In observance of Black History Month, the College of Communication and the Arts was host to an esteemed collection of guest speakers hailing from the broadcasting, journalism and professional sports industries for a series of livestreams focusing on the racial, ethical and societal revolution that has taken the sports world by storm. Marking the Spring return of the Sports Media Speaker Series, the College welcomed frequent guest, Seton Hall alum and legendary ESPN broadcaster Bob Ley '76 to join Professional-in-Residence B.J. Schecter to moderate weekly livestreams focusing on a variety of controversial topics currently facing the professional and collegiate sports worlds.
Hosted across three consecutive Wednesdays in the month of February, this special Black History Month series of livestreams welcomed a wide array of diverse guests, including ESPN, FOX Sports and MLB Network reporters and journalists, former professional players and even a Howard University professor, offering students the complete picture of the role of race in modern day sports media. A highlight for students, the new interactive livestream format allows them to interact directly with guests, receiving advice and inside expertise in real time.
In a year filled with economic uncertainty, societal unrest and racial awakening, Americans watched anxiously from quarantine as the world transformed around them. The year 2020 was unlike any other, and no industry felt the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic quite like professional sports leagues, agencies, players and colleges as many were forced to take a hard look at the current and future state of the game. Underscoring all of this were the continual cries for owners, players and fans alike to address the problem of systemic racism and lack of representation that currently plagues modern sports leagues. While it's a conversation that has been mounting for years, the need for reformation became abundantly clear this past summer, when devastating events brought upon the necessity for constructive conversations regarding race in America, sports and beyond.
This special edition of the Sports Media Speaker Series hopes to shed a light on these very issues and provide an avenue for a healthy and constructive discussion that can help students become better informed sports media professionals.
Week One - Diversity, Inclusion, Necessity: Sports in a Time Like No Other
Wednesday, February 10, 2021
Sports in American life stand uniquely at the center of this unprecedented storm of pandemic, economic upheaval and racial reckoning. The calls and conversations about diversity and inclusion have never been more pressing; the uncertainties are exceeded — it seems — only by the opportunities now. Will this moment produce meaningful change reflecting the pressing issues of this time or will it be an occasion for incremental advances, more in tune with the rhythms of past years?
This conversation featured Michael Smith, formerly of ESPN and The Boston Globe, currently a principal with Inflection Point Entertainment, and Elizabeth Newman of Howard University, who had a distinguished career at Sports Illustrated.
Week Two - COVID, College Hoops, and the College Sports Model
Wednesday, February 17, 2021
College basketball has become bigger than ever, generating billions for the NCAA, conferences, and schools each year. With more and more television exposure and a postseason that is as compelling as any professional sport, college basketball is big business. In 2020, the NCAA tournament was cancelled due to COVID, which resulted in losses nearing $1 billion. Now, with the pandemic still raging there is more pressure than ever to get through March Madness. But at what cost? Teams across the country are limping toward March with pauses and cancellations every day. Is it fair or ethical to expect college athletes to put themselves in harm's way, play in front of few or no fans so that others can cash in on a big payday? Players have been more outspoken than ever about social justice and playing conditions as the issue of Name, Image and Likeness heads to the Supreme Court. Is this an inflection point in terms of the players' power and influence?
This conversation featured ESPN college basketball analyst and former Duke University star Jay Bilas, and Scott Burrell, a former NBA player and current head coach at Southern Connecticut State University.
Week Three - America's Pastime: A Hard Look at the Future and Challenges in Baseball
Wednesday, February 24, 2021
As Major League players report to Spring Training with the league office and Players Association sparring over the economics of a full or reduced season, what does the future of baseball look like? Once known as America's Pastime, baseball is now well behind the NFL, NBA, and major college sports in popularity. There is still plenty of money in the game — the Mets recently sold for more than $2 billion and young star Fernando Tatis Jr. just signed a 14-year, $360 million contract — but will the next generation continue to watch the game? While more and more Latino players are become stars, the number of African-American players is declining and diversity in front offices is lacking. What will baseball look like in 10 years?
This conversation featured ESPN Baseball Analyst and author of The Game from Where I Stand: A Ballplayer's Inside View Doug Glanville, Fox Sports and MLB Network broadcaster Tom Verducci, and former MLB All-Star pitcher Dontrelle Willis, who is now a broadcaster for Fox.
About the Sports Media Speaker Series
The College of Communication and the Arts' Sports Media Speaker Series brings top-level talent to the Seton Hall community for enlightening and informative discussions about the evolving world of professional sports and how it's covered by the media. Previously, the series has hosted notable sports and journalism figures such as Bob Costas, ESPN's Stephen A. Smith, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and Former NBA Commissioner David Stern, among others.
This past Fall, the series returned in an all-new virtual format for "Year of Playing Dangerously: Sports During COVID-19", a live event that provided students with journalistic insight on what it was like to report on professional sports during the unprecedented global pandemic. The event featured guest speakers Aditi Kinkhabwala of the NFL Network, Dana O'Neal of The Athletic, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports and The Athletic, and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. Click here to watch the full replay of the event »
The College of Communication and the Arts currently offers a Sports Media minor, as well as a range of sports media courses through the Visual and Sound Media program. For more information on the program, contact Amanda Carcione via firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on the Sports Media Speaker Series please contact Amanda Carcione at email@example.com.