All Your Sporting Events Are Belong To Bristol

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I am of two minds on Fox basically ceding the contract to broadcast the BCS to the Four-Letter. There are two sapproaches to note: the first is the quality of hte production, the second is what it means in a journalistic sense.  Several of ESPN’s regular cadre of college football analysts calling for a playoff, but first, we’ll deal with the aesthetic aspect, because it’s all about what you see, and then what’s underneath.

In a pure TV production sense, no sport should be handled by Fox. They do an absolutely loathsome job with the BCS — seeing as they handle no college football games during the regular season on the main network, they then put together some truly poor announcnig teams (most notably, any team involving Charles Davis.)  College football is obviously secondary to them, and it shows on air every time they do the BCS bowls they hold the rights for (all save the Rose Bowl.) There is gimmickry (the robot for NFL football, the talking animated baseball explaining the basics of pitching to an audience likely older than its execs imagine).

(If I had my way and could assign a network to handle the vast majority of televised sports. it would be CBS, who, particularly with college football and basketball, brings in the best announcers and analysts.  It’s hard to imagine ESPN willfully discussing the recent study by Richard Lapchick on the number of minority coaches now being at six after the firing of Ron Prince at K-State, but two weeks ago, Spencer Tillman went for it and called out the university presidents and conference bosses on it.)

While ESPN is at the very least competent in game presentation, announcing, and analysis (save clankers like Pam Ward, Andre Ware, Brad Nessler, and Bob Griese), it also has a problem: will owning the TV rights to the all the big bowl games lead some of them to keep quiet about a playoff possibility?  The more problematic issue is that ESPN now holds a complete monopoly on the important aspects of college football, which is never particularly a good diea for any enterprise. Lack of competition leads to stagnation, and bad efects for the sport in general — it’s safe to guess that shelling out hundreds of millions of dollars until 2014 will do nothing to get rid of the crap system in college football. ESPN will now have a further investment in the status quo.

So, eight-team playoff, 16-team playoff, plus-one…..all of these options will be dragged out even longer.

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I’m Not Quite Following This Theory

I’ve not written a whole lot, if anything, about LeBron James’ Vogue cover, but we had a fairly intense discussion about it at work yesterday, whether it portrayed the King Kong imagery that has been written about by both D-Wil and the Starting Five folks, as well as ESPN’s Jemele Hill. One of my friends sent me Jason Whitlock’s latest piece on this, and I essentially got him to side with me by explaining why it didn’t fly — the thesis was so faulty and the evidence so poor that it couldn’t pass muster at all.

Before I get into Whitlock’s deal, I’ll say flat out: this was a poor cover choice. You can fault a lot of folks here — James and his handlers for not knowing about the imagery and enough history to see the parallels; photographer Annie Leibovitz for the loaded shot; the editors at Vogue and the higher-ups at its parent company, Conde Nast, for either missing the suggestions of the image and/or ignoring it, thinking it controversial (the latter is obviously worse) when they had plenty of decent shots in the mag that would have been much better choices.

I agree with LeBron. The photographer captured him exactly as he is. You know, when he covered his body in tatts years ago, mimicking a death-row inmate, LeBron invited people to jump to the conclusion that he’s dangerous. Yeah, that’s the way the image-is-everything game is played. Ink is a prison and gang thing. Don’t act like you don’t know the origin of the current fad.

Vogue put a mirror in our face, and we’re complaining about the reflection. Half the black players in the NBA take the court each night in front of white audiences tatted from neck to toe like they’re shooting a scene for Prison (Fast)Break.

Wait. So because he got tattoos, which have roots as markings for religious, memorial, sentimental, and rite-of-passage reasons in many societies — but only have that criminal association because white Western society deemed them to be so and finds them unacceptable to the norm, LeBron James is asking to be portrayed as a beast and a thug, and so is every other black athlete with ink on their skin? (I’m not gonna come out and deny that certain tattoos and those who get them have criminal associations, but this is like saying that 1 + 1 = 3.)

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