Taking it on the chin


Interesting week in Toronto Sports media land. Four things caught my attention this week:

1. Bruce Arthur’s rant on Raffi Torres Halloween costume
2. Amount of CFL/Argos content in Steve Simmons weekly column
3. Roy MacGregor’s rant on 21st century sports writing
4. Doug Smith’s outfit on the televised PTS roundtable.

I don’t personally know anyone who was offended by the costume. I live in a small bubble though. Was it in bad taste? I don’t know. Maybe. Was going all ape over it just a tad too much? I think so. Where’s the horror of Agassi’s Mr. T get up?

This will sound like another anti CFL rant. It’s not. I don’t understand why the CFL/Argo’s get as much coverage in one of the best columns of the week in a Toronto based paper where the market could care less about the local team. I think interest in CFL could increase if the Argo’s left.

The Globe column on the current state of sports journalism isn’t worth the ink it’s written on. It’s a shame given the history of the guy who wrote it. Let’s hope it’s not a sign of things to come.

If your going to televise a radio show, I don’t know, call me crazy, but the guests appearing on the show may want to look the part. McCown was looking snazy in his sweater vest. Brunt had a nice outfit on. Hell Shannon looked sharp too. Is the Star not providing a clothing allowance during the NBA lockout? Sheesh. Were those PJ’s he was wearing.

I don’t have full radio ratings yet. I am told that PTS hit it out of the park in this book. Exceeding 10.8 in the older 25-54 male demo compared to a 2.2. Comparatively, Brady/Lang were a 6.7 to Richards 1.7. I will update the chart when I have all the info.

Back to Seattle tonight so I will write more from there this week.


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mike (in boston)
mike (in boston)
November 6, 2011 4:27 pm

i just read MacGregor’s piece … tough he tries to work around it, the argument essentially founders because of a false premise, namely that 21st century reporting and old-style journalism cannot coexist. this is just not true. there are certain people i pay attention to because they are on top of the latest developments, and there are others i read because they make interesting arguments. sadly, few of the latter write for the major newspapers.

“In far too many cases, tweeting and blogging have become a form of public masturbation, where size matters”

is that really what matters when it comes to public masturbation? I would have thought not getting caught would be a top priority, but what do i know …

TSM, someone in the comments at the Globe really disagrees with your assessment of Simmons.

“Don’t ever put Steve Simmons’ name amongs those of fine story telling. Scumbag Steve is a condescending hack writer who feels the need to throw his own highly opinionated weight around whenever possible. He’s a huge reason why the sports media in Toronto is brutal.”

welcome back Buffalo Bills. we’ve missed you.

Another Steve
Another Steve
November 6, 2011 5:31 pm

Some thoughts on the 4 points, plus one of my own.

1. I groaned when I read Arthur’s take on the costume. Normally I like to allow for the possibility of racism and sexism – because, like most of us, I have seen real racism and sexism – but Arthur’s point is quite juvenile. Excuse the language, but it’s fucking Hallowe’en. People dress up in costumes on Hallowe’en – that’s the whole point. The only form of tastelessness on Hallowe’en, from my point of view, would be to dress up as Paul Bernardo or something like that. Arthur’s column is beneath him and rather childish.

2. Argos? That’s about as much as I want to write about the CFL.

3. I completely disagree with you about MacGregor’s article. While Mike (in Boston) is correct in pointing out that the masturbation analogy is both weak and lame, you didn’t point out any flaw in what he wrote. Basically he is saying the same things that most of us know – that is, that the new technologies, and new styles of reporting, offer all kinds of dangers. I didn’t hear him dismiss the entirety of new journalism, but rather I heard a criticism of the culture of speed versus thoughtful reporting, which is something this blog has also noted (re: Pat Burns’ death; also note the verb “to Brunt something”).

Too often the new forms of media (sports and otherwise) believe that they are immune to criticism. Yet they do bring all kinds of problems with them potentially – from producing a culture that inherently suffers from ADHD (and which, judging from my students, is mostly unable to compose written prose). A wise person recognizes pitfalls and tries to adapt/accomodate. There are lots of good things in the world of new media, but the twitterverse is also doing a lot of potential damage to society and to journalism. I groan when I hear a blogger get mad at a print journalist. Really, it’s no sign of courage to defend your turf. Rather, I would like to see more introspection and self-criticism.

4. If anyone is watching PTS for the outfits, then well…..you can finish this sentence yourself. I loved listening to Smith on the radio on Friday from 6-7pm, and anytime that I’ve had the TV on for it I am basically using it as a radio at any rate.

Ok, here’s my thought for the week ahead:

Lest anyone think that I am overly negative on new journalism, the best story that I have read in recent days is the following one from Dan Wetzel at Yahoo: http://rivals.yahoo.com/ncaa/football/news;_ylt=AqED9vw6mjIQ.Ecrdw5CCg8cvrYF?slug=dw-wetzel_penn_state_child_sex_case_110511

Basically it’s the breaking story about the pedophilia case at Penn State and how some major people, perhaps Joe Paterno included, knew that one of the coaches there raped a 10-year old boy on campus and didn’t report it to the police. Last week there was a great deal of chatter about how much Tony LaRussa knew about steroid use among his players. This, clearly is much worse, and so I am curious as to how far people will pursue this allegation about a beloved figure and college and whether they will ask whether Paterno knew this guy was a child rapist and did nothing. To me, the response to this story from the media (new and old media alike) will show whether some people actually deserve the title journalist or not.

Mike V
Mike V
November 6, 2011 6:01 pm

I don’t like Steve Simmons but it’s his column so he can write about what he wants. If it doesn’t interest you, don’t read it just like the rest of us.

Lee (Oakville)
November 6, 2011 6:12 pm

I wasn’t surprised in the least by Bruce Arthur’s take on Torres’ costume. In my opinion, Arthur’s opinions are totally predictable and borne from a mind formed by indoctrination rather than education. Nuance is a key element to into good journalism and Arthur’s consistent inability to move beyond ideology is disheartening.

November 6, 2011 7:26 pm

I don’t want to offend Argo fans, but I have to agree with you on that front. I’m 29 and while I know plenty of NHL, Jays, Raptors and NFL fans, I honestly don’t know anyone who really follows the Argos. Can’t think of one. That doesn’t prove anything, any of you might know very few baseball or basketball fans…. but it really seems to me that the Argos are not on the map in Toronto in any way.

Maybe we just accept that Toronto is a unique sports market in Canada (neither a good or a bad thing), and has different appetites than most of the rest of the country. CFL just isn’t on the table here.

Having said that, while maybe I wouldn’t notice if the Argos weren’t around, I don’t want to team to fold. There are some fans out there, and nobody wants to see fans lose a team they love. Assuming the Argos can’t get a downtown intimate little stadium, maybe they need to look for one outside the GTA? Maybe Brampton, Mississauga, Oshawa would be interested in a stadium deal? Maybe the suburbs might be more interested in attending games? This is almost certainly a ridiculous idea – but could the Argos play in Hamilton in the new TiCats stadium? The Jets and Giants play in New Jersey…

Who is going to buy this team when Braley decides to sell?

Agree Steve – I was really impressed with Doug Smith on the roundtable. Was very good outside basketball. He was more up on the Jays than any of the other guys, for example.

November 6, 2011 9:07 pm

So no one in your circle was offended by the costume so it must have been ok. Whatever.

Maybe my circle is a lot wider because plenty of them thought that, while Torres certainly didn’t intend to make a racist statement, it was a poor choice of a costume. Before anyone dismisses them as either a bunch of oversensitive black people or soft, liberal whites, I’ll save you the trouble by explaining that it’s a pretty diverse circle, both racially and politically.

Anyone who wants to dismiss the history of blackface because the makeup job was done professionally needs to do their research on the topic and realize that there were plenty of professional makeup jobs in racist films like Birth of a Nation.

The other rationalization is that Torres was doing it because he respects the person in question. That’s lovely but it’s really no different then a white person claiming that all his friends are black so it’s ok if he uses, “My nigger” in the presence of black people. If he has any clue about the history of that word, or the history of blackface, then the smart thing to do is to avoid doing something that is going to push a lot of buttons and paint them in the same corner as hard core racists that use both to denigrate black people.

Now come the wails of outrage from middle class white people who will lecture me about being oversensitive. Maybe they’ll be distracted by this: I think Simmons is a buffoon and too much of his column is insecure name dropping and “Look at how clever I am” throw away lines that are nothing more than him being a simplistic contrarian. It is amusing to see that, over 20 years later, he is still bitter that Ottawa was awarded an NHL team over Hamilton.

Ami Angelwings
November 7, 2011 5:38 am

@Basshat I wish I could give your comment a billion upvotes. 🙂

Ami Angelwings
November 7, 2011 5:43 am

I don’t understand when ppl act like ppl overreacted to Torres costume. Like most internet blow ups (Dickwolves, Elevatorgate) generlaly what happens is the initial response is “wow that’s wrong” or “that’s problematic” or “that’s in poor taste”… and the overreaction comes in the response which is “OMFG HOW DARE YOU ACCUSE THEM OF BEING XYZ” usually where ppl have not been. XD Nobody said Torres was racist, but they said blackface is racist, and has a racist history… they didn’t say he should be put in jail, should have the costume removed forcibly, or that the police should be rounding up anybody who does it. He can do whatever he wants, but it doesn’t mean ppl have to like it XD The problem comes when ppl want some sort of right to do what they want AND never be thought of as problematic… -_- That’s when somebody says “that’s offensive to rape victims” and the response comes from “I want you to stop being offended” and then the trolls come out, and Bruce Arthur was getting trolled hard that morning, so was Bomani Jones and others -_-;; If I recall, Arthur had somebody wish AIDS on his children too >_> THAT’S the overreaction, and that’s when the big blow ups happen… usually the REALLY bad stuff isn’t the initial offense, it’s when the defenders come out and start screaming bloody murder b/c OMG somebody took offense to something! e_e

November 7, 2011 8:15 am

Re: Raffi Torres

He certainly should have known better to than to dress up as Jay Z as the liberal media predictably made a meal out of this one. Especially the silver spooned, over educated types like Arthur who feel inclined to release some of their guilt as they write each word.

I believe Torres was trying to honour the guy, just as a kid who idolizes a hockey player often dresses up as his favourite hero on Halloween. I also believe Torres employees an agent of “African decent” so it is clear the guys is not a racist.

Much ado about nothing

Gerry (Burlington)
Gerry (Burlington)
November 7, 2011 9:07 am

Simmons CFL, I think the reason Simmons dedicates so much space to the CFL may have to do with his gig at TSN. He is a regular on TSN Radio and the Reporters. We know TSN will milk its CFL as much as possible and Simmons may just be continuing this in his column to essentially support the network he works for.

To me it is a shame so many of these print media folks are now influenced by which of the Radio/TV networks they are affiliated with.

Another Steve
Another Steve
November 7, 2011 10:13 am

It was a Hallowe’en party. As far as I am concerned, it ends with that.

I understand that people can be upset, but I still think that some people just like getting upset about things. Frankly I am more upset about how many people can’t spell Hallowe’en properly anymore, which I think is a sign of the growing illiteracy rates in the world.

This is only a lecture from me in the sense that the word ‘lecture,” etymologically speaking, means something “to be read.” You understand me, I understand you.

And it was a Hallowe’en party.

mike (in boston)
mike (in boston)
November 7, 2011 10:24 am

ANOTHER STEVE It was a Hallowe’en party. As far as I am concerned, it ends with that.

ahem …


November 7, 2011 12:14 pm

Always impressed by the intelligent discourse that, more often than not, takes place on this site. This particular column being one of them.

As for the subject at hand, I agree with Another Steve. I think he has thoughtfully articulated a valid point. It WAS a Hallowe’en party and Torres dressed up as someone he admires. The Star article that Mike (in Boston) eludes to chooses to focus on people who dressed as KKK members with a man in blackface and a noose around his neck. I’m assuming that they are perhaps a couple of country rednecks who thought it was funny.

It wasn’t. It WAS stupid and racist.

The fact that they won first place price at the party is really the main focus of that article. Comparing the two incidences is not logical at all. The only similarity they have is that they both took place on the same day of the year.

Without really opening a can of worms here, instead of pointing out the history of blackface and how it unjustly portrayed black people (which I think we can all agree that it did), is it not fair to ask about how black people (entertainers, musicians) are portraying themselves today? Don’t have to look far to find yet another video of some young black men looking angry, yelling at a camera with cash in their hands, gold around their necks with lots of women dressed as $5.00 hookers.

How is this image advancing any cause whatsoever? Plays to every bad stereotype that, one would think, people have been trying to eradicate for many years.

I think it’s just a tad more harmful to society than some dumb hockey player’s attempt to be humorous at a hallowe’en party.

Don Mandrie
Don Mandrie
November 7, 2011 12:18 pm

Would appreciate a little more thought on McGregor’s column than “not worth the ink it was written on”.

It’s exactly what we need more of in mainstream media-intelligent and thought provoking columns.

Your reaction seems over – the – top. Please explain further.

Raptors Devotee
Raptors Devotee
November 7, 2011 12:38 pm

TSM, you can add one more on as per the following tweet and my reply:

simmonsstevesteve simmons

20 years ago today I was co-hosting Prime Time Sports with Bob McCown and while on the air we learned that Magic Johnson had AIDS.

RaptorsDevotee Brian Gerstein

@simmonssteve Come on Simmons, you are better than that, you are a reporter. Magic did not have AIDS, he was diagnosed as HIV positive.

TSM, how can Simmons tweet something so factually incorrect. I tis 12:40 p.m. now a couple of minutes after I tweeted him about it, and will see if he tweets a retraction, or just deletes the tweet completely.

Raptors Devotee
Raptors Devotee
November 7, 2011 12:50 pm

simmonsstevesteve simmons

Correction: 20 years ago I was co-hosting Prime Time Sports with Bob McCown when we learned Magic Johnson was HIV positive.

6 minutes agoFavoriteRetweetReply

Glad to see he retracted it and did not pretend it didn’t happen, which of course you can’t do as somebody, like me, already documented it. Still, this is an example of how careful you have to be on twitter, to actually review your tweet before clicking send, especially if you are in the media like Simmons is.

mike (in boston)
mike (in boston)
November 7, 2011 12:56 pm

i’m home sick today and as a result have been listening to shows i don’t normally track. Jeff Blair had a phenomenal interview with AC GREEN, abstinence advocate and ex-teammate of Magic Johnson. My congratulations to Jeff for a really professional interview.


November 7, 2011 2:50 pm

On Raffi, agree with Bass and Ami, can’t say that Raffi a racist but it is a racial costume and unnessesary. Anybody can go as Elvis without the need of whiteface, and I seen people go as Bob Marley without changing their skin colour. There is enough characteristics with both of them without having to change skin. Considering his GF as Beyonce and they didn’t even bother giving her an exaggerated backside seems like they just thought “hey we will just change our skin dark”. I will still side with to stay away from blackface, even if it’s done with best intentions.

On a quick sidenote, when Drum said the poor portrayal of black people through rappers is what should be more concerned, isn’t that like saying David Lee Roth back in the day was a portrayal of every white person? They are portraying the same thing.

On the CFL topic, in sports talk there is always a chicken and the egg argument when talking about what sports should be focused on. Do you talk and focus on sports on their popularity alone or does a secondary sport need some focus just so they can get in the mainstream sports fan consciousness. So again chicken and the egg, what comes first. Popularity to get attention or attention to get popular. Personally I think it’s the latter. With CFL/Argos they get a lot of media attention, more so than they deserve considering interest level around the city. But it just never raises any more general interest by fans. TSNR has been constant CFL/talk and guests. The Fan especially with PTS has regular CFL topics.

I know I flipped by TSNR after an Argo game and they didn’t even have call ins. Is the interest so low that you can’t even get a call in post game segment after an Argo broadcast? Maybe I missed it but I went by TSNR and they had a normal post game talk between braodcasters, then went back a few minutes later and they had ESPN stuff.

Roy Green
November 7, 2011 3:26 pm

Agree with the earlier comments – It’s not enough to say “not worth the ink …”
They are very valid comments. If you disagree, you owe it to your readers/viewers to say why.

November 7, 2011 5:28 pm

Hey TSM!!! Weren’t you the one who asked me why I cared if PTS was even on TV last week? Now your worried about what someone is wearing? Pick a side Jack, it ain’t that hard, have a good time in Seattle, don\t let the door hit you on the way out.

mike (in boston)
mike (in boston)
November 7, 2011 6:23 pm

Darren, you might be overreacting a little bit. Many people, myself included, cannot fully parse the idea of watching a talk radio programme on TV. So it seems weird to complain when it gets preempted, since you can still tune in on radio or online.

It’s a bizarre trend to put radio on TV, but basically everyone does it now. I reckon it’s incredibly cheap programming and there’s little competition at that time.

mike (in boston)
mike (in boston)
November 7, 2011 6:26 pm

oh, and thanks Another Steve for the Wetzel/Yahoo link. It was a riveting read.

November 7, 2011 7:23 pm

Mike in Boston, I think this radio on tv thing started with fat boy Mike Francesa and Chris Russo on Direct TV with the YES network. I got hooked with that show, ‘Mike and the Mad Dog’, radio station was sports radio 66 WFAN, New York. I wasn’t really complaining about it not being on TV, more that it was being pre-empted by two sports I loath, Soccer & Tennis.

Bobby G
Bobby G
November 7, 2011 11:06 pm

Simulcasting a radio show started with Imus in the Morning in the mid-90s. McCown has referenced Don Imus as the inspiration a few times that I’ve heard. Mike and the Mad Dog didn’t go on TV until 2001 or 2002.

November 7, 2011 11:08 pm

Guess I shoulda specified ‘Sports shows’

November 8, 2011 2:36 am

If I’m home and want to listen to the show, I will sometimes turn the TV simulcast of PTS on while I’m doing stuff.

I mean… it’s not appointment viewing, but I’m more likely to watch PTS or Brady/Lang talk on TV than poker or BMX racing. Anytime Sportsnet One have anything that resembles a Play by Play property, they preempt the shows.

It’s cheap, easy programming for them – and only seems to come at the cost of crap stuff like poker repeats. So, I have no issue with it.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x