Posts Tagged ESPN
The NFL has suspended Jacksonville Quislings quarterback Varg Vikernes for four games for deflating the footballs he used to beat nine French tourists to death last year.
The league called the discipline “relating to the use of underinflated footballs as tools of death and dismemberment” necessary to stop behavior “detrimental to the integrity of the league.”
Vikernes, who went on an anti-French murder rampage outside of the team’s stadium after Jacksonville’s 51-7 loss to the Houston Frotteurists in December, believed that “someone had to take a stand against their decadent lifestyle, Jewish tendencies and obsession with flaky pastries”.
While Vikernes would not deny his participation in what the media is calling #Deceasegate, he claims that the footballs used were regulation sized. According to his agent Mehlvin Goehring, “Vikernes would not willingly use undersized footballs in order to murder French people. His commitment to the proper use of regulation murder weapons is unparalleled in both the NFL and the black metal community.”
Sports talk radio was aflame with anti-Vikernes rhetoric today. On ESPN’s morning radio show “Mike and The Barely Coherent Mook”, host Mike Greenback opined, “You can’t just murder people with underinflated footballs. There are rules that must be followed!”
“What sort of league would we have if players just went around killing one another with weapons not approved by the NFL? What if the Bears wanted to knock Aaron Rodgers out for the playoffs and threw a toaster oven in the bathtub with him instead of using NFL approved arsenic in his coffee? Or if the New England Bartholin Glands decided to bludgeon Abbath to death with a sledgehammer instead of stabbing him multiple times in the face with a regulation sized kitchen knife? It’s a slippery slope if you’re not playing on a level playing field.”
According to ESPN afternoon host Clam Cowheart, “See if you can follow me here… it’s not the actual murders that made the NFL punish Vikernes. He murdered French people. Americans HATE the French! They changed the name of fries to Freedom Fries in this country after a group that wasn’t EVEN FROM France attacked the US.”
“No one cares about Vikernes killing some French people whether he used regulation-sized footballs or mini-footballs or waffle irons. It’s the cover up. If Vikernes had come out right away and said ‘Yeah..I killed a few Frenchmen with some underinflated footballs’ the public would have forgiven him in a second. Just like Nixon…if he had told the truth right away he would have gotten a third term. He’d probably still be President today. It’s the lie that gets you in trouble. Has been since the beginning of time.”
Several former NFL players attempted to go on the record in support of Vikernes, but due to severe head injuries they received while participating in the sport they were incapable of uttering anything besides a few grunting, gurgling noises.
Tired of being hounded by the press about his interest in the Ohio State head football coaching position, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer today unequivocally denied any interest in taking the Ohio State job. Meyer, who only weeks ago signed a contract to coach at Ohio State, denied that he has had contact with AD Gene Smith or that he was even aware that Ohio State existed. Meyer claims that the recent press conference where he was introduced as the Head Coach was “a complete and total fabrication.”
Earlier today outside of his office in the Ohio State football complex, Meyer decried the media’s rampant speculation about his plans and willingness to report rumors instead of solid facts. “They just take a few pieces of information and run wild with them,” said Meyer decked out in his brand new Ohio State coaching jacket. After a Buckeye Booster Club Luncheon and a long day of preparing for next year’s home opener against Miami of Ohio, Meyer declared that he was looking forward to taking the next year to spend time with his family.
Ohio State University, already reeling from NCAA imposed sanctions for 2012, now faces the unenviable task of hiring a new coach even though they have already hired one who is currently coaching the team. In a press release issued by the University, the Athletics Department stated definitively that they are “Looking forward to celebrating several championships in the Urban Meyer Ohio State era even though it will not be taking place.”
Meyer reacted frostily to the claims of some reporters that he has been wavering in his commitment to Buckeye football. “I have been very clear about my intentions of not not not not not not coaching at Ohio State next season. I’m not sure what else I can say.”
ESPN, which is already inundated with several major stories about pre-season NBA basketball and reports of Tim Tebow drinking a glass of water, led their SportsCenter broadcast with 55 minutes of coverage of Meyer’s denial. In an interview with ESPN’s Shelley Smith, Coach Meyer denied ever issuing a denial. “I am obviously currently the Ohio State Head football coach. I am not,” said Meyer in an attempt to clarify the news reports about his interest in the Ohio State job that he took last month.
There is an oft-quoted line popularized by Mark Twain that says, “There are lies, damned lies and then there are statistics.” Twain clearly hadn’t listened to much sports talk radio. If he had, he would have said, “there are lies, damned lies, statistics and then there are sports talk show hosts with statistics.” The truth of this quote became apparent to me, as it often does, while listening to the Colin Cowherd radio show the other day.
In fairness to Cowherd (which could only be his real name in a truly cruel universe), he does a very entertaining show. He is engaging and often makes me want to argue with him, which seems to be the point of most sports talk radio shows. Louisville Coach Rick Pitino once referred to sports talk radio as “the fellowship of the miserable”, which would apply to much of what I’ve heard, but not to Cowherd’s show which is quite upbeat and enjoyable if you can ignore the nearly endless stream of commercials for hair growth products and lite beer. That being said, Cowherd is the best I’ve heard at taking a statistic and making it mean a whole bunch of things that it doesn’t. If it weren’t for sports radio I am convinced he would be making millions of dollars a year convincing people that 9 out of 10 dentists prefer Aquafresh. The ability to take numeric information and blow its significance way out of proportion to the point of near absurdity is a skill that those who are successful in the business have mastered.
Cowherd can make a number dance like few I’ve ever heard. In support of some ludicrous theory that a recently lobotomized six year old couldn’t have been conned into, I once heard the man say “if you believe that I’m right 98 percent of the time, which I am, I must be right about this as well.” Basically, what he’s saying is that if you have been duped into believing the rest of the nonsense that comes out of my mouth, don’t you think you should believe this too? What strikes me about this quote is how the number really makes the argument seem plausible. Last time I checked, there was no agency that gives scores to sports talk radio hosts based on the veracity of their ravings. He clearly was making a hyperbolic point about his acumen as an “understander of all things sports related.” I caught myself thinking, after the sixth or seventh time I heard him say this, “well…he is right 98 percent of the time. Maybe this isn’t so far-fetched.” Take a fake number, repeat it over and over to justify an absurd claim and watch the magic happen.
Where Cowherd is really at his best is when he has a real number to mess around with. The other day I listened to him take one statistic and turn it into an hour of wild speculation, conjecture and rage. Sports radio at it’s finest. He started the madness by giving a statistic that was tangentially related to Ben Roethlisberger, the quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers who seems destined to one-day share a prison cell with Art Schlichter. The stat showed that the Steelers record gradually improved during each month of the season when Roethlisberger was playing and not on suspension, awaiting arraignment or injured. During the first month of the season, the Steelers won half of their games and lost half, by December the Steelers significantly better than average (or .500 as is the accepted term among sports junkies). Cowherd had the audience call in and guess what this meant. By the second caller, Cowherd had found the answer he was looking for. It was obvious that this stat proved, beyond all doubt, that Roethlisberger did not prepare enough in the off-season. He went on to back his point up by referring to the fact that he had gotten into several scrapes with the law while he was away from his team. I marveled at the simple beauty of this argument. Point A: The Steelers have gotten better in terms of wins and losses as the season has gone on over the last few years Point B: Roethlisberger has gotten in trouble with the law during the off-season. Therefore, Roethlisberger is unprepared when the season begins.
There are an almost limitless supply of problems with this argument. Quarterback production is only one in a series of thousands of things that affect a football game. Maybe they had other significant injuries. Maybe they played a more challenging schedule in September. Maybe they are better in cold weather. Using one of the more ridiculous clichés in sports, maybe they are more of a “clutch” team. Maybe they are affected adversely by the position of the moon as it relates to Saturn during a certain period of the season. Maybe they are lucky. Who knows? If anyone believes quarterback play always correlates with victory or defeat I could point you to any number of examples, including Roethlisberger’s nightmarish Super Bowl XL victory performance to prove the opposite.
Another problem with the argument is that he doesn’t bother to explain what being “prepared” means. Is he implying that he doesn’t work out enough in the off-season? If so, I would argue that he would be more adversely affected at the end of a rigorous, punishing football season than at the beginning. As a basketball coach, I don’t do conditioning work with my players so they will be fast in the first two minutes of our opener, I do it so that they will be physically able to handle the long, tiring effects of a season. I’m quite sure a good number of coaches and players think this way as well. Maybe he meant Roethlisberger is not mentally prepared. Does that mean he doesn’t watch enough game film? Does it mean he doesn’t meet with his receivers after practice? Does it mean he doesn’t spend extra time in meetings with coaches? Or is Cowherd, as I suspect, simply throwing out a buzzword at an easy target to try to work his audience into a lather? He never defines it or uses anything beyond this one, lonely stat to prove his point so how can I assume anything but the final option.
The worst criticism I could ever throw at sports radio is that it should be immune to this sort of critique because it’s just a mindless time waster meant to get people riled up for no purpose other than selling people things they don’t need. That might in fact be true, but many people who enjoy sports spend a lot of time with it. There should be some expectation of something beyond “getting the audience worked up” even in the things that we accept as entertainment. As an audience member, I appreciate being treated as a thinking human being who is interested in seeing how statistics relate to reality and not as a rage-filled 35-51 year old male who will consume more products if made angry.