10.18.2006

The Big Bad Wolf: A Partial Response to Bosox3458

Is the big, bad wolf scary because he's a wolf?

No.

Presumably, the woods through which Little Red Riding Hood traipses so carelessly are full of wolves, making this particular wolf especially imposing not in his wolfness, but in his bigness and badness. He is the exception to the rule of the general acceptability of wolves.

By emphasizing the Big Bad Wolf (henceforth, BBW) in our mythical parlance, we create an object of derision which eases the fear we might feel by contemplating the existence of wolves as a group, all of which would more than likely eat our grandmothers given the chance. Another way of saying this is that the BBW is a scapegoat.

Hang with me, sports fans...I'm getting there.

I only today saw the footage from the Miami/FIU game. It is, of course, shameful. More shameful still is the glacial and inadequate response on the part of the University of Miami and NCAA Football. The former I was surprised to see; the latter, I was not.

This fiasco reminds me of another which took place a few years back, during which an otherwise reasonable man named Mike Tyson took a Big-Mac-size bite out of Evander Holyfield's ear. I remember the shock and revulsion that followed, unanimously and without irony, from every corner of the sports and extra-sports world. "How could such a transgression be tolerated?" pundits clucked around the country. It was a greater sin, it seemed to me, than the rape of a woman.

But the reaction to Tyson's late nite bite wasn't the problem. Commentators who took issue with it were, of course, in tune with the general public's disgust. But the indignant surprise that such a thing could happen and the implicit agreement that the normal state of boxing as a sport was just fine I found sickening. I'm no pacifist (at least, I don't think I am), but I say if you create a sport that caters to (at best) a working-class group of young people, give them few other options, train them in essence to be killers (gloves and headgear notwithstanding), and glorify every life-threatening hit they deliver what you get is, in a word, gladiators. To say that Tyson biting Holyfield rather than delivering him his umteenth case of the dizzies is barbaric is to have both an uninformed definition of the word and an unhealthy piousness for the sanctity of "the rules." Tyson, to sum up, became the BBW, and boxing went ahead newly chaste.

I'm no fan of the U. In fact, Miami is probably my least favorite college football team, largely for the same reasons outlined so capably by BoSox 3458 and because I think Michael Irvin is an absolute caricature of himself. But to look at what happened last week as an aberration rather than the logical outcome of a formula is to pin the BBW on Miami and let college football as a whole off the hook. I worked in college football for two years, and it's a cesspool. Backhanded dealings, the erasure of the "student" portion of "student-athlete," perks which morph quickly into entitlements, and expectations the likes of which none of us who is not a college football athlete could meet: and this was 1-AA! With the NCAA, you have a business masquerading as an educational organization, the equivalent of calling Microsoft the computer club. This facade allows a number of otherwise reputable institutions to take in ridiculous sums of money on the backs of its own set of gladiators who, like all gladiators, are given few options. And, since this is football, they are trained to hit people as hard as they can, to seek advantage when no one is looking, and, finally, to make a name for themselves. The idea is that if everyone does this individually, the team will become fearsome.

Well, mission accomplished, and there's no doubt that Miami and Larry Coker have much, perhaps more than anyone else in the sport, to answer for. But let's not allow this moment to pass without interrogating the nature and status of college football as a whole. Yes, Miami is a joke, but to call many of these young men college students is a bigger joke. And the biggest joke is to join in the chorus of shocked and horrified pundits who point at Miami and thank goodness that the "rules" don't permit this sort of thing. I'm not saying that football shouldn't be violent. I'm saying that we don't get to be sanctimonious when it gets real.

Battle of the Blowups: Green vs. Mora



Watching the Dennis Green press conference was pretty entertaining. And the entertainment value grew when I read this morning that Green had replaced his Offensive Coordinator (he's looking for something else within the organization for him) Keith Rowen.

As good as it was on the press conference meltdown scale, it didn't even come close to topping my personal favorite - then Indianapolis Colts Head Coach Jim Mora. His nasally rant was the rant of a generation. While Green's was good, it has a long way to go to approach Mora status. Press conference meltdown immortality hinges on a memorable and mockable catch phrase (i.e. "Playoffs?"). Green's shot might be his "You want to crown 'em, then crown their ass!" It's nice but doesn't get to the point as well as "Playoffs?"



As I was creating this post, I was surfing around to some of my usual favorite reads and saw that The Big Lead was already all over this comparison - actually beat me to it by a full day. They also have pulled the Calipari-Cheney fight out of the archives which isn't in the same category but is worth a look nonetheless.

Dennis Green or Jim Mora: Which Rant Rules? [The Big Lead]
Dennis Green Has Solved the Cardinals' Problems [Kissing Suzy Kobler]

10.17.2006

Beware the Digital Underground


In case you missed it, yesterday blogs and 55 Problems fav Deadspin came under fire in an internal ESPN memo to radio affiliates. The memo, which you can see in part here, explained that per "ESPN editorial policy" the use of "underground" sites (read: blogs) and Deadspin in particular as a source of credible information is strongly discouraged. Anything I could possibly say in response to that ridiculous sentiment has already been said and then some in the Deadspin comments for that post. I encourage you to read all of them (currently 313 of them - my favorites were the Digital Underground references).

Anyway, I decided I could contribute to this situation without posting my "take" on the secret police, synergistic, cross-promoting methods of ESPN, by making these wonderful blog warning messages available to bloggers everywhere. I encourage you to download these (animated versions below) and place them on your own sites. I plan on taking extreme pride in my lack of credibility and I hope you do too. Special thanks to 55 Problems contributor Meg-han for the stellar graphics (perfect for the situation).

Coming To You Live From The "Underground" [Deadspin]


Al Davis and Bob Barker

I had the good fortune to attend the Broncos/Raiders game on Sunday night, tagging along with a friend who was tagging along with someone who actually had suite tickets to the game. Suites are, well, sweet, and it's a good thing the beef tenderloin was good because the football was rotten.

The next morning, as I sipped my coffee and avoided work, I caught the tail end of The Price is Right. They were doing the Showcase Showdown, the classic final battle between two hurrendously T-shirt clad TV junkies for what can only be termed "fabulous prizes." In this case, the prizes were actually pretty fabulous, including a NEW CAR and a trip to Australia. But I digress.

As I was watching Bob dole out the goodies, I suddenly made a connection between the Raiders and TPIR...they're both the result of a longstanding commitment to a formula attached to an aging patriarch.

Bob Barker IS The Price is Right. When he's gone, it's gone. There's no question about it. And the fact that all the staging on the show is pretty much the psychedelic same as it was in 1976 (do they have that color green in stores anymore?) shows the degree to which the producers understand the comforting function the show performs in households around the country. In a word, everything's crazy, but I still have Bob and his big, beeping wheel. You find TPIR, and you know it's almost time for lunch.

I wouldn't say that Al Davis IS the Raiders in the same way, but I think he certainly feels he is. In much the same way doublenicks sees George Steinbrenner as self-defeating in his largesse, Al Davis is tragic in his self-aggrandisement. While Bob Barker still trots himself out there into the limelight and gamely allows hysterical consumers to dig in his pockets, Davis sits in darkness with pursed lips.

No one's afraid of the Raiders anymore. But they still employ bad boys like Randy Moss, Warren Sapp and Robert Gallery and they still commit more penalties than a prison work crew. But rather than facemasks and late hits, it's false starts and illegal formations. The ethic behind Just Win, Baby is one of all out war, of victory no matter what the cost. It's a formula that no longer works and hasn't for a long time because the Raiders can't get out of their own way.

The formula, I think, will remain in place as long as Davis is around. The facade of being the league's pariah is the only marketing option the Raiders have left, but I wonder if even their fans believe it anymore.

Is Steinbrenner Retarded? [55 Problems]

10.16.2006

Miami is a Joke

Over the years, there have been many instances where either current or former Miami players have gotten in trouble. The brawl on Saturday between Miami and Florida International University is just another instance. 31 players, 13 from Miami and 18 from FIU were suspended. But the ACC is not doing enough to discipline Miami. The game should have been forfeited and players such as safety Brandon Meriweather and Anthony Reddick should be dismissed. Reddick, who was suspended indefinitley for swinging his helmet like a weapon at FIU players, could have killed someone. Merriweather has had legal issues before when he fired shots at someone who shot at a teammate of his.

Larry Coker should be fired for losing control of the program; remember, back in January, Miami and LSU were invovled in a brawl after Miami was trounced in the Peach Bowl. Coker also recruited Willie Williams who does not attend the school anymore after being dismissed; Williams had an extensive criminal record. At the beginning of the season, wide reciever Ryan Moore and tailback Tyrone Moss were among the many suspended for incidents. Moore was suspended and has not played in any games this year after an altercation with a female on campus. Moss was suspended for violating "team policy."

Back in 2005, a 2-year-old recording surfaced on the internet, a rap that was profanity-laced and insults women and minorities. "A group calling itself the 7th Floor Crew - the name reportedly comes from the seventh floor of the Mahoney Residential College, campus housing at Miami - made a recording referencing multiple acts of group sex, derogatory terms for women and minorities and dozens of curse words that lasts approximately 9 minutes. School officials say the song was recorded two years ago, but that seems to offer little solace." (espn.com)

It is known that many football players lived on the 7th floor of that dorm.
Players such as Michael Irvin and Sean Taylor have come out of Miami and had NFL careers filled with run-ins with the law. Taylor was arrested in 2004 for a DUI and again in 2005 for aggravated assault with a firearm. In the 2006 NFL playoffs, he spit in a player's face and was fined. Michael Irvin has had drug problems and was at one point arrested for cocaine possesion along with possesion of other drugs.

It is unclear why Coker has not been fired even after all of the issues he has had with the program. Maybe they should Hire Joe Girardi to whip the players into shape...