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Sports news from all over. Mostly NBA, but whatever

Fetishizing of Super Bowl ads

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Gordon's crisp Potato Sticks
Gordon’s crisp Potato Sticks

Amusingly, Phil Rosenthal agrees with me re: Super Bowl ads being over-rated.1

It’s not Super Bowl commercials I mind. I’ve actually liked a lot of them. I’ve enjoyed disliking others. My objection is how they’ve become fetishized.

Though they sell beer, cars, junk food and sundry other everyday items, services and ideas, we’ve been conditioned to treat them as something between objets d’art and Adam Sandler comedies.

Perhaps adored, perhaps abhorred, they’re tough to completely ignore.

It’s as if the fact that some marketer spent $5 million per half minute — up about 11 percent from $4.5 million last year — to pitch more than 100 million of us in the Super Bowl 50 audience obliges us to actually pay attention.

That attention, as reliable as the way we always dote on anthropomorphic animals year after year, in turn, helps justify the $166,666.67-per-second price, production costs not included.

Somewhere along the line, someone — maybe Don Draper, maybe Darrin Stephens — pitched Americans on the idea that television commercials are as much a part of Super Bowl Sunday as the game itself, and we bought it.

The queasy feeling that too many salty, fatty foodstuffs bring by the third quarter is as much a part of Super Bowl Sunday as the game too. But we’re not carpet-bombed with previews and reviews, encouraged to experience it repeatedly before and after the game and invited to try an extended and more intense version.

(click here to continue reading Fetishizing of Super Bowl ads: How much is too much? – Chicago Tribune.)

Doped Youth
Doped Youth

Should we be impressed by advertising just because it costs a lot to air? And create? Especially since so few ads are even worthy of our attention. Some are even worth our disgust, like:

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (NCADA) is hitting us again at the Super Bowl. This time with “All American Girl” – an ad that’s supposed to show that you should care about heroin abuse because it affects pretty white girls, too.

But, of course, the ad then doesn’t show what you do when someone is having a problem with heroin – it lets them just wander off in the distance. No, this is just another one of those frying-pan scared-straight attempts at prevention that have been shown historically to not work.

(click here to continue reading Another SuperBad Advertisement « Drug WarRant.)

Footnotes:
  1. and for the record, I didn’t read this essay until just now []

Written by Seth Anderson

February 6th, 2016 at 2:13 pm

Posted in Advertising,Sports

Tagged with

Super Bowl Ads Are Boring

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Vintage Asahi Beer Ad (Ramen Takeya)
Vintage Asahi Beer Ad (Ramen Takeya)

Once a year, non-sports fans are encouraged to watch the Super Bowl despite not caring a whit who is playing. The reason? The advertising is supposed to be of elevated quality. 

For instance, one of the most famous Super Bowl ads is the Apple Computer 1984 ad announcing the Macintosh:

Billy Jeans
Billy Jeans

John Ellis Bush! Bush is allegedly going to show his brother’s supportive ad during Super Bowl L:

Former President George W. Bush has cut a TV ad for the super PAC supporting his brother, marking the former president’s most public political activity in the campaign to date.

(click here to continue reading Exclusive: George W. Bush cuts television ad backing his brother – POLITICO.)

Great Price's (sic)
Great Price’s (sic)

Having sat through many boring football games to watch the ads, I’m not falling for it again. I’m not convinced that simply because something is expensive, it is good. The decline of Hollywood as a conduit of interesting films could arguably be dated from the time that box office numbers became the metric of whether a given movie was any good. Plot, character development, those became less important than having great special effects, and thus most films made today are superhero films, animated dross, or similar genres.

One Eye to Rule Them

One Eye to Rule Them

CBS already has the 2016 Super Bowl Commercials website up, so if there is something really interesting shown, you can go and spend your time watching beer, auto, pharmaceutical corporations trying to sell you their products. I wouldn’t say that advertising can never be clever, just that the typical target for Super Bowl ads seems to be 14 year old boys: the commercials are populated with fast cars, women with “child-bearing hips”, and puerile and jejune scenarios. Many ads seem solely as crass attempts at creating a “viral” sensation, or at least stirring up controversy. Alcohol, sugary sodas, packaged snacks, fast food, cars, software, electronics, probably some insurance company; am I missing anything by resisting their pitches? Doubtful.

If you are a football fan, by all means, watch the culmination of the season. For the rest of us, go for a walk or something.

Parenthetically, I’m amused that the NFL is not using the Roman numeral for 50, “L”, but only for this year.

You don’t have to brush up on your Roman numerals because it’s not going to be Super Bowl L for a few reasons. At the top of the list: Nobody wants to be associated with a loser. Especially the NFL.

“Some would ask, ‘The letter L, what does that associate with?'” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy says.

The answer, of course, is “Losing.”

Football is a game of X’s and O’s. But it’s also long been one of I’s and V’s, as virtually the only institution in our society that incorporates Roman numerals. Roughly a decade ago, the NFL first began examining what “Super Bowl L” looked like on social media, on mobile devices and on merchandise like T-shirts and caps. The short answer? It didn’t look good.

Using the number 50 was found to be much more appealing than an L, on many levels, from the negativity associated with losing to the aesthetic challenges posed by using the letter. So this year, and this year only, the Super Bowl will use more traditional numbering.

“The genesis is with Super Bowl XL 10 years ago,” McCarthy says. “We spent some time looking at what a block L would look like on its own, and [NFL Creative Services] said, ‘It could be a problem from a creative and design element that the letter L, on its own, without an I after it, looks unusual within the design world.'”

(click here to continue reading What the L? Why the NFL Sacked Roman Numerals for Super Bowl 50 | Rolling Stone.)

Written by Seth Anderson

February 6th, 2016 at 12:41 pm

Posted in Advertising,Business,Sports

Tagged with ,

The NBA Team That’s Bullish on the Opera

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Civic Opera Building
Civic Opera Building

Personally, I’d be happy to run into Pau Gasol at the Lyric Opera of Chicago or similar location, he seems pretty cool, probably an interesting conversationalist. Not all athletes are dumb jocks, especially not those who have made it to the professional level. Those mouth-breathers we all knew in high school might have been muscle-bound knuckleheads, puffed up on testosterone and vainglorious, but they didn’t have the intelligence and drive to make it to a professional sport career, or at least none of the idiot jocks I knew in high school.

Anyway, despite this not being one of the Chicago Bulls better seasons, so far, I do hope that Pau Gasol re-signs with the team this summer.

NBA players have too much time and too little to do. When they’re not in a basketball arena, the rest of their days are spent watching television, refreshing Twitter and fine-tuning their ability to fall asleep faster than almost anyone on earth.

Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic would rather go to the opera. Or the symphony.

This season, for the first time, Gasol and Mirotic both have been starters for the Chicago Bulls. But around town, they’ve become known as something else: the city’s biggest patrons of the arts. Gasol and Mirotic are regulars at the opera house. They have been backstage guests of the symphony orchestra. Officials from the city’s highbrow cultural institutions say they can’t remember professional athletes coming to any of their performances—let alone as many as these Bulls.

No one in the NBA is as openly obsessed as Gasol. The 7-foot all-star keeps Mozart and Chopin recordings on his phone, and he needs to think carefully before naming some of his favorite operas: “Carmen,” “La Traviata” and “Tosca,” which he has seen three times. He may be the only professional basketball player ever who says he enjoys watching operas evolve.

Opera Reminiscence’s 1829
Opera Reminiscence’s 1829

The abundance of culture in Chicago is actually one of the reasons Gasol plays for the Bulls. Gasol grew up around music in Barcelona, but it was only when he was with the Los Angeles Lakers that he went to the opera for the first time. It turned out to be something of a day spa—a place where he could escape from the world. “Especially during the season,” he said. “It takes my mind off basketball.”

Gasol, who is friends with the legendary tenor Placido Domingo, has made the arts such an essential part of his life that they played into his decision to sign with the Bulls as a free agent last year, he said. Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf introduced Gasol to the right people at the Lyric, and it wasn’t long before he was a familiar face at operas, concerts and musicals across the city. “I’m a big supporter of arts and culture,” Gasol said. “I think they’re traditions that we need to continue to pass on to younger generations.”

(click here to continue reading The NBA Team That’s Bullish on the Opera – WSJ.)

Ruled by Bureaucracy
Ruled by Bureaucracy

Unload the Culture Truck
Unload the Culture Truck

The Civic Theatre - TRI-X 400
The Civic Theatre – TRI-X 400

Civic Opera Hovse
Civic Opera Hovse

Written by Seth Anderson

February 1st, 2016 at 8:31 am

Posted in Arts,NBA,Sports

Tagged with ,

N.F.L. Needed A Handout from Chicago To Host Draft Town

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The Twelfth Player in Every Football Game
The Twelfth Player in Every Football Game…

I am not a fan of football – I couldn’t name five starters on any NFL team – but while reading about the Draft Town event that muddled up downtown traffic all weekend

When N.F.L. executives chose last year to move the draft for the first time in a half-century, the decision was based as much on issues in New York as opportunities elsewhere.

But the three-day event in Chicago went so well that the league now faces a new choice: whether to return here next year or move the draft to yet another city.

On Thursday and Friday, 110,000 people visited Draft Town, the free fan festival in Grant Park across the street from the theater where the draft was held. On Saturday, larger crowds were expected when selections in the fourth through seventh rounds were announced at the festival. The crowds far exceeded the league’s original estimates.

Many fans who came to Chicago were from N.F.L. cities within driving distance — Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Green Bay, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Minneapolis and St. Louis — giving the draft a Midwestern feel.

 “How could we not come?” said Alex Paszkowski, a Packers fan who drove 90 minutes from Milwaukee with two friends.

(click here to continue reading City for Next Year’s Draft? N.F.L. Could Have Its Pick – NYTimes.com.)

Rahm Has A Message For You
Rahm Has A Message For You…

I read this tidbit:

The league attracted sponsors for its fan festival and persuaded the host city, Chicago, to contribute. The success of the event this year could give the N.F.L. leverage in negotiations with other cities.

“When you negotiate with the N.F.L., you usually lose,” said Allen Sanderson, an economist at the University of Chicago, who added that while the draft helped market the city, it did not provide many economic benefits.

Wait, does that mean the City of Chicago got hosed by the NFL? One of the largest corporations on the planet – a nonprofit corporation even, for some crazy reason – needed a cash-strapped city’s funds to host an event that benefits only the NFL? /shakes fist at Rahm Emanuel  Mayor 1%

Written by Seth Anderson

May 4th, 2015 at 7:38 am

Three Walls in Search of a Ball

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Ball and Hockey Playing Prohibited
Ball and Hockey Playing Prohibited

In re: the 20 photo slide show linked to below, I’ve often wondered about the signs restricting handball playing. In all my life, I’ve never witnessed anyone ever playing handball against a wall, but there are so many posted notices. I guess it was part of the anti-Irish sentiment of that time, and the signs simply remain. Or else, munchkins only come out early in the morning when I’m still asleep…

A century ago, handball was one of the most beloved sports in Ireland, its typical three-walled alley, or court, a fixture in villages and at crossroads. But these were “more than just places where people came to play handball,” says the photographer Kenneth O Halloran, who visited nearly a hundred abandoned courts in Ireland and Northern Ireland last year. “People came to socialize, to dance.”

After the game moved indoors around the 1950s, many courts that were not demolished became places for parking or storage. There is little nostalgia among the Irish for handball alleys, O Halloran says. “I don’t think people would value them the way they value a traditional cottage, old crosses or ancient ruins,” he says. “A lot of people see them as eyesores.” J

(click here to continue reading Three Walls in Search of a Ball – NYTimes.com.)

Written by Seth Anderson

May 10th, 2014 at 7:45 am

Posted in News-esque,Sports

Tagged with , ,

Photo Republished at Seven steps for the beginning hockey player

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Blackhawks Patrick Kane Hoisting Stanley Cup 

My photo from the 2010 Stanley Cup Parade was used to illustrate this post

Just because you’ll never be as good as Patrick Kane doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start playing. (Photo by Seth Anderson / Flickr & Creative Commons)

click here to keep reading : Seven steps for the beginning hockey player

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Written by eggplant

July 9th, 2013 at 11:11 am

The Lance Armstrong Conundrum

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Livestrong guitar in AUS
Livestrong guitar in AUS

The Ethicist, Chuck Klosterman, was asked

It was recently demonstrated by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency that Lance Armstrong used performance-enhancing drugs during the seven years when he won the Tour de France. During the same period, Armstrong started Livestrong, a cancer-support organization known for its ubiquitous yellow bracelets. Is the unethical nature of Lance’s doping offset by the fact that his Livestrong organization has touched many lives in a positive way? Is it even right to consider Livestrong in our ethical analysis of Armstrong’s doping? MYRIAH JAWORSKI, WASHINGTON

The specific ethical problem with Armstrong’s use of performance-enhancing drugs is debatable. What’s less debatable are the unethical extensions of that behavior, the treatment of his teammates and his willingness to perpetuate a conspiracy that willfully deceived his supporters. But that’s not really your inquiry. What you’re asking is how we’re supposed to weigh the many bad things Armstrong did against the very good charity he created.

This is ultimately a question about motive. A cynic might argue that even Armstrong’s involvement with Livestrong was self-serving, since its beneficence made people want to believe he was not lying about his own impropriety. Yet this is mere speculation. We don’t know Armstrong’s true motives, and we clearly can’t believe whatever he claims those motives were. All we can do is work with the accepted reality: Armstrong helped the lives of many cancer victims by being the most talented cheater within a sport where cheating is rampant. Now, does that positive conclusion “offset” the unethical exploits that allowed it to occur? I would say it does not. And I say this because they are too interdependent to isolate and judge. There is no right or wrong way to feel about Armstrong, but however you feel should be based on the totality of his career. Everything has to matter.

(click here to continue reading The Lance Armstrong Conundrum – NYTimes.com.)

Hmmm, Livestrong wouldn’t even exist without Lance Armstrong cheating and lying his way to multiple Tour de France titles, and yet…

What do you think? It isn’t a clear cut question as, for instance, continuing to support Susan G Komen For the Cure of Right Wing Women despite their clear political stance, or even for that matter, enjoying Alfred Hitchcock movies despite knowing he was probably an abusive, predatory man.

Full disclosure, I have never signed up for Livestrong, but I do use their online nutritional database periodically to look up information about food I am eating – it is a good resource. 

Written by Seth Anderson

November 11th, 2012 at 6:11 pm

Physical Therapists Use Wii Golf to Treat Patients

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Let the Games Begin
Let the Games Begin

I haven’t played Wii in a long time, in fact, our Wii isn’t even hooked up to a television at the moment. I want to play now, after reading this:

In the world of health care, Nintendo Wii golf is more than a high-tech toy. The video game has become a tool in physical, occupational and neurological rehabilitation.

“It really is helpful as an adjunct to what we do in physical therapy,” said Dean Beasley, the director of inpatient rehabilitation at Doctors Hospital in Augusta, Ga. “It allows the patient to put into practical application what they’ve done in therapy and, in some cases, it helps them know if they could still play golf.”

Balance and movement are common concerns for those recovering from brain injuries or strokes. Others may be working to improve range of motion or gross motor coordination, like walking and lifting.

Although the treatment for each patient is different, Wii golf brings an element of pleasure into physical therapy, which is often abbreviated as P.T. and sometimes referred to by patients as “pain and torture.”

“If it’s something like golf that they previously enjoyed, the patients are more motivated to do it,” said Michaela St. Onge, an occupational therapist at Aroostook Medical Center in Presque Isle, Me. “They like it because it’s a change of pace from the normal exercises we give them in therapy.”

To play the game, a patient swings the Wii’s wireless hand-held motion-sensitive wand in front of animated screens that simulate holes on a course. Physical therapists have marveled at the ease in coaxing patients into movements that could have taken more time to achieve in the traditional manner. Patients may gain the ability to coordinate by pressing buttons on the wand and maintain balance while looking at the screen.

Two years ago, Aroostook’s inpatient and outpatient units added Wii Sports, which includes golf, baseball, bowling, boxing and tennis games.

(click here to continue reading Physical Therapists Use Wii Golf to Treat Patients – NYTimes.com.)

Written by Seth Anderson

September 12th, 2012 at 9:39 am

Posted in Games,health,science,Sports

Tagged with

LeBron James Has No Class

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Chicago beating Cleveland 71 - 0
Chicago beating Cleveland 71 – 0

Matt Moore posted this bit of frippery:

On Tuesday, the blog Cleveland Frowns posted an interview with a server at XO, a Cleveland steakhouse regarding LeBron James. It described his eating behaviors, including the infamous stories about his tipping habits, among other things. There’s the usual stuff about James acting like one of the most pampered people on earth, because, well, he’s a guy who has “Chosen One” on his back, makes $16 million a year and calls himself King. You kind of have to prepare yourself for some stuff.

But this? I was not prepared for this (emphasis mine):   (S)he also told us that LeBron liked to drink apple martinis, which comes as no surprise because apple martinis are delicious, and if you had a job where you could take a four-hour nap every day to sleep off the sugar hangover, you would drink them, too. Relatedly, LeBron would ask his servers to have his steak (well done) already cut up for him, which corroborates a report by a (former?) server at Johnny’s who once told Grzegorek that LeBron would order his spaghetti cut up as well, and also of course enhances the credibility of our source. via “LeBron liked me because I didn’t put up with his crap” — Exclusive Interview with Former XO Steakhouse Server Who Frequently Waited on the NBA Superstar.

Wait, what?

Look, I can forgive the appletinis (easy on the tini). I’m not expecting everyone to drink whiskey, scotch or gin (I suppose technically you could make a gin appletini, but I don’t consider that real gin). It’s a little ridiculous, but the man dunks on Kevin Garnett, I’m willing to let that slide.

But well-done?

Cut up for him?

I’m sorry, that’s where I draw the line.

And listen, a bunch of stats-loving geeks are going to try and talk to you about food poisoning statistics and eating efficiency. But anyon who’s ever actually eaten a steak at the professional level knows that’s all nonsense. Real steak-eaters don’t think of things like that. And they know that if you’re ordering anything above medium-rare, you’re essentially saying “please burn all the flavor out of this $35 piece of meat.”

(click here to continue reading LeBron James and a question of taste – CBSSports.com.)

Dry aged New York Strip Steak

LeBron James is 27 years old, according to his birth certificate, and still wants someone to cut his steak for him? I can almost empathize with ordering a steak well done in hostile environments – though not really – but if you are unable to cut a steak yourself, perhaps you should stick to easier foods, like tater tots and chicken nuggets. Or Gerber’s baby foods. Yeesh.

Oh, and that LBJ is a poor tipper on the order of a measly $10 tip on an $800 bill, seems par for the course. The man practically exudes a smell of entitlement, hubris and unlikeability.

Written by Seth Anderson

February 22nd, 2012 at 6:20 pm

Posted in Sports

Tagged with ,

Turning stadiums into homeless shelters

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Sunset at Safeco Field
Sunset at Safeco Field

This would be the best solution to the ongoing saga of billionaire sports owners ripping off their local communities, right? Too bad it isn’t a national bill…

According to a 23-year-old Florida law that has been mostly ignored, professional sports facilities built with the help of government funds are required to house the homeless on nights when no official events are taking place.

Two lawmakers have dug up that old statute, and are pushing bills that would make stadium owners return millions of taxpayer dollars if they can’t prove they’ve been operating as a haven for the homeless in the years since they began receiving checks from the government. The bill passed its first committee in the Senate on Monday with a unanimous vote.

“We have spent over $300 million supporting teams that can afford to pay a guy $7, $8, $10 million a year to throw a baseball 90 feet. I think they can pay for their own stadium,” said Sen. Michael Bennett, R-Bradenton, who is pushing the bills along with Rep. Frank Artiles, R-Miami. “I cannot believe that we’re going to cut money out of Medicaid and take it away from homeless and take it away from the poor and impoverished, and we’re continuing to support people who are billionaires.”

Bennett’s bill would force owners of sports facilities like the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami and Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg to refund millions of dollars and begin operating homeless shelters on off-nights. So far, the state has spent more than $270 million on constructing stadiums, with the former Dolphin Stadium receiving $37 million and AAA taking $27.5 million. It is unclear whether any of the stadiums, which receive monthly subsidies of about $166,000 each, is operating an active homeless shelter program.

 

(click here to continue reading Bill would enforce law turning stadiums into homeless shelters on off days – Florida – MiamiHerald.com.)

via

We’ve fulminated against the sports stadium boondoggle a few times, like here, here, and many other times

Written by Seth Anderson

January 24th, 2012 at 5:52 pm

Posted in government,Sports

Tagged with ,

As Tax Receipts Lag, Another Hole Opens in Chicago Budget

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To Soldier Field
To Soldier Field

Another entry in the stadium boondoggle file – an already-overstuffed folder full of corporate welfare for the 1%. They get to own the teams, act like big shots, but we the taxpayers get to pay the debts.

A recent audit of the city-state stadium authority’s books revealed that for the first time, hotel tax revenues are not yielding the amount needed to pay off the debt that the agency took on 10 years ago to rebuild Soldier Field.

The shortfall means that Chicago’s bottom line, which is already sagging, will take yet another hit, because the city is required to come up with the money under the Soldier Field deal.

Officials for the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority said Thursday that the shortfall would not be as bad as it was first feared and should not be repeated next year. Still, one of Mr. Emanuel’s new appointees to the authority’s board looked at the debt service payments due in the next 20 years and expressed concern that the problem could get far worse, even if tourism revived and hotel tax revenues rose again.

“The city has to begin to plan for some significant outlays,” said Jim Reynolds, an investment manager and new member of the board, who was attending his first agency board meeting since Mr. Emanuel replaced the three hold-over mayoral appointees on the seven-member panel.

Thursday’s meeting took place in the agency’s offices at U.S. Cellular Field, built on the South Side more than 20 years ago to keep the White Sox from moving to Florida. State lawmakers created the I.S.F.A. to guide the ballpark’s $150 million construction and then to operate the facility.

The new fiscal problem for City Hall, however, stems from the Soldier Field deal and represents another time bomb that Mr. Emanuel inherited from Mayor Richard M. Daley. To keep the Bears in Chicago, Mr. Daley pushed successfully for the authority to issue almost $400 million in bonds for the $606 million Soldier Field renovation.

 

(click here to continue reading As Tax Receipts Lag, Another Hole Opens in Budget – NYTimes.com.)

and Mayor Emanuel isn’t so happy about the mess the Daley Gang left behind:

The $1.1 million shortfall was disclosed in an independent audit obtained by the Tribune through a records request. The firm, , declined comment.

Earlier in the day, Emanuel said that Chicago taxpayers should not be treated like cash machines to help cover renovations at the two sports facilities. He said he wants a healthy Chicago sports industry to add the city’s quality of life, but it should not come at taxpayer expense.

“I don’t want the taxpayers of the city of Chicago to be treated as if they’re just an ATM machine; they’re not,” he said at an unrelated news conference.

The mayor recently replaced three members of the authority’s board with veterans of the financial services industry and said he “gave them clear instructions” about what role he wanted them to play.

“You’re not there for yourself, you’re not there socially, you’re there as the voice of the taxpayers of the city of Chicago,” Emanuel said.

(click here to continue reading Mayor: Don’t use taxpayers as ‘ATM machine’ to cover costs at U.S. Cellular Field, Soldier Field – chicagotribune.com.)

The clouds in july are mostly in the plain
The clouds in july are mostly in the plain

whether or not there was an extra $1,000,000 the City of Chicago was liable for or not, this year, we still covered most of the costs of both Soldier Field and U.S. Cellular Field, and pay at least $5,000,000 every year, and sometimes more:

This was the first time the tax revenue fell short since 2001, when a new law allowed the authority to issue bonds for renovations at Soldier Field – changes that at the time officials like then-Mayor Richard Daley and others said were needed to keep the Bears in Chicago.

At the time, the agency provided more than $400 million toward the $600 million project, which included some money for work at U.S. Cellular Field. The ISFA increased its debt, but the city agreed to cough up the extra money if hotel tax revenue fell short. Soldier Field reopened in 2003, but cost overruns made the total for the entire project about $690 million. A Tribune analysis showed the public portion was actually about $432 million.

The $1.1 million transfer was disclosed in an October independent audit that the Tribune obtained via a public records request. This goes beyond the annual $5 million subsidy the city provides already.

…More recently, the agency has come under scrutiny for its deal with the White Sox. The Tribune and WGN-TV reported last month that the authority picked up the $7 million tab to build a restaurant outside the stadium but allowed the team to keep the profits.

(click here to continue reading Chicago taxpayers helped pay for work at U.S. Cellular Field, Soldier Field – Chicago Tribune.)

Written by Seth Anderson

December 3rd, 2011 at 9:31 am

SEC targets MLB shady business

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Rangers and White Sox
Rangers and White Sox

Don’t know which is worse: the major league sports stadium boondoggle, or the corporate welfare boondoggle? They might be tied.

Jeff Passan reports:

For two decades now, Major League Baseball has funded its rise from corporate slacker to gilded cash cow on the backs of taxpayers bullied into building new stadiums. It’s a marvel the government took so long to sniff out the rot that emanates from these deals, though not much of a surprise that the Miami Marlins were the target when they did.

The Security and Exchange Commission on Thursday launched guided warheads at the Marlins, requesting the team’s financial records, communications with MLB officials including commissioner Bud Selig, minutes of meetings with local government leaders and political campaign-contribution information, according to a report in the Miami Herald.

While the subpoenas issued by the SEC do not explicitly detail the purpose of the investigation, the feds’ motives are evident: They want to understand how, exactly, a group of county commissioners agreed to fund 80 percent of the Marlins new stadium, which cost more than $600 million, without ever seeing the team’s financial records – and whether bribes had anything to do with it.

The Marlins pushed the limits on exactly how much a team can hold its city hostage. They cried poverty and threatened to move unless they got a new stadium while refusing to disclose their financial records – records that were later leaked and showed a team swimming in tens of millions of dollars in profits and funneled millions more to a corporation run by team owner Jeffrey Loria. Miami-Dade County commissioners nevertheless voted 9-4 in favor of taking out loans that will cost the county $2.4 billion over 40 years to help build the stadium in Little Havana, about two miles west of the city.

(click here to continue reading SEC targets Marlins’ shady business – MLB – Yahoo! Sports.)

Hey, the 1% wants to own sports teams? Fine, but either the city that funds the team gets a say in personnel decisions, or the owners have to pay for their own hobby out of their own pockets.

Written by Seth Anderson

December 3rd, 2011 at 9:17 am

Posted in Sports

Tagged with ,

Joe Paterno and the inherent Corruption of College Sports

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The Twelfth Player in Every Football Game
The Twelfth Player in Every Football Game

Joe Paterno, social conservative and proud Republican, was allowed to remain coach of Penn State long enough to break the record of most victories because Penn State valued the contribution of the football program’s revenues more than raped children, and that is shameful. In the 2009-2010 school year alone, Penn State’s football program reported revenue of $70,208,584  ((as reported to the U.S. Department of Education)) and profits of $50,427,645!  ((Of course, student/athletes don’t get any of that cash – all they get is free tuition, another scandal if you ask me)) That’s the reason Paterno wasn’t fired in 2002. Or rather, $700,000 reasons, give or take.  (( roughly $70 million times ten years))

The university’s most senior officials were clearly seeking to halt the humiliating damage caused by the arrest last Saturday of the former assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky. Mr. Sandusky had been a key part of the football program, but prosecutors have said he was a serial pedophile who was allowed to add victims over the years in part because the university he had served was either unable or unwilling to stop him.

Mr. Sandusky has been charged with sexually abusing eight boys over a 15-year span, and two top university officials — Tim Curley, the athletic director, and Gary Schultz, the senior vice president for finance and business — have been charged with perjury and failing to report to authorities what they knew of the allegations. Neither Mr. Paterno nor Mr. Spanier was charged in the case, though questions have been raised about if they did as much as they could to stop Mr. Sandusky.

(click here to continue reading Penn State Coach Joe Paterno Is Fired – NYTimes.com.)

The NCAA is a corrupt money machine, more interested in television rights than student athletes.

On average, [the richest 68 college football programs] earned $15.8 million last year, or well over $1 million per game.

They posted that jump in combined profit even though revenue rose by only 6% to $2.2 billion. That means the schools had a combined profit margin of 49%, enough to make any pro team owner green with envy.

Increasingly lucrative broadcast deals and strong ticket sales have been driving revenue. And, of course, not having to pay your athletes gives big-time college football the ultimate business model.

(click here to continue reading College football’s profit tops $1 billion for first time – Dec. 29, 2010.)

In Motion -TRI-X 400
In Motion -TRI-X 400

Also shameful is:

After top Penn State officials announced that they had fired Joe Paterno on Wednesday night, thousands of students stormed the downtown area to display their anger and frustration, chanting the former coach’s name, tearing down light poles and overturning a television news van parked along College Avenue.

The demonstrators congregated outside Penn State’s administration building before stampeding into the tight grid of downtown streets. They turned their ire on a news van, a symbolic gesture that expressed a view held by many that the news media exaggerated Mr. Paterno’s role in the scandal surrounding accusations that a former assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, sexually assaulted young boys.

“I think the point people are trying to make is the media is responsible for JoePa going down,” said a freshman, Mike Clark, 18, adding that he believed that Mr. Paterno had met his legal and moral responsibilities by telling university authorities about an accusation that Mr. Sandusky assaulted a boy in a university shower in 2002.

Demonstrators tore down two lamp posts, one falling into a crowd. They also threw rocks and fireworks at the police, who responded with pepper spray. The crowd undulated like an accordion, with the students crowding the police and the officers pushing them back.

“We got rowdy, and we got maced,” Jeff Heim, 19, said rubbing his red, teary eyes. “But make no mistake, the board started this riot by firing our coach. They tarnished a legend.”

(click here to continue reading Penn State Students Clash With Police After Paterno Announcement – NYTimes.com.)

Really, clueless college students? You are rioting because a child molester-enabler was eventually fired, years after he should have been? Disgusting. Are football victories really that important to your self-worth? More than protecting kids from being raped? I hope for your sake, you don’t post any photos of yourself rioting in support of this creep: future employers might not think your logic skills are sound.

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Tony Auth’s take on Penn State’s priorities

Update: Elizabeth Gettelman of Mother Jones concurs:

Penn State did the right thing tonight when it fired its storied football coach Joe Paterno (and its president, Graham Spanier). But it’s pretty little, and it’s way late. Joe Paterno remained Coach Paterno for nearly a decade after learning that his former defensive coordinator had allegedly raped a 10-year-old, and for nearly a year after a grand jury investigation confirmed as much. In fact, he stayed coach just long enough to become the winningest coach in Division I college football history, a record he achieved two weeks ago, 11 months after said grand jury investigation (see page 8 referencing December 2010 interviews). Had his complicit role come to light last December would Paterno have had a shot at his record-breaking victory? If present outrage would have held, and it should have, then no, he wouldn’t have coached at all this season.

The timing is probably not a coincidence, and it’s illustrative. This whole hellstorm was swept under the rug for so long because of the money machine that is college football, a successful program with a superstar coach and a sterling reputation is money in the bank, and when you’re Penn State that’s $50 million a year kind of money.

(click here to continue reading Penn State’s Joe Paterno Shouldn’t Have Coached a Game This Season | Mother Jones.)

The clouds in july are mostly in the plain
The clouds in july are mostly in the plain

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Signe Wilkinson’s take on Penn State, Inc.…

and Mike McQueary should be drummed out of the coaching business for his cowardice:

Penn State wide receivers coach Mike McQueary allegedly witnessed Jerry Sandusky performing a sexual act on a young child in a Lasch Football Building shower in 2002…and didn’t intervene.

This detail is in the grand jury report about the scandal surrounding Sandusky and Penn State University.

I’ll start this by saying my knowledge of the law is limited, but I understand the idea of an accessory. Usually, however, the person is a witness to murder. In this instance, McQueary was a witness to an alleged rape.

And he left.

These are all things that McQueary has admitted. He must feel terrible, being that he was 28 years old at the time and did nothing. However, the thought that he physically walked away from a rape is disgusting.

(click here to continue reading Penn State Scandal: Why Mike McQueary Deserves Jail Time | Bleacher Report.)

Written by Seth Anderson

November 10th, 2011 at 9:15 am

Posted in Sports

Tagged with , ,

The Electric Dock Ellis Acid Test

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A.J. Daulerio of Deadspin tried to recreate Dock Ellis’ famous no-hitter, albeit on a video game, but the LSD was real.

“Can we get some pizza now?”

But in order to get that type of nourishment one must go

Outside!!

I had been instructed not to go outside by people who were more accustomed to these types of activities than I was. The cozy confines of the apartment were the only place for a 37-year-old first-timer like me, they said. It only took a few brisk steps to realize what they had been talking about. The normally straight sidewalk on Court Street between Union and Sackett started to tilt to the left in a comical, funhouse way. The storefront signs were more vivid than usual; the swooping cursive letters on Italian bakeries were now a menacing Satan font. Couples pushing strollers passed by me and I looked the other way because I was ashamed and too paranoid that they’d see my eyes bouncing or that I’d stare too long at their kicking babies and they’d call the cops.

By the time we arrived at the pizza parlor things were threatening to go haywire. That ricotta pie was clearly agitated by my presence. Toder relayed my order for me and handled the money transaction with the counterperson, because I could not possibly participate in such activities with the dickhead pizza being all mouthy and with the fearsome heat of that big oven so close by. Toder handed me my large cup of Dr Pepper and we were soon outside again on the crooked sidewalk, headed back to the ballpark inside my TV to accomplish greatness. The Dr Pepper was so good. So, so good. Why this was not the beverage of choice for all when life goes awry was unfathomable. Hey, look, the sidewalk is back to normal. Everything’s coming up me. I needed to hug something.

(click here to continue reading The Electric Dock Ellis Acid Test: An Attempt To Recreate His Drug-Addled No-Hitter, On Xbox.)

Amusing, though A.J. Daulerio doesn’t actually succeed in throwing a no-hitter, but you should read his explanation of the experience.

Actual footage of Dock Ellis on LSD don’t seem to be available, but this YouTube creation by James Blagden and No Mas is pretty good. Excellent, in fact.

In celebration of the greatest athletic achievement by a man on a psychedelic journey, No Mas and artist James Blagden proudly present the animated tale of Dock Ellis’ legendary LSD no-hitter. In the past few years we’ve heard all too much about performance enhancing drugs from greenies to tetrahydrogestrinone, and not enough about performance inhibiting drugs. If our evaluation of the records of athletes like Mark McGwire, Roger Clemens, Marion Jones, and Barry Bonds needs to be revised downwards with an asterisk, we submit that that Dock Ellis record deserves a giant exclamation point. Of the 263 no-hitters ever thrown in the Big Leagues, we can only guess how many were aided by steroids, but we can say without question that only one was ever thrown on acid.

Sadly, the great Dock Ellis died last December at 63. A year before, radio producers Donnell Alexander and Neille Ilel, had recorded an interview with Ellis in which the former Pirate right hander gave a moment by moment account of June 12, 1970, the day he no-hit the San Diego Padres. Alexander and Ilels original four minute piece appeared March 29, 2008 on NPRs Weekend America. When we stumbled across that piece this past June, Blagden and Isenberg were inspired to create a short animated film around the original audio.

Written by Seth Anderson

July 13th, 2011 at 7:17 am

Posted in humor,Sports

Tagged with , ,

NBA Trade Rumors

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Dunking on the Sears Tower
Dunking on the Sears Tower

Sam Smith, the Chicago Bulls beat writer  1 answers a question I’ve long wondered about: namely, who comes up the wacky trade rumors, most of which have no basis in reality? Who benefits?

I always wondered how trade “rumors” begin. Are 99% of what we hear really started at the water cooler or some bored journalist? Do pro-ball teams have a representative that reports to the media every time they are considering a deal? How can all these “reports” out there even get out in the first place? For example, “Lakers are said to offer Lamar Odom to the Timberwolves for the No. 2 pick.” – How would this info get out? Do GM’s have a private line or access to every other GM in the league or a yellow pages of sort where just they have access, call them up and talk shop? Are their phones tapped? Someone under the desk listening with a notepad? Are any offers emailed through today to other GM’s? I’ve been caught up in draft day, free agency periods the last 30 years and I am finally just too damn curious how this entire process works. If anyone can explain this the right way to us all, it’s got to be you.

Josh Ryan

Sam: You have come to the right place. I even had an owner ask me this a few days ago when one of his players was mentioned in a deal and he said no one on his staff discussed it with anyone. There are some that start badly as you say, with a couple of guys talking and “what if” becomes “I hear.” That’s tremendously irresponsible, but there are some major web sites these days which basically have a policy never to admit a mistake and just publish denials, as if that covers them. Plus, it has become a bit of a game to report something with the idea that this is just entertainment reporting and for discussion so what’s the harm? There are two ways most rumors begin and one problem is the pressure many media people are under for these internet scoops with the constant refresh button issue. Often a team will call another and propose something, like Odom for Love and No. 2. The other team laughs and says how about Kobe and Pau for Darko. And that’s that. But then some scout who heard it in their office tells someone “can you believe the Lakers asked for this?” And technically it is true that is was “discussed.”

For some media people to get “hits” in this era that’s enough as it is true that it was “talked about.”

The evil underside is agents. That’s where much of the ugly stuff comes from. What some of these guys do is leak stuff to reporters in an attempt to embarrass a competitor. So then they pursue their client and tell him that if he changes agents things will be better. Though, after all, it is just discussion. And by now, really, most players and fans have come to understand often it just good talk and talk radio type discussion. The truth also is teams routinely ask other teams about basically everyone on their roster to try to determine the worth of their own players. I have no doubt, for example, the Bulls have mentioned to other teams everyone but Rose to get an idea what the player’s value might be. That goes on all year, and what the reporting really shows is how few of these talks ever really get out as opposed to you thinking so many do.

(click here to continue reading Ask Sam | Sam Smith opens his mailbag | 06.24.11 | Bulls.)

 

Footnotes:
  1. and former Chicago Tribune star []

Written by Seth Anderson

June 25th, 2011 at 10:59 am

Posted in Sports

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