Sports

Sports

The NBA All-Star Game Gets an Overhaul

The NBA All-Star game is getting an overhaul. Paolo Uggetti, writing at The Ringer, describes the changes:

Instead of an East vs. West matchup, teams will be picked based on playground rules, with two captains selecting from the remaining pool of players, according to an announcement by the NBA on Tuesday.

The initial All-Star voting process will remain the same as last season: five players (two guards and three frontcourt players) from each conference will be selected by votes from fans, players, and media, and the remaining 14 players will be chosen by NBA head coaches. But now the top fan-vote-getters in each conference will be enlisted to choose, fantasy-draft style, who among the remaining 22 gets to play for which team.

Seems like a needed fix when most of the All-Stars are now in the western conference. Hopefully it makes the games a little more fun as well.

The Inside Story of How the FBI Rocked College Basketball

Mark Schlabach, writing for ESPN:

The FBI announced Tuesday that 10 people, including four college basketball assistant coaches, were arrested as part of a two-year investigation into bribes and other corruption in the sport.

Assistant coaches from Arizona, Auburn, Louisville, Miami, Oklahoma State and USC were implicated in the investigation, and on Wednesday, Louisville announced that athletic director Tom Jurich and longtime basketball coach Rick Pitino have been placed on administrative leave.

And Jay Bilas:

The NCAA states that it protects players from being exploited commercially. Does that ring true to anyone? The NCAA uses the players as billboards for apparel deals and uses their names and likenesses to sell the product, and to sell media-rights deals. The NCAA continues benefiting from this multibillion-dollar business, while the players get only a scholarship, and the only ones exploiting the athletes are the NCAA and the member institutions. When you use a person to make money while at the same time limiting that person from making money, you exploit. Players are certainly not mistreated, but they are exploited.

How the NFL Watered Down Colin Kaepernick’s Protest

Jamil Smith, writing for The Washington Post:

No true protest assuages those who are already comfortable. Athletes, especially those who wear a helmet for a living, must know that they have limited windows for communicating their truths to the American public. Protests during the anthem are their best avenue. They know that there are many people in America who don’t give a damn about black people outside of those three hours when their team is on TV. Last weekend, at least for those linking arms, that time was annexed, repackaged and sold.

And Michael Baumann, writing for The Ringer:

That’s what this debate is about: Some say cops shouldn’t be able kill people of color with impunity, and others want everyone else to shut up and go back to watching football. There aren’t two worthwhile viewpoints here, and there’s no greater condemnation of our culture than the idea that both sides deserve equal consideration.

They Took a Knee

Megan Garber, writing for The Atlantic:

The president had, once again, misrepresented the situation. The players are not, as a whole, protesting the national anthem. (There are bodies in the street, Kaepernick had said.) They are not protesting the flag. They are protesting police brutality against African Americans. They are protesting the lack of legal accountability for the officers who enact that violence. They are protesting, more broadly, the ways racism gets codified in America, the ways it is expanded from a personal evil into a societal one.

Colin Kaepernick Has a Job

Rembert Browne, writing for Bleacher Report:

Here in Turlock, he absorbed every survival skill necessary to live phenomenally among white people, so expertly that they begin to make assumptions—not that you think you’re white, but that you’ve stopped concerning yourself with That Race Stuff, that you are finally content. It is a commonly unfair expectation thrown upon many an agreeable non-white person in a white space in America. But as a black man with a black biological father and a white biological mother, adopted by loving white parents who raised him in a majority white town to become a star three-sport athlete, a God-fearing Christian and a model citizen, this went well beyond the experience of a privileged American jock.

Helluva read. Highly recommended.

111 NFL Players Examined, 110 Were Found to Have C.T.E.

The New York Times:

Dr. Ann McKee, a neuropathologist, has examined the brains of 202 deceased football players. A broad survey of her findings was published on Tuesday in The Journal of the American Medical Association.

Of the 202 players, 111 of them played in the N.F.L. — and 110 of those were found to have chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or C.T.E., the degenerative disease believed to be caused by repeated blows to the head.

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A Struggling ESPN Lays Off Many On-Air Personalities

The New York Times:

ESPN on Wednesday began another round of layoffs, this one aimed at on-air personalities, perhaps the starkest sign yet of the financial reckoning playing out in sports broadcasting as cord-cutting proliferates. […]

The network has lost more than 10 million subscribers over the past several years. At the same time, the cost of broadcasting major sports has continued to rise. ESPN committed to a 10-year, $15.2 billion deal with the N.F.L. in 2011; a nine-year, $12 billion deal with the N.B.A.; and a $7.3 billion deal for the college football playoffs, among many others.

The Ringer:

This is what’s mind-blowing about the ESPN layoffs. It’s possible that the money the network decided it had to cut is so big that it couldn’t just prune people from fading properties like SportsCenter, or more fully abandon its plan to colonize local sports pages, which had been evident for some time. Here is ESPN cutting a digital reporter covering its biggest growth sport — one of two writers it attached to maybe the most popular sports team on the planet right now.

March Madness Bracket Challenge

March Madness is upon us. I’ve created an ESPN group if you’d like to fill out a bracket (or two). I’ll gift the winner of our group this year a free supporter package for a year as a prize.1

You can find all the times for the games here, and our NCAA Basketball thread is always a great place to be during the games themselves.


  1. If you’re already a supporter I’ll extend your package for free, since I don’t have merch or stickers made yet to give out. I should get on that.

Elliotte Friedman on the Viral Michael Phelps Race Call

By now you’ve probably seen the viral video of a Canadian announcer messing up the call while Michael Phelps wins yet another gold medal. Michael Rosenberg spoke with the announcer for Sports Illustrated and it’s a master class in taking responsibility and dedication to your profession:

He only has two requests. One is that I write that if an athlete messed up like that, we would want the athlete to talk, and that’s why he is doing this. He is no hypocrite. The second request is that I put the mistake entirely on him. When I ask if a producer or production assistant was in his earpiece during the race, he bristles. It’s his fault, he says. Entirely his. Write it that way.

Bill Simmons Announces ‘The Ringer’

Last week Bill Simmons announced his upcoming new website, The Ringer. Today his partnership with Medium for the publishing of said website has been announced. Edward Lichty’s post about the partnership is filed with PR platitudes but one line in particular set off my bullshit detector:

We eliminate the need for any investment in tech, provide access to a growing network oriented towards meaningful engagement, and deliver constant, always-on innovation from a world-class product development team, whether you’re a single blogger or a large commercial publication — all for free.

I think Medium is a really interesting product and a great environment for hosting medium to long form text — and I’ll continue to recommend it for a certain set of writers. But any company promising this sort of thing for free is really saying for right now. The other shoe drops eventually. I’d recommend a read of David Winer’s “Anywhere But Medium” for the counter argument.