Seen & Heard – Weekend Edition

by mike in boston [hatemailaccount /a/t/ gmail /dot/ com]

 

American college sports

 

One of the things for which I am grateful as a Canadian is that we seem to have the right attitude towards college athletics. Universities offer modest scholarships that allow students who want to pursue athletics to do so, but this does not alter their primary status within the university. The opposite is true at many U.S. colleges and universities. Athletes are treated as celebrities and they have a posse of people whose job is to make sure they don’t have to do any school work. This is not true everywhere, and certainly not true of all sports. But where it occurs, it is toxic both to the university and to the wider community.

In that vein, I give to you two stories. This one involves a mother who fights a group of fans on behalf of her son. I’m mostly posting this so you can see the amazing video where she channels Jimmy “Super Fly” Snuka and leaps from above on to her opponents.

The second story comes out of the decision by Bill O’Brien to leave his job as the head coach at Penn State. O’Brien replaced Joe Paterno in the wake of the cover up by members of the football program and the athletic administration of the sexual abuse of children. O’Brien references “Paterno People” in this story – people who are still trying to control the operation of the football program to show loyalty to the now deceased Paterno. His comments speak to the horribly nepotistic and corrupt nature of Division I college athletics. This same effect was seen when a billionaire benefactor of the Texas football program spoke out on their new hiring decision.

Everyone agrees that college sports is a broken system. These programs make tons of people fabulously wealthy, while the athletes themselves don’t get paid. To compound the insult, the athletes are given means to avoid actually learning anything while in college. At some point people will have to tally up the real costs of this system. One of these costs is thousands of 20 year olds with no university education and who have not been paid for their work. Somehow this consequence always slips through the cracks.

All that to say, Canadians should be thankful we have been spared this brand of exploitation and cultural insanity.

 

Gay rights and the NFL

 

The major “sports and social issues” crossover story this week was ex-kicker Chris Kluwe announcing that he believes we was drummed out of the NFL for supporting marriage equality and gay rights. The accusation comes as a shock to no one – locker rooms are notoriously homophobic environments. What is odd about this story is that the owner of the team reportedly backed Kluwe’s stance and encouraged him to continue to speak out on this issue.

Kluwe appeared on TSN Drive with Naylor & Arthur (Jan 6th, hour 3) who conducted an excellent interview. Kluwe comes across as articulate and intelligent (at least relative to his peer group). The hope is that by shining a light on how members of the coaching staff openly spoke about “nuking” gays, more owners will enforce tighter controls on how their teams are run. We’re still years away from changing  anti-gay views in sports, but this is a step in the right direction.

 

Hall of Fame voting

 

Dan Le Batard (ESPN personality) allowed the readers of Deadpsin to fill out his HOF ballot. He revealed this fact after the ballot had been cast. There have been 3 camps of response: 1) people who are morally outraged that he would besmirch the hallowed halls of the baseball HOF in this way, 2) people who regard this as an act of political protest not seen since Rosa Parks refused to sit at the back of the bus, and 3) people who are annoyed at Le Batard for being such an attention whore.  I suspect that the truth is a little of camp 2 and a lot of camp 3.

In my view there should be term limits on being a voter – something like 10 years after you gain eligibility. As we see in Toronto, guys who don’t follow baseball  or guys who are relying on outdated information or personal biases waste part of their votes every year. Get rid of these guys and a lot of the problems with the HOF will go away.

 

NHL v NBA attendance

 

Apparently the NHL sells out more of its buildings than the NBA. To me, this says two things: 1) the NBA has an attendance problem in many markets, 2) the NHL can have another lockout in 8 years and the fans will probably flock back. I don’t think this shows that the NHL is on its way to becoming a major national sport in the U.S.

 

End of Year Awards – Radio Edition

 

In the past we have handed out MSM awards on this site. I’d like to nominate some people in various categories. Please add your own suggestions for awards and nominees below.

 

Best newcomer: Walker (SN morning show), Jeff O’Neill (TSN). I’m mostly basing this on reading other people’s comments.

 

On the way up: TSN Drive. What did we do without you? It is great to finally have a true PTS alternative. The show needs to become less hockey-centric, and focus on more general interest sports stories, but they are a welcome addition

 

On the way down:

 

  • Tim & Sid. This one pains me, as I was a big fan of the old Score show.  I still have hope that the show can rebound, but the intelligent and quick debate that characterized the previous version of this show is not there anymore, at least not to my ears.

 

  • Blue Jays broadcasts. We lost the excellent Alan Ashby a couple of years ago. We lost the mostly good Dirk Hayhurst recently. There is word that Jack Morris may not be back. This leaves us with Jerry and Wilner. Jerry has been around forever and his voice is as natural as it ever was. But he has recently been saying some really crazy things. Earlier this year he claimed that Bautista is not a good leader, and that he is a bad influence in the clubhouse. Wilner has been bringing his contemptuous and contemptible act to the broadcast booth, rather than reserving it for his self-selected audience on JaysTalk. Hopefully someone at Rogers is listening, and can see that it might be time to start over.

 

The Shanny [award goes to the person who continually makes you ask “why do you have a job in radio?”]: John Shannon, whoever does the overnight shift on CBS radio

 

Low Hanging Fruit

 

  • Brian Burke needs to learn how to build himself up without needing to tear other people down. The overwhelming sense I get of this guy is that he needs someone to bully in order to be happy.

 

  • Not sure if someone is trolling Bob McCown but he used to run a group blog at Fadoo dot ca. That was a bit of a failure and some other project of his now occupies the domain at Fadoo dot com. Fadoo dot ca has been replaced with some highly NSFW material. Click at your own risk.

 

  • I joined Twitter purely so I could ask Bruce Arthur/TSN Drive why they don’t post full shows when he is on. Amazingly, they responded by doing just that this past Monday. @ZSommers is the guy to contact.

 

  • Three podcast recommendations: 1) Awful Announcing had an interview with the always entertaining Richard Deitsch (warning: low production values, but still worth it),  2) Slate’s Hang Up & Listen hosted a fascinating roundtable featuring journalists who had been embedded with the New York Jets. Amazing insight into Rex Ryan and what the inside of a locker room is really like. 3) Steve Moore was on TSN Drive on Jan 6th/Hour 3. For a guy whose career was ruined and has not been able to work for the last 10 years, he is remarkably free of bitterness. Great interview.

 

 

thanks for reading and commenting,
until next time …
mike (in boston)
About the Author