Tonya Hall Show: Thursday, May 10, 2012


I had the honor and privilege of guest-hosting the Tonya Hall Show today.  The show is all about embracing the power of social media, everything happening on the world wide web and how the internet is changing our lives.

On today’s show we talked about two topics: 1) sports and society – and what digital and social media are doing to help extend the impact that sports is having on our culture, and 2) the evolution of sports media – and how the role and impact of journalists who cover sports, and related issues, is changing in the digital age.

My guest was Tom Farrey, a veteran investigative journalist, Emmy Award-winning correspondent for ESPN, and the author of Game On: The All-American Race to Make Champions of Our Children. Tom’s work over the years has explored the connections between sports and the largest themes in society – education, globalization, technology, race, gender, poverty and ethics, among others.

In 2011, Tom also became director of the Aspen Institute’s Sports & Society program, a vehicle for convening leaders and fostering dialogue around topics of critical importance. The program helps inspire solutions to major issues so that sport can best serve the public interest, starting with the health needs of children and communities.

you can follow Tom on Twitter: @TomFarrey

Some notes/thoughts from the show…

The way we view sports is changing.  Clearly there are a lot of people using digital and social media to access information about sports - watch games, follow teams and athletes, discuss happenings (81% of people prefer the Internet for their sports news over radio and other traditional sources, during a televised game that they are watching, 83% of people will check game updates online…).  The sports media world is changing – there are more voices, more noise as well.  But, Tom noted that there is also a new appreciation for investigative journalism related to sports, and interest in the connection between sports and society, because of the range of ways people can get information and connect to different issues.  

For more  substantive issues to gain traction, Tom suggested, the focus needs to be right.  The issue of steroids in sports, for example, wasn’t of immediate interest to most casual sports fans.  But something like concussions, which has a more direct impact on people’s lives, has generated significant interest and discussion online.

Title IX. As a part of the Sports & Society project, Tom is organizing an event (May 31 - Washington, DC) focused on Title IX, the landmark legislation that greatly expanded access to sports participation opportunities for many girls and women, Title IX celebrates its 40th anniversary in June, but most girls still do not play sports. The deficits are most pronounced in urban and other low-income communities. And Tom suggested that addressing the participation rates is a matter of national consequence for reasons that include social development and public health.  Check out hashtag #T9andbeyond for more information.

Must-reads: At the end of the show I highlighted a few must-reads related to the discussion, including:

There was so much more discussed on the show that just can’t be adequately summarized here, but if you want to listen, the archived recording is available here.