2000's Sports

Sports 2000's.mp4

Sports in the 2000's

Sports in the 2000's was getting into a little bit of everything, the age of technology started to change sports and the viewing experience.  Tools like Hawk-Eye changed professional tennis with a ball tracking software, sports of all kinds added player microphones to improve the viewer experience and television had gone wild for sports.  Sports programming is highly profitable and receives high ratings, both at the professional and collegiate levels.  Other technological innovations like improvements to  Fantasy sports systems led to a growth in viewership of even the casual fan.  This new viewer base helped sports become even more engrained in American culture.  We also see a rising interest in the Professional Golf Association (PGA) with the emergence of Tiger Woods in 1996 as he excels throughout the 2000's.  Tiger brought a sense of cool to the league as a charismatic, talented African American player in a league dominated by old white men.  The popularity of golf has outlasted Tiger Woods, however the PGA was at it's peak with him on the links.  

Sports also see a number of controversies in the 2000's with the United States Congress investigating the use of steroids in sports, specifically professional baseball and ensnaring other sports like Lance Armstrong and Professional Cycling.  The NBA also ends the Prep the Pros system that allowed players to be drafted right out of high school and began the era of "One and Done" college basketball players.

Overall, the 2000's was a period of tremendous growth for the sports industry as sports begin to leverage technology and evolve with the interests of Americans.


Task 1: Watch the Introductory Video to this Unit (5 minutes)

Task 2: Review the provided images, videos and attached links for Sports in the 2000's (15 minutes)

Task 3: Complete a Timeline by Selecting FIVE (5) Sports Moment or Sports Star Throughout the Decade (2000 - 2009) to represent changing trends in America (30 minutes)

(Your selection can be sports related or sports adjacent.  Meaning you could choose a sports commercial, game, musical performance during a game, a television show or a traditional sports moment in a game or press conference/a sports superstar.)

Task 4: Submit Completed Timeline to Google Classroom

Technology in Sports

The 2000's was all about technology and finding ways to improve our day to day lives with its help.  It did not take long for sports to look for ways to leverage this technology to give themselves a competitive edge and for broadcasters to create more engaging content.  While things like instant replay was available and tried int he NFL in the 1960's it had severe limitations and was quickly abandoned the 2000's brought a reviewed interest in bringing technology like this back.  Television networks began to blend sports and technology in 2002 by putting a microphone on the Oakland A's catcher to enhance their baseball coverage and it was an instant success.  Not soon after a system known as the Hawk-Eye was introduced in professional tennis matches to track the balls flight and identify faults and disputed out calls.  While small steps at the time these changes opened the door of a whole new world of sports and technology.

Player Mics Enter Sports

Ramon Hernandez turned into a footnote in broadcasting history on April 7, 2002, when the Oakland A's catcher became the first player to wear a microphone during a regular-season game on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball. Hernandez wore the one-square-inch, one-ounce "Player Mic" on his uniform and the network edited taped audio segments from the feed for a "Sunday Night Sounds" feature. It's since become a staple for coverage of a range of different sports on different networks. (https://www.si.com/more-sports/2009/12/22/innovations )

Ball Tracking Software Enters Professional Sports

Serena Williams' controversial loss to Jennifer Capriati in the 2004 U.S. Open quarterfinals prompted the adoption of Hawk-Eye, an electronic line-calling technology first used in cricket. The system reconstructs the ball's trajectory and most likely path within three millimeters using multiple high-speed video cameras around the court. Hawk-Eye's impact has gone beyond officiating: It's also enhanced telecasts, since the system can measure the speed of the ball at any stage of a rally, service placement and bounce points. Most fans and players have embraced the system, though Roger Federer remains a vocal skeptic.  (https://www.si.com/more-sports/2009/12/22/innovations )

Check out more information about Tech in Sports here

Steroids in Sports

The 1990's saw some of the best and most impressive sports stars our nation had ever seen. Some of this success was thanks to improved medicine, training programs and technology; however, some of this success was thanks to substance abuse.  While steroid use was still a new area of discussion in the 1990's and the regulating agencies were still figuring out what substances to ban players at both the collegiate and professional level athletes were working to stay one step ahead.  The United States Congress even got involved in investigating the use of steroids in sports, specifically baseball and called out sports stars to testify before congress.  Eventually the stars of the early 2000's and lat 1990's were being found out one by one.  Mark McGwire failed to admitted to using steroids while in the midst of this home run dual with Sammy Sosa while under oath but eventually did admit he used steroids and he was not alone in his admission.   The finding of this hearing were published in what became to known as the Mitchell Report.  Even the cycling world was not immune from athletes looking to medicine to achieve athletic greatness and the most famous cyclist in US history Lance Armstrong was also found to have cheated using performance enhancing drugs.  Since this time testing regulations and technology has advanced drastically to help reduced the use of these drugs and promote a fair athletic completion.

Baseball and Congressional Hearings

The long-awaited report slammed home what many had long been suspected: illegal drugs were part of the lineup of every team in Major League Baseball beginning in the mid 1990s.

"Those who have illegally used these substances range from players whose major league careers were brief to potential members of the Baseball Hall of Fame," former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell wrote in his much-anticipated report on performance-enhancing drugs.

"They include both pitchers and position players, and their backgrounds are as diverse as those of all major league players."

Seven MVPs, two Cy Young Award winners and 31 All-Stars - one for every position. In all, the 409-page report identified 85 names to differing degrees, putting question marks if not asterisks in the record book and threatening the integrity of the game itself. 

Mitchell said the problems didn't develop overnight and there was plenty of blame to go around.

"Everyone involved in baseball over the past two decades - commissioners, club officials, the players' association and players - shares to some extent the responsibility for the Steroids Era," Mitchell said. "There was a collective failure to recognize the problem as it emerged and to deal with it early on."

Mitchell recommended that the drug-testing program be made independent, that a list of the substances players test positive for be issued periodically and that the timing of testing be more unpredictable.

"The illegal use of performance-enhancing substances poses a serious threat to the integrity of the game," the report said. "Widespread use by players of such substances unfairly disadvantages the honest athletes who refuse to use them and raises questions about the validity of baseball records." (https://www.cbsnews.com/news/steroids-a-mainstay-in-baseballs-lineup/ )

Cycling and Steriods.mp4

Lance Armstrong

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency released more than 1,000 pages of evidence in doping allegations against Armstrong and his teammates. He was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles in the scandal. On Thursday, the International Olympic Committee demanded that he give back the bronze medal he won in 2000.

The charges against Armstrong are all too common in the cycling world. Cyclist Floyd Landis was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title after failing a drug test. Eighty percent of the Tour de France medalists between 1996 and 2010 have been "similarly tainted by doping," according to the USADA report on Armstrong.

A look at the drugs Armstrong used:

"Our mission is to protect clean athletes by preserving the integrity of competition not only for today's athletes but also the athletes of tomorrow. We have heard from many athletes who have faced an unfair dilemma -- dope, or don't compete at the highest levels of the sport. Many of them abandoned their dreams and left sport because they refused to endanger their health and participate in doping. That is a tragic choice no athlete should have to make." USADA CEO Travis Tygart said in a statement.  (https://www.cnn.com/2013/01/15/health/armstrong-ped-explainer/index.html )

The PGA Becomes Relevant

The 2000's was the decade of Tiger Woods in the world of golf and the PGA.  Tiger joined the PGA in 1996 and became a cultural sensation almost immediately.  His youthful play, his endorsements by major sports companies like Nike and the image of breaking racial barriers as an elite African American golfer brought a diverse crowd the course for the first time. Tigers impact and the impact of golf in the sports world was most strongly felt in the late 1990's and early 2000's but as fame and age caught up with Tiger so did Americas interest in professional golf by the end of the 2000's.

Tiger Woods Changes Golf

Tiger Woods has been as much a cultural comet in professional golf as a victorious one. From the time he turned pro in 1996, and even past his last major victory at the U.S. Open in 2008, Woods drew mores eyes to him and his sport than any other golfer ever. In his prime, Woods turned tournaments into must-watch events, even for those who'd never teed up a golf ball.

He was compelling, a perfect blend of talent and charisma suited for a growing American diversity and the digital age. TV ratings, galleries and prize money all increased significantly. People had to watch. Woods dragged golf -- a sport most Americans have never played -- into the Land of Cool.

"Tiger embodied a kind of modern cool that golf hadn't seen before," said Orin Starn, a professor of cultural anthropology at Duke University. AP Photo/Peter Cosgrove

Among professional athletes for most of the early 2000s, Woods ranked with basketball icon Michael Jordan at the top of the Q Score, which rates popularity and marketing appeal. In 2008, Forbes ranked Woods No. 2 on its annual Celebrity 100 list, based on fame and money. Only Oprah Winfrey was higher.

Plus, he was making cultural as well as sports history. In 1997 at just 21, he stormed to a win at the Masters, shooting a record score and living up to years of hype. That it came at Augusta National, where African-Americans hadn't been allowed to play until 1975, put him in a special place. The attention just kept coming, with 13 other major victories -- including four straight -- and 79 total wins on tour.

"Tiger embodied a kind of modern cool that golf hadn't seen before," said Orin Starn, a professor of cultural anthropology at Duke University and author of the book "The Passion of Tiger Woods." "This was to a certain degree, and still is, a bland, vanilla sport played by anonymous white guys who all dress the same and look the same. So to have this charismatic, young African-American-Asian-American hybrid figure bursting onto the scene made huge news."

Rick Schloss, the former longtime media director of the annual PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines in San Diego, recalled how the galleries swelled when Woods came to the tour, attracting a younger element interested in one thing: Tiger.

"They'd go there to watch him," Schloss said. "They don't know what else is going on. They've got their Ugg boots on, the hats on backwards, they've got a craft beer, and they know he's cool."

In 2001, after he won four straight majors, Americans polled by Gallup named him as the nation's No. 1 athlete. His favorability rating was on a par with the likes of Jordan, John Glenn, Colin Powell and Pope John Paul II.

Yet Woods slipped from that perch in 2009, when his off-the-course life turned upside down with a personal scandal that led to divorce. He took a leave from golf for several months. He lost sponsorships. When he returned, he wasn't the same. His smile, swing and putting stroke were diminished. (https://www.espn.com/golf/story/_/id/19016063/how-tiger-woods-heyday-made-golf-cool-became-cultural-icon-transcending-game )

The NFL Dominates Sports Television

With the development of new technology like internet access viewers were looking for more ways to be stimulated by the entertainment industry.  This opened the door for fantasy sports platforms to develop and with the popularity and marketing success of football it gained the most traction for casual viewers of sports.  This new way to engaged with the NFL created a demand for television programming and games expanded from traditional Sunday and Monday night time slots to also include the Thursday Night game.  The NFL also launched their own network to provide additional programming for football fans.  This growth in the professional space also lent itself to the college sports who could provide additional programming for an already proven and demanding market.  Thanks to the 1984 law allowing colleges to negotiate contracts on their own networks sought to gain broadcasting rights to college programs with the largest audiences.  Additionally, ESPN hired several former executives of the SEC league of the NCAA to develop sports programming.  The wide base and lack of professional sports teams was a great market to tap and started the financial dominance of teams in these select conferences.

Fantasy Football Causes NFL Boom

The first fantasy football league was started in 1963, but it took decades for it to reach the mainstream. More to point, it took the advance of the Internet over the old fax machine method of score-tracking, and the ability to get scores live rather than in the newspaper box score the next morning.

Bleacher Report actually has an interesting connection to this leap in NFL popularity, as CEO Brian Grey became general manager at Yahoo! Sports in 2001. One of his first goals was to raise the profile of their fantasy sports scene. Grey's big idea was to make fantasy football something free to play rather than the paid leagues Yahoo!'s competitors were offering.

It took off like gangbusters.

To this day—even after ESPN, CBS and others were forced into free leagues—Yahoo! remains one of the top fantasy football destinations on the Web.

With the advent of fantasy sports, fans now have a vested interest in teams and players that aren't geographically near them. Two decades ago, a fan in Syracuse, N.Y., didn't need to know that the St. Louis Rams running back ran for two touchdowns. Now, that same fan needs to know up-to-the-second injury information on that running back and demands retribution if the coach limits his carries.

That coincided with a massive expansion and rules change by the NFL to make the game more appealing to average fans across the country. Fantasy football, more than any other development, locked those fans in and gave them a reason to care about every single team across the league.  (https://bleacherreport.com/articles/1691465-how-the-nfl-became-americas-sport )

ESPN NCAA College Football in the 2000s.mp4

Impact on College Football Programs

Although many people predicted that after 1984 broadcast rights would decline sharply toward the marginal costs of airing college football games, about a quarter million dollars at the time (Siegfried and Burba 2004), they failed to appreciate the rapid growth of television networks that demanded football game content, and the degree to which college football demand is regional, which preserved market power for regional conferences. 

Prior to 1984, ABC and CBS—which held the rights to televise Saturday intercollegiate football—had been airing simultaneous regional contests rather than a single game broadcast nationally. The greater appeal of Southeastern Conference (SEC) games in the American South and of Big Ten match-ups in the ‘‘rust belt’’ must have been enough to boost advertising receipts by more than the extra cost of airing multiple games. Interest in college sports, especially football, is regional in part because many alumni of colleges and universities reside relatively close to their alma maters,4 and they and the current students constitute a substantial base demand for television broadcasts, as well as for live attendance. 

After 1984, the largest conferences (called ‘‘power conferences’’)5 began to expand in order to solidify their regional dominance. Starting with the Big Ten’s addition of the Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) in 1990, all five dominant conferences added teams during the 1990s and 2000s. The 1984 Court decision dissolved the NCAA’s single football television contract. 

After a brief period of confusion during which home and visiting teams for some games each sold ‘‘exclusive’’ rights to the same game to different broadcasters, a duopoly emerged. The College Football Association (CFA), formerly an internal NCAA lobbying group, negotiated television rights for teams in the SEC, the ACC, and the Big Eight (which has since evolved into the Big-12), plus Notre Dame and Penn State, which were two successful independents at the time. The Big Ten and Pac-10 joined to offer networks an alternative television package. This duopoly was not challenged by antitrust authorities, but eventually proved to be unstable.  (https://home.uchicago.edu/arsx/NCAA%20Cartel-Why%20it%20exists,%20how%20it%20works%20and%20what%20it%20does.pdf )

The NBA Shakes Things Up

The NBA had many new stars emerging in the 2000's and were looking to capitalize on the attention the league was getting. Kobe Brant, Sequel O'Neil and the LA Lakers were dominating the NBA on the court and tensions between Shaq and Kobe were growing.  At the same time the youth basketball scene was exploding with middle school and high school games being broadcast on national television by networks like ESPN.  Stars like Lebron James are introduced to the sports world as the next superstar of the league at the age of 13 and the business of basketball could not be stopped.   That is until the NBA decided in 2005 to end the practice of allowing players to skip college or development leagues and directly enter the draft.  This was designed to help improve the overall quality of the league and improve competition and interest in the college game.  Over the years this move has gained increased scrutiny and in many ways have weakened the college basketball system.  Basketball may not have owned the Television rating in the 2000's but the America public were still taking notice (and so was the rest of the world).

Lebron James

James was born on December 30, 1984, in Akron, Ohio. At an early age, James showed a natural talent for basketball. He was recruited by St. Vincent-St. Mary High School to join their basketball team in 1999.   As a high school sophomore, James was chosen for the USA Today All-USA First Team. He was the first sophomore ever selected for this award. 

The following school year, James was named PARADE magazine's High School Boys Basketball Player of the Year and Gatorade Player of the Year. Following the end of his junior year, James was such a strong player that he contemplated going pro.  Deciding to finish his education, James had a tremendous senior year on the court. James would soon emerge as one of the National Basketball Association's leading players.

With his impressive record, it was no surprise that James was the first player picked in the 2003 NBA Draft straight out of high school. The Cleveland Cavaliers signed the powerful young forward, and he proved to be a valuable addition to the then-struggling franchise. 

During the 2003-04 season, James made history when he became the first member of the Cavalier franchise to win the NBA Rookie of the Year Award. He also became the youngest player — at only 20 years old — to receive this honor.   He made NBA history again in 2005 when he became the youngest player to score more than 50 points in one game.  James was selected for the NBA All-Star Game for the first time in 2005 and would go on to earn a spot in the annual showcase in each of the next 15 seasons. 

In 2003, James signed several endorsement deals, including a deal with Nike for $90 million that could net him over $1 billion over his lifetime. (https://www.biography.com/athlete/lebron-james )

End of Prep to Pro Era

Amir Johnson, who is now in his 14th NBA season, became the last “prep-to-pro” player selected in an NBA draft. He had spent no time attending college nor did he play professionally in the minors or abroad. Instead, Johnson went directly from high school to the NBA. He was the 40th player between 1975 and 2005, an era when the NBA welcomed players straight out of high school, to do so. And he was the last. 

The following year, the NBA would implement a controversial age eligibility rule. The rule had been negotiated by the NBA and NBPA and detailed in Article X of their 2005 collective bargaining agreement. Article X dictated that in order for an American player to be draft eligible, he must be at least 19 years old and at least one NBA season must have elapsed since when he graduated from high school or, if he didn’t graduate, when he would have graduated.

The era of “one-and-done” thus began in 2006. Most players who would otherwise have joined the NBA out of high school instead attended college for a year—or, more accurately, took fall semester courses and then dropped out of school when their team’s season ended sometime between February and April. In a few instances, players such as Brandon Jennings, Jeremy Tyler and Emmanuel Mudiay skipped college and played professionally abroad until becoming eligible for the NBA draft. (https://www.si.com/nba/2019/03/03/legal-analysis-change-age-eligibility-rule-one-and-done)