Archive for the ‘Media Culpa’ Category

FC Bayern Muenchen v Barcelona - UEFA Champions League Semi Final: First LegMy knowledge of basketball consists entirely of the most rudimentary understanding of the pick and roll. I learned this in grade nine when my height and running speed deceived a high school coach into believing that I could be something more than awkward and gangling with a basketball in my hands. I was Darko Miličić before Darko Miličić.

I’m not really a basketball fan. I admire it from afar. The coordination. The leaping. The running. The endurance. My ignorance to the finer points of analytics and tactics affords me a certain wonderment as a spectator that’s absent from other sports for which I have a greater understanding.

With the start of the NBA playoffs earlier this week, I decided to alter this comfortable hands-off relationship I had developed with the sport. I wanted to end the neutral observer nonsense, and pick a team to support, hopefully, throughout the next month, and if it worked out, perhaps longer.

Typically, this is a less conscious decision for sports fans. We often cheer for teams based on regional bias, or we support a club because our parents supported that club. Or, if we’re particularly rebellious, we swear allegiance to a franchise because its the main rival of the one with which our parents have allied themselves. I’m cheering for the Chicago Blackhawks because you just don’t understand, Vancouver mom.

My forced approach to the NBA playoffs pushed me to reflect on the differences between watching a sport as a neutral observer and obsessing over a sport as a fan with a rooting interest. It’s vastly different. For many of us who support a team, the individual outcomes of tiny instances within a game that all add up to produce a result are the sole responsibility of the players on the team over which we obsess.

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Monday Media Culpa

BIEytjkCYAEEi4tThe jokes came fast, and in a certain sense, they were furious. Breaking news is broken was the general consensus among the temporary media experts expressing disdain through social media at CNN for the network’s big scoop, which turned out to be completely false.

Early on Wendesday afternoon, multiple reports emerged from several media outlets claiming that investigators in the Boston Marathon bombings had identified a possible suspect. After this brief bout of congruity, it all went strange with conflicting reports coming from different news agencies and, in the case of CNN, from within the same news network. Depending on what article you were reading, whose Twitter feed you were following or what network you were watching, a suspect might have been arrested, identified, not identified, on the way to a court house, or in hiding.

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BIEytjkCYAEEi4tEarly on Wendesday afternoon, reports began emerging through several media outlets that investigators had identified a possible suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings, based on surveillance footage captured by the Lord & Taylor department store across the street from the second bomb.

From there, it all went weird with multiple conflicting reports coming from both different news agencies and from within the same news network. Depending on what article you were reading, whose Twitter feed you were following or what network you were watching, a suspect might have been arrested, identified, not indentified, on the way to a court house, or in hiding.

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woodsdroppenaltyIn 1966, CBS commentator Jack Whitaker referred to a patron gallery at Augusta National Golf Club as a “mob.” He was banned from ever covering the Masters again. In 1994, Gary McCord, another CBS broadcaster, remarked that the 17th green was running so fast as to have possibly been “bikini-waxed” prior to the day’s round. He followed this nana-appalling comment by suggesting that “body bags” were located behind the green for players who missed approach shots. At the request of the club, he has not returned to broadcast a single Masters since.

This is the legacy of irreverence at the Masters. The three terms: mob, bikini-waxed and body bags. Bold expressions, each and every one of them.

We were reminded of this on Friday when NBC’s Bob Costas, sports commentary’s Audrey Hepburn, visited Dan Patrick’s radio show and expressed a no uncertain amount of disapproval with CBS’s coverage of the Masters. Specifically, his disdain was aimed at the network completely ignoring Augusta’s long and sad history of discrimination.

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AL_MASomething tells me that if this was NCAA Football’s National Championship game being written about, the Montgomery Advertiser in Alabama might have gotten it right. However, it wasn’t football, it was basketball, and it was actually Louisville edging Michigan for the NCAA Men’s title, not Syracuse.

The lengths people will go to make their brackets turn out better.

ESPNsnbI’m sure it’s subjective, but it’s always seemed to me that baseball, more so than other sports, possesses an aesthetic beauty that approaches the most pleasing pieces of visual art. From the unique design of a stadium to the subtle movement of the game’s participants between every pitch in the batter/pitcher conflict, it’s a very good looking sport. It’s one that benefits perhaps more than others from the accessibility of high definition broadcasts.

The standard bearer for baseball broadcasts is ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball. Yes, it’s highly mockable to many of us, but every sports broadcast, in its pursuit of catering to the demographic of everybody, is highly mockable. However, it’s also innovative, and it tries for something beyond what baseball fans might might receive from their local broadcasts. This translates into exceptional camera work, access to advanced metrics and graphics that actually inform an audience, rather than describe factual information that doesn’t require visual representation.

Perhaps the most impressive element of a Sunday Night Baseball broadcast is the booth that includes Dan Shulman doing play-by-play, Orel Hershiser providing analysis, and John Kruk creating an outlet for those who enjoy getting frustrated at dumb things said on television. Shulman and Hershiser were quick to form commentary cohesion when they began working together on television in 2011 after some time as partners for the radio version of the broadcast, and the strength of that bond has been tested with a different third man in the booth in each of the three seasons since the contracts of Jon Miller and Joe Morgan weren’t renewed.

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tradedeadlinedayToday is NHL Trade Deadline Day. For anyone subjected to a steady diet of sports television coverage in Canada, this is a fact that would be difficult to escape. There are few subjects that garner more attention from mainstream sports networks in the Great White North than hockey, and there are few single-day events in the sport that are more conducive to those employed by media outlets for their “insider” status than the last day in which NHL teams are allowed to make trades before the end of the season.

It all sounds exciting. Breaking news. Superstars on the move. Teams going all in. General managers getting roasted. Future lineups being projected.

Trade Deadline Day is a lot like New Year’s Eve. In our minds we imagine that we’ll spend the last day of the year as though it’s 1991, and we’re Axl Rose. In reality, we’re negotiating with a cab driver how much we’ll pay for the vomit that spilled out of our mouths on the back seat of the taxi. Likewise, we imagine today to be about draft picks being exchanged for impact players that will decide whether the current season is bust or boom. In reality, today is about dozens of men in suits fiddling with smart phones trying to be the first one to share the details of a fourth line winger being traded for a sixth round draft pick via social media.

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