Thursday, August 11, 2005

TO eggs supporters; Nancy Clark eggs bloggers.

I really appreciate Terrell Owens getting suspended for not working out with the team, especially since myself and others have defended his position. Now we have egg on our face.

I know he's got a groin injury, that's not in question. The thing is a lot of players practice and play with pulled muscles all the time. And it looks especially curious that a groin injury would keep Owens from practicing with the rest of the football team, especially since seven months ago he played well in the Super Bowl on a far worse injury.

Owens' beef is with management, not his coaches and teammates. The problem is, he's hurting his coaches and teammates with his actions. It's not so much a likability issue as it is a trust issue. Football is unique in that the success of one depends on how well others do their jobs. In order for Terrell Owens to do his job, Donovan McNabb must throw him the ball. The offensive line must give Donovan the time to throw it. And L.J. Smith, Brian Westbrook, and the wide recievers must run their routes in such a way that attention is drawn away from Owens for the split second needed to create a passing lane in between McNabb and T.O. And the coaches have to coordinate all this. But everyone else has to trust that T.O. is going to be on the other end of that pass, and right now, no one's sure if Owens will be there.

The other players are not stupid, and neither is Andy Reid. They know Terrell Owens, as talented a player as he is, was a problem in the San Francisco locker room. They can also look up and see that his last season in a 49ers jersey, when he was sulking his way out of town, he put up his worst catch and yardage numbers ever.

Granted, one season is a hiccup, but another season where he sulks and doesn't produce is a problem. It's one thing to take a play off here and there like Randy Moss, and his fellow players ran him out of town. It's quite another to get your peers thinking that you take whole seasons off.

The other person he's hurting, unintentionally, is Drew Rosenhaus. Rosenhaus is more than capable of handling buisness negotiations with management without his client trying to tackle the issue for him. The problem is, Rosenhaus is hamstrung when his client looks like he's not trying to be part of the team. It makes a new contract a tougher sell to management when they think your client is unreliable.

Terrell Owens will be back Wednesday. He has the whole rest of the season after that to get right.

PETA Really Does Hate Animal Mascots

Some of you may have read my rant the other day on offensive mascots, saw the little phrase "animal mascots are offensive to PETA" and thought I was running jokey-jokes.

Well, I was trying to be funny. Unfortunately, it also turns out to be true. Which probably makes it more funny.

BlogPoll member Every Day Should Be Saturday has unearthed an old PETA Action Alert opposing South Carolina's animal mascot.

So it won't take long for PETA to start pushing for an animal mascot ban similar to the one on allegedly offensive Native American nicknames.

If PETA was really serious about the welfare of animals, however, they should stop killing the ones entrusted to their care.

Showdown: Mainstream Media vs. Sports Blogosphere.

Now, generally, I have no beef with the mainstream sports media. The sports section is probably the only reason to read the local paper these days, and the local sports cast, along with the weather, is the only reason to watch the local news. ESPN, while getting stale in it's old age and seemingly more coastal-biased, is still the "worldwide leader" in sports coverage and influential when it comes to many controversial issues. Sports columnists, because of the internet, now have a wider reach than just their local market. In fact one of my closest friends in the blogosphere also happens to be a sports columnist for a paper in Florida.

Me, I'm just doing this because I enjoy writing and sports is one of my favorite subjects. If people read it, gravy. It's not my day job.

However, while some members of the sports media have accepted the new media and are even bloggers themselves, others seem to feel threatened.

One of them, Nancy Clark, a college beat writer for the Des Moines Register, put her thoughts into writing recently. (Unfortunately, Clark's article is no longer on the website, but Kevin Donahue's rebuttal at Fanblogs contains some excerpts.)

Why is she complaining? I don't know. Maybe it's technophobia. If it is, she shouldn't worry.

Newspapers once chafed at TV news until they realized that people still read the paper in the morning and were wasting their money on evening editions. Then the internet came along and increased their readership.

Local TV affiliates once felt threatened by cable TV, until they realized that CNN still can't provide local news, weather, or sports.

Radio started out as a general entertainment medium, but has found it's niche by playing music and providing a forum for sports fans to sound off, and I suspect the introduction of satellite radio will force terrestrial radio to put more of a local emphasis on their music and programming in order to survive.

Now with bloggers entering the picture, everyone's going to have to evolve their buisness.

Clark also seems to lack understanding about blogs, which she revealed in an interview to blogger Orson Swindle of Every Day Should Be Saturday.

OS: Do you read any football blogs daily?

NC: No.

OS: Do you ever read them?

NC: Oh yeah. Occasionally I look at the ones that pertain to Iowa and Iowa state.

OS: Which ones?

NC: No, I can’t name them off the top of my head.
OS: Do you differentiate between bloggers and message boards?

NC: I differentiate between good, responsible bloggers and those who spew junk. Some of my friends are bloggers.

OS: You care to name them?

NC: No, I’d rather not.

OS: You stated that some bloggers are “losers”. Do you think most bloggers are “losers?”

NC: I couldn’t give you a percentage. I certainly think some of them are.

OS: Any in particular?

NC: No.
Hmm, can't name a blog, can't name a blogger. Maybe she should try researching?

Which brings us to Clark's major issue, that what bloggers do is unverified "journalism of assertion" based on rumors. Which is an absurd critique coming from any member of the media.

How many mainstream media outlets reported that the Red Sox were trading Manny Ramirez at the trade deadline? ESPN's Baseball Tonight and the Boston papers couldn't stop reporting about that one. And yet the trade deadline and waiver deadline both passed with Manny Ramirez still in a Red Sox uniform.

How many mainstream media outlets reported Steve Spurrier's rumored return to Florida? ESPN and sports talk radio was all over that one. Somehow, Spurrier wound up at South Carolina.

Mitch Albom also got caught reporting that two NBA players were at the Final Four when they weren't. Hardly qualifies as "verified"

I'd say that there's "journalism of assertion" going on in the mainstream media as well.

And when mainstream media prints an unverified rumor, sometimes it's us bloggers that have to correct it. I personally defused a couple rumors about trades involving Spurs Rasho Nesterovic that ended up turning out to be false.

Clark also seems to have the outdated notion that the media are somehow "objective." Everyone has a slant. The media, unfortunately, isn't honest often enough about what slant they take.

I am no different than the average human. However, my sports bias is posted for everyone to see. In the green box on top of the sidebar labeled "About Me", you will find that it says, "I graduated from Texas Tech in 2001" That's my college team. If you look down a bit, you can see that I also do a Spurs blog, so you can probably infer that I'm a Spurs fan. If you click on the link below the bio that says "View my complete profile", you will find that I'm a Dallas Cowboys fan, a Colorado Avalanche fan, and a Houston Astros fan as well.

No big mystery.

However, I have been critical of my teams when necessary. I thought the Cowboys' signing of Drew Bledsoe was a mistake. I have been critical of Bobby Knight for his comments about Mike Davis.

I have also given props to teams that rival mine. In my last Blogpoll roundtable, for instance I put A&M, a team I hate as a Texas Tech fan, at #11. An A&M blogger thought I was giving them too much credit, but based on their offensive talent and defensive talent, I thought that's where they should be ranked.

So I am biased. That doesn't mean I'm a homer, nor does it make me less of a fan when I'm not pulling for my team.

Boi From Troy makes a great point in defense of bloggers:
We're not objective and generally don't pretend to be. We report facts, but generally link back to our sources. We watch games and tell you what we think of them--because usually folks can read the score in a newspaper. And each of us has our own unique perspective--you'll never see Brandon Hancock or the Ting Twins shirtless in the L.A. Times, but you will at BoiFromTroy!
And that unique perspective allows for coverage that differs from mainstream media. Let me give you a recent example.

Mike Monroe in the San Antonio Express-News recently reported that the Spurs were looking for some free agents to fill their roster, but had to do it in such a way that they didn't exceed the luxury tax threshold. He also threw out some names that his sources said the Spurs were looking at.

So in my Spurs blog that day, I did a little comparison shopping. (You know, like you do at the supermarket when you have a budget.) I took all the players that were rumored to sign with the Spurs and evaluated whether or not the Spurs were likely to sign that player based on what I observed of their game, what statistics and scouting reports were available on the net (to see if they fit what the Spurs need and what type of player they usually look for), what the market is like for the player (high demand makes them more expensive), and whether the player was a restricted or unrestricted free agent (offers made to restricted free agents can be matched by their old teams, so in order to land an RFA, you have to pay an amount that the original team can't match). Even gave what I felt was the most cost-effective solution at the end.

Similar story, but I came at it from a different angle. Also, some rumors were defused in the process.

Bloggers also have more freedom to do posts that are funny, weird, or outside what a normal media outlet would do. We can even go off topic if necessary. Sports editors wouldn't allow their writers to review a video game, for instance, and ESPN will only review the games that have their name on it. No media outlet would ever review sports talk radio, but I did on Cheap Seats.

That's what I think some mainstream media people have the most trouble with. We're free to say and do almost anything, and sometimes that means the truth gets told about the mainstream media. (And by the way, if you're a blogger, you need to do posts about the mainstream media. It's part of the responsibility that comes with blogging.)

We're here, we're bloggers, get used to us.

Tomorrow: TBA

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