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Newz Forum: OTHER: The Sports Curmudgeon on ESPN excesses, Barry Bonds, Mike Bianchi plus more...

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posted on Mar, 17 2005 @ 05:37 PM
ESPN is a wonderful innovation for sports fans. It has been a positive thing for me since I first began watching back in the days when Australian Rules Football was a staple of its programming. But I must admit that sometimes ESPN is "prone to excess" and this week provides two examples of "excess".

First of all, ESPN has assigned one reporter and two other folks to shadow Barry Bonds for the entire upcoming season. That's right; they will be with him and covering him - not the Giants - for each and every day from now until whenever they think its time to reassign these folks. Obviously, Bonds is a big story now and for the upcoming season or two, but 24-hour a day coverage? Maybe that's just a tad excessive?

One other individual who gets 24-hour a day coverage is the President of the United States. No matter what your politics and no matter who the incumbent in the White House may be, even that coverage is excessive because it leads to long stories and features on where the President goes to church and what he likes to eat while watching sports on TV. Who cares? Why do we "learn" all of this from the coverage? Because people are assigned to learn everything they can learn about him and once the media outlet has the investment in all that "learning", it becomes cost effective to run the stories. So, now we are likely to learn that Barry Bonds likes honey on his Cheerios with vanilla soymilk rather than sugar and cow's milk. I can't wait to learn what his favorite video game is and what his best score has been. Boxers or briefs anyone? Mac or PC? You won't get this kind of stuff every day; but since these reporters will have to "earn their keep", you are going to hear some real nonsense from that corner of the universe along the line.

Aside: Barry Bonds pooh-poohed the idea that his head had grown larger in recent years saying that his hat size has been constant all his life. I had thought of making a snarky comment about that melon traversing a birth canal but decided against it. Let me only say this: If there is a balloon in the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade next year depicting Barry Bonds' head, it might be a miniature.

Back to ESPN and its excesses. This week they bombard us with "Championship Week" promos. Before anyone gets too wrapped up in that hype, let me recall for you that college basketball decides its champion on the court and the event, which provides that on-court decision, will begin after Championship Week is over. This week provides a lot of college basketball programming for ESPN - and the chance for fans to see some teams that they normally will never see - but it isn't "Championship Week" by any stretch of the imagination. Maybe ESPN calls it that because the actual week when the champion is decided and the tournament by which it all happens is on another network and this is as close as ESPN gets to that "championship"?

Here are the dreadful and predictable stories that have already begun to emerge and will continue to emerge from "Championship Week". Universally, the "mid-major conferences" are not given the value they so rightfully deserve and worthy young student-athletes from those schools will be denied a chance to play in the NCAA tournament due to some unnamed but definitely sinister forces. Nonsense. There are some "big conference" schools that get into the tournament who do not belong and there are some "mid-major conferences" who get their champions into the tournament even though the champion does not belong there. Deal with it! There is a reason that you have to wait until "Championship Week" to get a big dose of conferences such as the Horizon or the Metro Atlantic; most people see those teams realize they aren't very good and would not want to watch them all year long. And as for the noble student-athletes there who are being screwed out of a tournament appearance by those sinister forces, that's nonsense too. If they were good enough to make it at a major school, they'd be there.

Another story that will be beaten to death is the "RPI". Folks, it is a statistical measure and not an immutable law of the universe; the announcers seem not to understand that. If it were an immutable law of the universe and it actually measured the strength of each team, there would be no reason to play the tournament because the outcome would be pre-determinable. Tune it out.

Let me offer to ESPN executives - at no charge of course - a network motto that will embrace the excesses that ESPN engages in with its programming and its hype:

"Nothing exceeds like excess."

The University of Colorado learned that its president, Betsy Hoffman, will resign in June or as soon as her successor can be found. Given the events at that school for the past several years surrounding the football program and the recent hubbub related to Ward Churchill, they could replace her with Squirt the Wonder Clam and break even. I don't care about Ward Churchill; I had plenty of exposure to air-headed academics when I was in college and don't need to worry about them any more. But Betsy Hoffman has been a protector of Gary Barnett and the football program for several years and she ought to be an embarrassment to every alum of the University of Colorado.

Here is the nadir of being for a university president:

Three women allege that they were sexually assaulted by Colorado football players back in 2001. Hoffman was reportedly being deposed by attorneys related to this matter and they questioned her about a claim that Katie Hnida was routinely called "the C-word" (referring to a portion of the female anatomy) by her Colorado football teammates. What did President Hoffman respond? According to the Rocky Mountain News, she said "the C-word" could be used as a "term of endearment". Later in the exchange with the reporter talking about this testimony, President Hoffman began to cry. Here's one such article summarizing this embarrassment for the University of Colorado.

At Harvard, people are up in arms because the president there made some remarks that indicated that he thought women might be genetically less predisposed to math than men. For this, people want his head on a stick. At Colorado, the president says that a woman who alleges she was raped and who suffered continual sexual harassment at the hands of Colorado football teammates was the possible recipient of a "term of endearment" when she was called "the C-word". If I were to suggest a "term of endearment" for Ms. Hoffman, I might start with something like "biped".

Yesterday, I mentioned that I could not come up with a fifth player to be on my All-Echo Team to be coached by Boutros Boutros Galli. One reader wondered if Yo Yo Ma could play basketball. A Google search on that name and the word "basketball" turns up lots of hits but they all seem to be ticket brokers claiming to have seats for basketball games and cello concerts. So, that won't work. However, another alert reader not only filled out a fifth player for the team but also gave the team the point guard it so desperately needed. How could I have forgotten the man to run the All-Echo squad and be the coach on the floor, God Shammgod? Thanks to that reader for the reminder.

Finally, a comment from Mike Bianchi in the Orlando Sentinel about Maurice Clarett's showing in the NFL combine:

"And finally, I'm not saying Maurice Clarett is fat and slow, but he put on six pounds during his 40-yard dash at the NFL combine."

But don't get me wrong, I love sports...

Copyright the Sports Curmudgeon

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