For the second consecutive summer, movie theaters will struggle. Sure, there is reason to celebrate in 2021. At least this summer most theaters, the ones that survived through the deepest throws of COVID anyway, get to be open. But studios are still wary of the public’s desire to go out.
That means most big budget popcorn movies are going to be available on demand while also being in theaters. There isn’t a big event movie that forces you to grab a date or round up the family and head to the theater.
Hollywood has always had a love of sports. Whether it is Oscar bait like Rocky and Chariots of Fire, feel good schmaltz like Rudy, or slapstick bafoonery like Caddy Shack and Slap Shot, competition just makes for a great plot device.
It makes sense to me to turn to the sports media industry to solve theater owners’ problem. So, I asked hosts from across the country a simple question. What sports story do you want to see turned into a movie?
I also asked them to cast their leading man. Here’s what they had to say.
STEVE CZABAN – 97.3 THE GAME, MILWAUKEE
“Deflategate! And Tommy Lee Jones has to be somewhere in it!”
LANCE TAYLOR – JOX 94.5, BIRMINGHAM
“Random AF but Bison Dele (Brian Williams). The Rock could pull it off. Fascinating and dark. Complete opposite of a Disney film.”
PHIL MACKEY – SKOR NORTH, MINNEAPOLIS
“My answer is more of a look into the future — a story I’d LIKE to see play out…
“I love me a Kevin Costner sports movie, and I feel like he needs to keep branching out into other sports to complete his sports movie portfolio. He’s done baseball, football, golf, etc. How about Kevin Costner as the renegade new head coach of U.S. soccer, as they make a miraculous push deep into the World Cup for the first time ever (say, 2026)?
“He takes a program besieged in embarrassment and turns it all the way around in his Costner way — fighting with his bosses, fighting a rotten culture, a broken system…
“They get beat in the finals. By Brazil. But they gain world respect for the first time.
“Oh, and Jennifer Garner is still his capologist. If there is such a thing in soccer.”
ALLEN SLIWA – ESPN LOS ANGELES
“The sports story turned into a movie for me would be Kobe’s final game. I think that would be amazing story. I don’t know of another finale for a career like that. Michal B Jordan would be the individual who can play his role.”
JAY RECHER – 95.3 WDAE, TAMPA
“It’s gotta be Tom Brady and this 2020-2021 Bucs season right?
“From the decision to come to Tampa, to Gronk and AB coming to town, to the Super Bowl win & Lombardi toss at the boat parade, what an awesome story to tell! Matt Damon plays Brady. Take my money and give them the Oscars.”
FRED FAOUR – 97.5 ESPN, HOUSTON
“Thought I would go a little off the beaten path….The 1993 Oilers, the team that played the year after the collapse in Buffalo. They had brought in Buddy Ryan as defensive coordinator, and the owner Bud Adams said it was Super Bowl or bust. They then promptly started the season 1-4. However, they reeled off 11 in a row to finish 12-4. Along the way, they had a defensive lineman (Jeff Alm) die in a car crash under suspicious circumstances, had openly gay players in the locker room long before it was acceptable, had an offensive lineman skip a game to be there for the birth of his first child (babygate), and of course the famous sideline fight between Kevin Gilbride and Ryan. They would lose their first playoff game at home to Joe Montana and the Chiefs 28-20, a team they had beat 30-0 in Week 2.
Michael B. Jordan as Warren Moon
J.K. Simmons as Jack Pardee
Kevin James as Buddy Ryan
Josh Brolin as Kevin Gilbride”
AARON GOLDHAMMER – ESPN CLEVELAND
“Now that the Browns are Super Bowl contenders, I’d embrace a comedy about the 1-31 seasons in 2016 and 2017. In a remarkable two year span, the Browns drafted countless busts and traded the rights to multiple franchise quarterbacks. They tanked for draft picks and wasted the final playing years of hall-of-fame lineman Joe Thomas. They unfurled a banner in the Dawgpound that said “GPODAWUND.” Somehow, they also set the stage for where the team is today.
“Dennis Haysbert stars as Browns coach Hue Jackson in…No Win Situation. Definitely not suitable for children.”
Seven interesting films for sure. And man, did we run the gamut? We heard everything from a murder mystery to prestige cinema to what could be one of the dumbest comedies ever written.
Personally, as a lover of film, I tend to gravitate more to Aaron Goldhammert’s way of thinking. I love absurd comedies, and nowhere is their more absurdity than in the world of college sports. It is where the richest guy in the room and the dumbest guy in the room get to run the show and they are both the same guy!
So, let’s go to the world of college football. I want to see a movie adaptation of the University of Tennessee’s 2017 coaching search. This is the one that began with a verbal agreement with Greg Schiano and ended with six different coaches saying no and an athletic director getting fired before former Vols coach Phil Fulmer orchestrated a coup to make himself AD and Jeremy Pruitt became the head coach.
If you are not a college football fan, trust me. It was wild. Have you ever seen the movie The Death of Stalin? I have to imagine that is what it was like in Knoxville during that time.
Jeff Bridges plays Phil Fulmer. Kyle Chandler has experience playing a beloved football coach as Eric Taylor on Friday Night Lights. Let’s see how he does playing a man that doesn’t know what asparagus is. We’ll cast him as Jeremy Pruitt.
You want a drama suggestion? It is a lot less fun, but fine. Let’s go with the 2008 US Open. A virtual nobody, knocking on the door of 50 goes head-to-head with the greatest golfer to ever walk the planet, mere months before his downfall. Anthony Mackie plays Tiger Woods. Adam Sandler plays Rocco Mediate.
Boom! Hollywood, sports radio has solved your problems!
If you would like to turn any of these treatments into a movie, you can reach me at the email address and Twitter handle below. I will act as everyone’s agent and take 20% off the backend.
Media Noise – Episode 54
Demetri Ravanos welcome Jeremy Evans and Tyler McComas to the show this week. Topics include emergency programming, the streaming future of ESPN, and why the holidays is a good time to think about your upward mobility.
Breaking News Turned A Quiet Sunday Into The Busiest Week Of My Career
“We’ve set records at the station and listenership isn’t going down anytime soon. Plus, our social media following has boomed since Sunday morning.”
It started off as a completely innocent Sunday, which, you married men know, meant an afternoon Target trip with my wife. Earlier in the day, I was texting with Demetri Ravanos about the grind of doing sports radio during football season. That also included talking about Oklahoma’s loss in Bedlam to Oklahoma State. OU’s loss the night before meant I wouldn’t be doing a pre or post-game show on conference championship weekend. Football season was essentially coming to a close for me.
And then it hit. First it was a text from Cody Stoots of ESPN 97.5 in Houston. I’m good friends with Cody and respect his knowledge of college football, so it surprised me when he texted, “Oh no. Bummer about Lincoln. Coaching searches are fun though!”
Wait, didn’t Cody hear Lincoln Riley adamantly say he wasn’t going to LSU just hours before? He’s a smart guy. What’s he talking about?
I checked Twitter on a hunch. That’s when the madness officially started. I immediately knew it was true. We rushed out of Target. My crazy Sunday was just getting started. I cut an instant reaction video for my station’s Twitter page, where we have a sponsored segment called Sooners in 60. It’s a social media video that entails analysis and updates on everything OU. I uploaded it shortly after detailing my initial shock that Lincoln Riley was headed to USC. I couldn’t believe it. It was a complete shock to everyone.
As I kept my eyes on Twitter, I realized a reaction video wasn’t enough. That’s when Josh Helmer and I decided to record a 15-minute podcast on the breaking news. So via cell phone and in the front seat of the car, I gave my thoughts on the shocking development. But just as quickly as it uploaded, we realized we needed to do more. Our listeners deserved that.
Management at the station came together and realized we needed to get on the air. Granted, the postgame show the night before didn’t end until midnight, which meant Helmer and I would have to jump right back on the air, but this was too critical of a time to not be active. Especially since other stations in the market were rallying and getting people on the air. I had been looking forward to a calm Sunday, but I couldn’t be on the sidelines for this. Helmer didn’t want that either. We found a time that worked and decided we’d stay on the air until the bosses told us to stop.
At 5:30pm on Sunday evening, we hit the 94.7 The Ref and Sportstalk 1400 airwaves without a real plan. Sure, we’d take calls, but this was a show about natural reaction and how we felt in the moment. So as Helmer bumped us in with “California Love” we unleashed our anger towards Lincoln Riley’s decision.
It’s an easy way to create compelling content in that moment. You’re playing to the audience and they’re deeply interested in the story. Helmer and I wanted to be real and genuine, which meant addressing the crazy rumors around Riley’s departure, and slamming him for some of the things that were starting to emerge. We were given total freedom by management, trusted to react as strongly as we saw fit. So we did. And so did a ton of callers and even other co-hosts at the station that hopped on. It was the most exciting 90 minutes of radio I’ve ever been a part of.
We looked up and it was 7:00. We couldn’t believe how quickly the time had gone by, but we had to shut it down, because the Cleveland Browns were playing the Baltimore Ravens on our airwaves in just 20 minutes. We’re the Oklahoma flagship for the Browns so honoring our commitment to our partners was important. That being said, we could have continued the show all night. The live, raw reaction was incredible.
We signed off and received a text from our owner, thanking us for hopping on with short notice. After giving up a Sunday to help with coverage, that simple message was greatly appreciated. The day of work was over, but we knew an incredible week was coming our way. It was about to become a dream content scenario for talk show hosts in a crazed college football market.
Monday morning came with great news from management. The emergency show on Sunday night received the highest streaming numbers in station history. They were tracked from our app. The first real coaching search at OU since 1998 was starting to show its benefits.
So, as a station, we did what everyone else would do. We decided to capitalize. Recently, our station launched a merch store that has t-shirts, beanies, hoodies, etc.. Each have our logo on it, as well as special items that center around show hosts and OU game results. In all of the madness, former OU head coach Bob Stoops stepped in as the interim head coach for the upcoming bowl game. He’s always been beloved by the fan base, but this was next level loyalty. And we decided to make a t-shirt about it.
‘Bob’s Got Our Back’ is what the t-shirt reads with a visor at the bottom. I created it via the Canva app in my car in the station parking lot before our Monday morning meetings. As you can imagine, they’ve sold very quickly.
Monday’s day of radio was filled with anger towards Lincoln Riley, and excitement about who the next head coach will be. There was even a press conference that featured Stoops firing up the fans and ensuring everyone the program was going to be just fine. Sure, just two days before, an epic game between in-state schools broke out, but there was barely a mention of it. The bigger story had overtaken the actual game. It seemed like everyone in the state was listening to sports talk radio on Monday. I can’t speak for the other two stations in the market, but our listenership was so high, we maxed out the number of online listeners we could have via our app. We scrambled to find a way to expand the number of people that could listen to our stream at the same time. Thank God we did.
The past few days have been awesome. Sure, it’s meant endless time on the phone and exchanging texts with various people to try and chase the story, but any sports radio host during a coaching search should absolutely love the attention. We’ve set records at the station and listenership isn’t going down anytime soon. Plus, our social media following has boomed since Sunday morning.
The exciting part is that this story isn’t just a two-day fling. Anger towards Riley hasn’t stopped, nor will it, anytime soon, and the search for the next head coach has brought an incredible amount of interest. Madness happened on Sunday afternoon and it won’t stop until a new head coach is hired.
Ok, now I have to go. I think Brent Venables or Matt Rhule is about to be named the next head coach at Oklahoma. And yes, we have a t-shirt ready to go if that happens.
How Do You Break The Ice When A New Player Or Coach Comes To Town?
“How do you introduce yourself? What approach should you take? What’s the first thing you should do?”
It’s a season of change in many sports these days. College football coaches are changing teams. The NFL will surely have some coaching vacancies of its own soon enough. Don’t forget it’s also free agency time in baseball.
With all of that said, it’s also a crazy time for broadcasters. We need to start figuring out who the new players and coaches are and how to get to know these people as soon as we can. It’s as much about meeting the new folks as it is getting to know who they are in their jobs and as people. How do you go about this process?
Working in the industry as long as I have, it’s almost a given that every few years, it’s out with the old and in with the new. When you work in Chicago it seems to happen more often than that. Sometimes, from a broadcast perspective, the change is good. Other times it can be a little more difficult to deal with. I’ve been witness to both. But what matters at the beginning is you need to do your best to understand the change and adapt to the new way things may be done.
How do you introduce yourself? What approach should you take? What’s the first thing you should do? Well, it’s not that simple. Every case is quite different. Gathering information that will be useful to you is the best way to start the process. There are more than a few ways to accomplish this feat.
One of the first steps I would take when working in baseball was to contact fellow broadcasters that may have interacted with the new player or manager. The team announcing crews usually have the best insight into the nuances and personality of the person you are wanting to meet. They will have knowledge of how that player or manager likes to be approached. Is the player routine-oriented? Does he/she like to get the media business out of the way first, or do they want to wait until they’ve prepped for the game? That is the kind of critical information to have to develop a healthy respect for one another.
I also wanted to know from other broadcasters what their impressions of that player or coach were. Is this the kind of person you could joke around with or not? Was this a person that would open up to you, if they got to know and trust you? I would store this information in the back of my head, just so I was prepared. Even if a broadcaster told me to stay away from a particular guy, I would always try to find out for myself. I gave that new person the benefit of the doubt until they either proved the information about them was wrong or spot on.
Another method to introduce yourself to the new guy/girl was to make sure I was at the team’s first media availability. Whether it be a fan fest or just an introductory press conference, it’s important to have that person start recognizing your face and name.
I recall talking to one player that joined a team I worked for in particular at a fan convention. The informal setting of these events allows you to get some time with the new players and managers. In a casual conversation with this player, I wanted to find out when was the best time to approach him for pregame interviews. He told me that if he was seated at his locker facing away from the stall, feel free to approach. I’m so glad I was armed with that information, because I saw several fellow media members get turned away, when he wasn’t ready. I always tried to respect those wishes. The season went smoothly and he was a great ‘go to’ guy when needed because of that relationship we forged.
If you’ve been in the business a long time, you probably know a few of this new player’s former teammates. Many likely played for the team you broadcast and with the access you’ve had, introductions can be made or arranged. It’s always a better ‘in’ or ‘edge’ in the beginning of a relationship to have that extra cache of being introduced by one of that player’s peers. Most of these players respect one another and if you’re deemed ‘cool’ or ‘good’ by one, others will give you that chance to at least prove them wrong.
Every once in a great while, a team will put on a ‘meet and greet’ for a new coach or manager. It’s a way for those that regularly cover that particular team to get to know a new leader in a very informal manner. I recall one such time an NFL team put together a lunch for those that regularly covered the team to meet the new head coach. It was a completely off-the-record gathering, filled with stories and a lot of pizza too. The unfortunate thing was, the guy we met that day was only himself for about 3 months, then he became ‘the coach’ and the relationship changed. Still, it was a unique idea and approach to allow some of the media, he would be seeing on a daily basis to have a chance to relax and break bread.
Change is never easy to deal with, especially after establishing long relationships with previous players and coaches. But it is a fact of whatever game you’re covering, things are going to change and you must have the ability to change along with it. If not, you could get left behind and out of the information loop.
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