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I can't remember the last time I approached a Super Bowl Sunday without caring. As a longtime sports fanatic, last year I realized that I had oversaturated my life with sports and needed to cut back. For me, the obvious choice was to give up the NFL, and I've never looked back. As the sport with the sparsest amount of action of any that I know, and the worst broadcasters outside darts, the NFL had become an overblown joke to me.

Clearly, not everyone agrees, as it is phenomenally successful. This piece of overblown puffery from ABC News illustrates the point nicely. But why the messianic tone, asserting that football will crush all those who dare to oppose her? It has everything to do with the fact that ABC is broadcasting the Super Bowl tonight.

The piece demonstrates something about the sports media, and media in general, far more insidious than the popularity of the NFL. Nothing even approaching real analysis goes on in the newsrooms of the main media sources today. With the cross-linking and conglomerate ownership of media outlets, more and more of our mainstream media promote its own products and trash those of everyone else. Sports properties are no different.

Remember when you see another Toronto Star or Sun article trashing the Jays as "irrelevant", and as an inferior product, you are seeing one media conglomerate addressing one of its major rivals. When the Chicago Cubs fail to sign their first-round pick, it's described in the Chicago Tribune as a "snub" by the player instead of a failure of the team... because they are talking about a team they own; the Cubs themselves can do no wrong. Yankees fans who have their cable service with the wrong monopoly are denied Yankee games, because one cable giant is trying to fleece another into overpaying for the privilege of carrying their in-house TV channel. Radio and TV talk show host Jim Rome might criticize L.A. Dodger players, but never had a bad word to say for the badly mismanaged team, who were owned by his employer, Fox. Instead of actual journalists, newspapers and TV are increasingly hiring ex-P.R. flacks to provide content, like Richard Griffin. "Spin" has hit the sports pages, in a big way.

Remember to be critical of the news sources you read, even where it's just sports that are concerned. Corporate media reflects corporate interests, as they must; those who run businesses do not have the legal latitude to run them any other way. All I'm saying is that too much Richard Griffin will rot your brain... and that's a sentiment I think we can all get behind.

Enjoy the Super Bowl. 58 days until Opening Day.
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Coach - Sunday, January 26 2003 @ 01:01 PM EST (#98234) #
...worst broadcasters outside darts

I've never heard anything quite as bad as Phil Simms last week. He was clueless throughout the entire broadcast; made Joe Carter sound insightful and articulate by comparison. media conglomerate addressing one of its major rivals

The Star is entering the TV business, and Rogers has a publishing arm. No doubt, they view each other as competitors. I've speculated before that the paper's primary attack dog Griffin, and others, on occasion, rip the Jays in an attempt to drive down the value of the franchise. Why else would they be so negative? critical of the news sources you read

And please, don't ever confuse Batter's Box with a news source. We strive to be fact-free, and have no agenda beyond amusing ourselves. However, we are willing to sell our integrity.
_Mick - Sunday, January 26 2003 @ 01:15 PM EST (#98235) #
Please, don't ever confuse Batter's Box with a news source.

Coach, I think this should go on the site's masthead.
(I'm not kidding ... it's the kind of counter-intuitive statement that really captures blogging at its best. If blogs were news sites, Trent Lott would still be U.S. Senate majority leader.)
Gitz - Sunday, January 26 2003 @ 02:17 PM EST (#98236) #
I could add to Craig's insight by posting another diatribe, this one against the mass media, but it's been done better by folks smarter than I, and I don't want to bore anyone further.

My favorite ABC/ESPN/Disney moment was two or so years ago, when, during an ESPN broadcast of an Angels game, they had Michael Eisner in the booth for an inning. Any ideas what he talked about?
Dave Till - Sunday, January 26 2003 @ 07:20 PM EST (#98237) #
I've always thought that Griffin and his fellow attack dogs slam the Jays because they've grown to hate their jobs. While I actually like the SkyDome (honestly), it's not an exciting place to be when it's one-third full, and to have to be there night after night must be a little wearying after a while.

What I think bothers me most about Griffin is that he isn't a fan, and that he tends to look down on people who are baseball fans. He seems to be saying, "Serves you right for caring about the efforts of a bunch of guys wearing pyjamas and trying to hit a round object with a stick."

Comments on other posts on this thread:

- People have always been saying that football is the wave of the future, and that baseball is a fad whose time has passed. I remember people writing that 30 years ago. Me, I think football is boring - a bunch of guys line up and bump into each other over and over again. Zzzzz. I think the reason football is so popular is because people bet on the games.

- I like the idea of putting "Don't ever confuse Batter's Box with a news source" on the masthead. I'm not sure we're 100% fact-free, though - occasionally, a fact sneaks in when we're not paying attention. Perhaps we should advertise ourselves as 94% fact-free (or perhaps 6% facts and 94% non-fact additives).
_Mick - Monday, January 27 2003 @ 12:36 AM EST (#98238) #
Dave, I hope you're not suggesting that "legitimate news sources" (TM) are generally factual ...

I'm addicted to news and to newspapers, and am fortunate to live in a city that has one of the best newspapers in the world (The Dallas Morning News) but the conservative bias of even its front page stories (and the penchant for printing letters on the editorial page from readers berating the paper for its "liberal media bias") are a great amusement. (To be clear here, newspapers with a liberal slant do the same thing, except from the other side.)

I wouldn't want this blog to be confused with a news source because news sources aren't honest about what they present and, frankly, most people aren't smart enough or don't care enough to think hard about whether or note a cable news station claims "We Report, You Decide" really means it, or would be allowed to mean it by its corporate bosses. (See JG's Eisner comment above for related thoughts.)

Blogs -- not just this one -- are far more honest sources of information because they are usually quite clear about sociopolitical underpinnings. And because blogs provide more room for careful and extended argument, they are less likely to degenerate into the flamewars which dominate Usenet and most e-mail listerv or discussion groups.

In blogs, opinions and facts intermingle. In most news sources, they are often presented as each other.
_Jordan - Monday, January 27 2003 @ 09:52 AM EST (#98239) #
MLB really should hire the NFL's marketers, because they have some kind of genius to sell the Super Bowl as the Event of the Century when the games keep coughing up furballs like yesterday.

I have three quick suggestions for the NFL, too: (1) take a few million dollars from petty cash and hire some officials who can call a straightforward fumble correctly without benefit of instant replay; (2) recognize that defence is boring, that teams with dominant defences make for lousy TV, and that Brett Favre and Kurt Warner make better poster boys than Ray Lewis and Warren Sapp; and (3) send a friendly note to ABC suggesting that Al Michaels and John Madden join the Senior Broadcasters Tour. Say, Al, you've run through Frank Gifford, Boomer Esiason, Dan Fouts, Dennis Miller and John Madden, and still ABC's NFL ratings are sinking like a stone. D'ya see a common thread here?
Craig B - Monday, January 27 2003 @ 10:20 AM EST (#98240) #
And to think that I actually watched an hour of that game. I should write the NFL and demand it back. What a dog of a football game. I made the right decision to throw the NFL over the wall. Next up... the NHL.
_Scott R. Lucas - Monday, January 27 2003 @ 03:13 PM EST (#98241) #
I thought football had been annointed successor to baseball as long ago as 1958, when the overtime NFL championship game between NY and Baltimore occured. At the least, football was deemed a better form of entertainment for television, an important distinction. The action takes place on a smaller scale than a baseball field (thus easier to capture on camera), the fewer regular-season contests impart the air of an "event" rather than a mere game, and the structure of football imitates war as much as an athletic contest.

That said, the game has become quite dull. Instant replay, a terrific idea in theory, often saps the drama and momentum from the game. If the NFL had run the Globe Theatre, it would have interrupted the fifth act of Hamlet to insure that Laertes had wounded Hamlet first.

The league hasn't achieved parity so mach as randomness. Teams reach the Super Bowl and fail to make the playoffs the following season, to be replaced by sub-.500 teams from the previous season. To many (and certainly to the NFL) this breeds excitement. To me, the season has become a dice roll in which the outcome is irrelevant. Individual team success, even in the Super Bowl, is subordinate to The League.

The NFL seems to understand this, as its pinnacle game has become little more than a delivery device for other corporate interests which pay huge money to televise, advertise on, and/or get tickets to the game. The number of people watching the Super Bowl and paying to be associated with it is far more important than the game itself.

Anyway... about the authors of the puffery piece:

Steve Alperin writes the web blurbs for "World News Tonight with Peter Jennings." Brian Rooney appears to have made a transaction from "hard" journalism to softer fare. From his online bio:

"Rooney has focused his attention recently on Hollywood and the entertainment industry. He has reported stories on smoking in the movies, computer-generated 'synthetic actors,' and why a movie has only three days to attract an audience. He also covers breaking news stories throughout the West and spent two weeks living in a firefighters' camp, while wildfire threatened the small town of Show Low, Ariz. Rooney also fills his time with reports on such topics as the $150 yo-yo, the return of the slide rule, and a restaurant that serves only dishes made with mushrooms picked in the wild."
_Jordan - Monday, January 27 2003 @ 05:40 PM EST (#98242) #
Steve Alperin writes the web blurbs for "World News Tonight with Peter Jennings."

Good gravy ... someone actually takes credit for those things? Those miserable pop-up blurbs sum up everything that's wrong with myopic, brainless network news. A typical threesome of headlines:

Bush Issues Ultimatum to Saddam
J-Lo and Ben Steal Spotlight at Golden Globes
Is Your Pet Getting Enough Calcium?
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