It's difficult to imagine the present day sports landscape without fantasy sports. The various games, played by hundreds of millions all over the world have changed the way that fans and even major networks interact with sports and present it to the world.

According to ESPN's 30 for 30, the official start of "rotisserie" fantasy sports came when Dan Okrent, a former public editor of the New York Times, created a fantasy baseball league with his associates in a restaurant called La Rotisserie Francaise in New York in 1980. The league Okrent started was similar to modern fantasy baseball, and only used National League players.

Fantasy sports continued to grow in popularity gradually, but the industry exploded in the mid-nineties, when the internet entered homes.
 
 
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Ash has been a high-level executive in Major League Baseball for over 20 years with Milwaukee and Toronto.
My sports journalism got a visit from Brewers assistant GM Gord Ash on Tuesday. Ash shared a multitude of stories from his time in baseball front offices, and primarily focused on his interactions with members of the media.

Ash, who has had a long career in baseball, talked about how the main beat writers used to fly with the teams on road trips when he started working in Toronto. Eventually, the reporters started making their own travel plans after the unwritten rules of privacy between them and the players came into question. 

Ash said in his experience, the best journalists are fair. He appreciates those journalists who will criticize his work when he deserves to be criticized, but also give him credit where credit is do. Those who don't give credit are afraid of being considered "homers," according to Ash.

One of the interesting things Ash said was that there were usually only two writers covering the Brewers, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and Adam McCalvy of Brewers.com. He compared this to a large media market like New York, which has a myriad number of media members flooding in and out covering the team. 

When we discussed bloggers, Ash continually stressed how not one bloggers has ever come up to him and asked him a question. This perplexed him, since he felt the reason that someone would want to write about the Brewers would be to get some sort of insider perspective.

Ash was surprisingly transparent when I brought up the Josh Hamilton rumor that ESPN has been playing up over the past few weeks. He explained how Hamilton's "babysitter" for years in Texas is now the Brewers' hitting coach, hence the link. He said that the Brewers, as a small market franchise, don't have the finances to pay Hamilton a massive contract in the range of $25 million. I mean, fair enough.

Ash joined the growing list of helpful and high-profile guests we have had in #loweclass #sports this semester.
 
 
We've had some great guests in both #loweclasses this year, but I think that Sharif Durhams probably has been my favorite. Durhams serves as the social media editor at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and also contributes to JS Online's breaking news coverage. 

The focus of Durhams' presentation was on how the sports department for the Journal Sentinel has embraced and effectively utilized social media. He discussed three writers who utilize it the best on the staff, namely Tyler Dunne, Tom Haudricourt, and Tom Silverstein.

Less than two years ago, Dunne worked for a local Buffalo paper. He built up a brand for himself online and on Twitter, and found his way to the Journal Sentinel to cover the Packers. Now however, he has accepted a job with the USA Today because of the quality work he has done and the exposure he has received. 

Haudricourt has covered the Brewers since 1985 and is widely considered one of the best baseball beat writers in the nation. His credibility took a major boost when at the beginning of this year, Ryan Braun's suspension for PED use was overturned. The Associated Press initially reported that Braun's suspension had been upheld, but Haudricourt called them out for their inaccuracy on Twitter, and as more and more people rallied to his side, his credibility grew.

Tom Silverstein covers the Packers for the Journal Sentinel, and live chats with Packers fans during games. Durhams said that Silverstein's chats draw tons of traffic from fans who ware watching the game on TV on their couch and simultaneously chatting on their computers.

Durhams' visit was especially timely, since his second jobs on the breaking news side of the paper came into play four days earlier during the Brookfield Mall shootings. Durhams said that JS Online used ScribbleLive in order to send out updates to concerned residents as information was discovered.

The presentation provided a lot of great information about how newspapers are adjusting in the age of social media, and people like Durhams surely have a lot to say in the future of the industry.
 
 
 
 
After another wild weekend of college football, the debate continues to rage over the accuracy of the BCS system.

Oregon, who soundly beat Arizona State on Thursday, dropped a spot in the BCS rankings for the second straight week, even though they remain undefeated. After Florida usurped them last week in the inaugural edition of the 2012 standings, Kansas State shot past them in week nine's ranks. The Ducks fell to fourth after the Wildcats routed previously No. 13 West Virginia.

However, according to Mr. College Football, Tony Barnhart, the Ducks "shouldn't worry." He believes that Florida won't win out, with Georgia, Florida State, and the SEC championship game against Alabama still on their schedule. Moreover, he gives logic to suggest that even if Kansas State wins out, an undefeated Oregon would have the upper hand as far as the BCS is concerned.

Kansas State only has two top-25 showdowns remaining, with games against No. 14 Texas Tech and No. 23 Texas looming. On the other hand, Oregon has three such games left on their schedule (against No. 9 USC, No. 17 Stanford and No. 7 Oregon State) and they have a conference championship game, something the Big 12 doesn't have. 

So even though Oregon has fallen in the rankings for no particular reason, they apparently still control their own destiny. Good to know, CBS. Anything else?

Oh yeah, speaking of Kansas State, their quarterback, Colin Klein, just took the the lead in the Heisman race after a massive game against WVU. What shocked me more than anything was that Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron is a Heisman candidate according to Barnhart. 

All signals seem to be pointing up for Kansas State, who are surging, have a relatively easy road ahead, and have a superb quarterback leading their high powered offense. It would be good to see the Wildcats succeed, since they haven't been relevant since Darren Sproles led them to a Big 12 championship in 2004
 
 
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Gord Ash, John Hammond, and John Steinmiller entertained the crowd for an hour with their stories and advice.
On Wednesday, October 10, both my sports journalism and digital journalism classes made our way over to Cudahy Hall on Marquette's campus to attend a lecture moderated by OnMilwaukee.com founder Jeff Sherman. The guest speakers were John Hammond, general manager of the Milwaukee Bucks, Gord Ash, assistant general manager of the Milwaukee Brewers, and John Steinmiller, media relations manager for the Brewers. All three men told their unique stories of how they rose up in the ranks of sports executives to attain their current positions.

Hammond, born and raised in a small town in Illinois, coached high school, college, and professional basketball before entering the front office in the NBA. He won the NBA championship in 2006 as general manager of the Detroit Pistons. Interestingly enough, Hammond said that he never received any job that he applied for, but always got jobs that people offered to him. That helped him emphasize the theme of luck within the sports marketing profession.

Ash, a native Canadian, worked his way through the Toronto Blue Jays from ticket salesman to groundskeeper, all the way up to general manager. After being let go following seven seasons, Brewers GM Doug Melvin brought Ash on as assistant GM. Ash said that "it's getting your foot in the door" that leads to success in the sports industry.

Steinmiller, a lifelong Milwaukee resident, started off working at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel as a senior in high school. He graduated from Marquette in 2004, and was fortunate enough to pick up a low level job with the Brewers after graduation. From there, he worked his way up to become the media relations manager. 

Perhaps the liveliest portion of the evening came when Hammond told a story about meeting President Bush at the White House after the Pistons won the championship in 2006 (the story came as a result of my question, I might add). The whole crowd laughed raucously when Hammond reached the punch line, which involved the former president not knowing who Hammond was when they shook hands.

For a more complete summary, see my classmate Jacob Born's recap of the event that he wrote in the Thursday edition of the Marquette Tribune. 

I sincerely hope Marquette will continue to bring fantastic guests like Hammond, Ash and Steinmiller to campus in the future, because I learned a lot and really enjoyed listening to their wisdom about an industry I might get involved in in my professional career.
 
 
Well, CBSSports.com, not sure if you realized it, but the baseball playoffs started this weekend. Oh look, there it is on the top right corner of your homepage. It wasn't important enough to make the main ticker or anything down the right side though? Alright, I see where your priorities are.

Fact is, America pays attention to and cares about football first. As a result, the three headlines across the ticker are Tony Barnhart's weekly college football column, a preview for the Monday Night Football game between the Texans and the Jets, and Jason La Canfora's weekly observation column on the NFL.

Compare that to ESPN's front page. ESPN has five headlines on their main ticker, plus a list of headlines down the right side. The very first headline of the main ticker is a picture of Allen Craig of the St. Louis Cardinals, with a play button that when clicked starts a live audio stream of the Cardinals-Nationals game on ESPN Radio. ESPN also has a headline for Monday Night Football (I was surprised that they gave top billing to baseball instead of their own upcoming telecast of MNF), college football, NASCAR, and even the cricket world championship.

Down the right side, ESPN devotes most of their headlines to story lines stemming from week five of the NFL. None of the headlines have to do with Major League Baseball.

My point by going through all of this analysis is that the media slight important baseball games in order to push as much NFL content to their site as possible. CBS basically gave up completely on MLB coverage, just throwing a little link in the top right corner of their home page. It looks like my beat needs to step up the quantity or
 
 
I'm not from Milwaukee or anywhere hereabouts. So I've never heard of Don Walker. But scanning over his blog, I know that if I was from around here, I would be quite familiar with his work.

While his posts are very short and concise, they use hyperlinks to tell the story away from the page. They also focus in on topics off the field of play, hence the title, "The Business of Sports." 

His most recent post, about the "Inaccurate Reception" game between the Packers and Seahawks, was only five sentences long. But what made it "longer" in a way were the two links it had to particularly pertinent Wikipedia pages that dealt with Packer in-game tragedies. 

Here's the link he posted to about the recent Packer game. The other link he posted was to the 4th and 26 game's page, a game in which the Eagles converted a crucial long first down to sink the Pack in the playoffs, much to the delight of a particular journalism professor of mine.

Walker's blog seems like chicken soup to the soul of a Milwaukee and Wisconsin sports fan, and niche for local sports lovers to get a unique take on the happenings of their sports scene. I'm looking forward to meeting Mr. Walker in journalism 4932 tomorrow afternoon
 
 
The Online News Association honors outstanding journalism annual with their prestigious awards. They also manage to reach the smaller outlets as well as the mainstream news. To that end, I decided to feature four pieces of journalism put together by students that either won or were nominated for ONA awards in 2011.

The first piece I chose to read was a multimedia website from Northwestern called Global Warning. The site completely analyzes the issues posed by global warming, both to the environment and national security. Not only did it define the factors leading to massive climate change, but it openly criticized the governments' inaction towards the major issue. The students that put this together deserve a lot of credit, and got it through the Multimedia Feature Presentation, Student award from the ONA.

Three other stories were nominated for the same award, and one of them was Vwa Fanm, a project put together by students at the University of Miami. The name of the site means "women's voices" in Creole, and the site shares the stories of twelve displaced Haitian migrant women living in the Dominican Republic. Each woman put together a story and then a student did a companion story on each woman. The website was professional, comprehensive, and contained great subject matter.

Also nominated was another Miami production, Haiti's Lost Children. This site dealt with the educational crisis taking place in the aftermath of horrific earthquake that rocked the small island nation a couple of years ago. Most of the multimedia was a series of short videos dealing with how the country is rebuilding. The site also had a gallery of pictures and an informational write-up about the cause it was promoting. In a way, this was advocacy journalism, much like the two before it.

The final nomination went to Now What, Argentina, a project put together by the University of North Carolina. This website, which deals with the ongoing economic recovery in Argentina dating back to their 2001 economic collapse, opens like a collage, if collages all had interactive links to videos about different struggles in the country. Instead of cluttering the site with a bunch of tabs, all the information is available on the front page. This website was my favorite because the layout was awesome.

Overall, the quality of the student journalism that these four websites showed was impeccable, and the  

 
 
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Ed Hochuli (and his arms) will begin signaling touchdowns again this weekend. God forbid the real refs make a bad call.
On Wednesday night, as I sat in the Trib office doing late night copy editing, the tweets started shooting out.
The only thing I could think was "wow." People had said that the controversial end to the Seahawks-Packers Monday night football game would be the straw that broke the camel's back in the NFL referee strike, but I didn't believe that Roger Goodell would listen that well. 

But now, an NFL game will be refereed by union officials tonight for the first time this season. My favorite CBS blogger, Will Brinson, put together a nice post about the resolution and the immediate impact for CBS Sports today. 

The most interesting part of the post for me was when Brinson pointed out that the referees struggled to reach an agreement to ref tonight's game, but could have easily been ready for Sunday. However, as Brinson noted, that would have put Baltimore and Cleveland at a complete disadvantage, since they would have replacement refs for four games and the rest of the NFL would only have them for three.

I really liked how Brinson closed out his article. He said: "The best news, though, is that coaches, players, media and, most importantly, fans will be able to move past the sordid affair of the replacement refs soon enough."

That's really what this is all about isn't it? I found myself struggling to enjoy the monumental victory my Hawks posted Monday night because of how ESPN painted it as a theft of a victory from the Packers. I deserved that joy, but the fact that there were replacement refs calling the game denied that from me.

At least now we can focus on what every good NFL fan pays attention to on a week to week ba