Posts Tagged bad journalism

Rick Reilly is incredibly sexist

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Recently, Kelly Kulick became the first woman to win a Professional Bowlers Association Tour title. Congratulations to her. Unfortunately, Rick Reilly, in a typically feckless and self-serving attempt to position himself as the arbiter of all that is true, just, and righteous in the world of sports, has declared this accomplishment to be “The greatest moment in women’s sports.” His sole criterion for making this ridiculous assertion seems to be that Kulick beat men to do it. And he apparently has no idea how condescending, patronizing, and downright sexist that logic is. Fortunately, I do.

Let me start with a premise that I don’t think any serious feminist or physiologist would disagree with: On the scales of potential physical strength and speed, the distribution of men is centered around a higher mean than that of women. Put another way, ceteris paribus, men are likely to be faster and stronger on the whole than women. Put a third way, elite male athletes trained to achieve their highest potential physical attributes, are faster and stronger than elite female athletes trained the same way. That difference in potential physical capacity, is, I think, one of the only non-debatable differences between the sexes.

Now, bowling is a sport in which that difference does not figure strongly, if at all. The ability to roll a 17 pound ball at bowling speed is a feat well within the physical potential of probably the upper 80th or 90th percentile of all women. I’m no bowling expert, but it seems to me that pure physical strength and speed take a back seat to technique, repetition, timing, muscle memory, and some endurance. I think most serious people would agree that men and women are fairly equal in terms of their potential when it comes to those attributes. So why is it shocking at all that a woman could beat a bunch of men in a bowling tournament? Well, it’s not, unless you’re a twit sports writer that wants to hawk magazines by giving women a pat on the head, while simultaneously reinforcing the dominance of patriarchy by making women’s achievements meaningful only in reference to men.

The history of sports is replete with examples of accomplishments of women that are great for their own sake, and not because they were compared to men. Steffi Graf’s 1988 grand slam, Kerri Strug’s injured olympic vault, Mary Lou Retton before her, Mia Hamm leading the US to a World Cup, FloJo and Jackie Joyner Kersee on the track are all examples that come to mind of women achieving greatness through years of dedicated training, and in the face of unimaginable pressure. Kulick’s achievement should be viewed through that lens, and her accomplishment not minimized by giving it meaning only because she competes with men. Come on Rick Reilly.

Editors Note: I hope our regular readers will forgive this brief foray into feminist theory. I’m certainly no feminist, but I’ll do whatever is necessary to end Rick Reilly. Please feel free to insert your own driving or neuroses jokes at your leisure. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go make sure the girl I brought home from the bar last night is doing my laundry correctly. It’s so hard to find good help these days.

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Somebody give Stephen A. Smith a football team right now

Go to and check out the poll results. The People don't lie.

Please. And then put them in the NFC East. Everybody’s favorite Jim Rome knock-off (ed. note: why do you want to imitate somebody that nobody likes in the first place? I digress.) got over his little spat with the Philadelphia Inquirer just in time to drop this abortion, ripping the Eagles for refusing to hold on to veterans generally, and Brian Westbrook specifically. The official Speakerboxxx reaction was to do what I always do when Smith starts talking, namely to bang my head on my desk for a few minutes and then try to rip out my toenails with pliers to see if I can still feel pain. But this time I’m going to throw in the little twist of trying to refute his nonsense with logic and reason. So with the happy disclaimer that I have have a total hard-on for Brian Westbrook and everything he did for the Eagles, here it goes.

No matter how much things may change, leave it to the Eagles to remain the same. Produce, and they’ll keep you.

I’ve always liked the Eagles for their innovative thinking in the front office.

Brian Westbrook sure doesn’t [like it], and who can blame him? After eight years of relatively exemplary service, tainted by an injury-plagued 2009 season, the same running back who led the NFL in yards from scrimmage in 2007 is suddenly looking for a job. Mainly because he was due $7.25 million in a 2010 season that is expected to be uncapped.

What other reason would there be? Anyone with a casual understanding of the market for athletes knows that more often than not, teams are paying for past performance, not current performance. Players put up huge years, get huge contracts, and then regress to the mean. Well managed teams (read: not the Washington Redskins) try to minimize this phenomenon by not overpaying for the value a player provided a season or two ago. Do you really think Westbrook should be compensated in 2010 for the value he provided three seasons ago?

But Reid, Banner and all the others in charge who repeatedly fall short of Super Bowl glory year after every stinking year get to keep their paychecks coming, huh?

Reid is increasingly on a short leash for his in game performance. But Joe Banner manages the Eagles payroll in a way that would make any high end wealth manager envious. The front office continually finds undervalued talent, and as a result the Eagles are one of a handful of teams that has cap space year after year if they need to go after a big name free agent that they think might be worth the asking price. The reason they don’t is that Banner knows he can find comparable production for far cheaper. And Jeff Lurie owns the place.

Where’s Don “Only in America” King when you need him most?

Joe Banner washes his hands before he touches his dick.

The Eagles wouldn’t hesitate to point out Reid’s 108-67 record over 11 regular seasons (a .617 winning percentage). The eight winning seasons in that span. The five trips to the NFC title game. The Super Bowl appearance in 2005. The constant, unwavering, continual support of the local faithful, which has padded owner Jeffrey Lurie’s bulging wallet along the way.

Let me phrase that another way. The Eagles franchise, based on Reid’s tenure, has almost a 50% chance of reaching the conference title game in any given season. That borders on unbelievable in a league with this kind of parity.

And write it down for posterity…on February 25 in the year of our Lord 2010, someone first used the words constant, unwavering, continual, support, and faithful in the same sentence to refer to a Philadelphia Eagles fan base who, regarding personnel and performance, is as capricious as any in American sports.

But what about a Super Bowl?

“The Eagles don’t really care about that,” said one noted NFL agent, preferring anonymity, knowing he may have to deal with the Eagles in the future. “It’s not that they don’t care about winning. It’s really about what they define as winning. They pride themselves in being like the Patriots, but they’re nothing like New England. The Eagles look to scoot away talent at age 30, looking to infuse their youth movement, while the Patriots won’t hesitate to add a veteran here or there.”

Let me put this in context. The NFL, with a 16 game regular season, is only slightly better than a crapshoot. That is to say, the sample size isn’t large enough to be sure that the best team is actually winning. Again, the Eagles consistently excellent regular season performance over the last decade is testament to Reid and Banner. But the playoffs are even more of a crapshoot. As Billy Beane knows, all you can really do is consistently put your team in a position to compete in the playoffs. To say that a Super Bowl win after that is pure luck is pushing it, but it is subject to no small amount of random chance.

Regarding the Patriots comparison, there’s more of one than you might think. The Patriots won’t hesitate to add a veteran here or there when the veteran is severely undervalued by the market. Corey Dillon and Junior Seau could have made more money tending bars than most NFL teams were willing to pay them when the Patriots came calling. What the Patriots won’t do is hang on to a veterans at compensation rates that are disproportionate to their production for reasons of sentimentality. Neither will the Eagles.

Brian Dawkins can attest to it. So can Hugh Douglas. So can Jeremiah Trotter, Bobby Taylor, Jon Runyan, Tra Thomas, Troy Vincent, and a host of others.

I’ll give you Brian Dawkins off that list, and maybe Jeremiah Trotter the first time he was released, as mistakes.

That’s not to say the Eagles made the wrong decisions with any of those individuals at the time they were made.

So why cite it as evidence in your argument?

So who will lead this franchise in the season to come, in a likely uncapped year in which the Eagles have eight restricted free agents of their own? Who’ll decide to revert to 2004, when a gutsy move brought Terrell Owens to town, and firmly decide that second place and consolation prizes are no longer acceptable?

What about acquiring Julius Peppers? Or Minnesota’s Chester Taylor? How about calling up the Carolina Panthers and seeing if one of their 1,000-yard runners, DeAngelo Williams or Jonathan Stewart, may be available? And since Broncos coach Josh McDaniels seems to have his issues with Brandon Marshall, why not call Denver for an inquiry to get McNabb some help?

Terrell Owens didn’t win any Super Bowls in Philadelphia, by the way. As for the others, who’s to say they’re not talking to people about these guys. Julius Peppers is probably overvalued, but Chester Taylor certainly is not. Neither is Ladanian Tomlinson while we’re on the subject of veteran pass-catching running backs that excel in West Coast screen happy offenses. DeAngelo Williams will end up being overpaid for past production. Jonathan Stewart could be a bargain, I don’t know. Brandon Marshall could be undervalued because of his behavior issues, but just as likely the Eagles will let a big spender take a flier on him. The point is that you can’t lump all these players together as the type of veteran leaders the Eagles would automatically pass over. Their front office is as good as any at feeling out the market waters, and spending money when they know they can get the appropriate production.

But go for it Steve A. Apply for a GM job, go pay a bunch of “veteran leaders” like Albert Haynesworth and Brandon Marshall and and Brian Westbrook for their 2007-2009 production and see how it works out. Just make sure you do it for a team that’s in my favorite team’s division.

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What do you know about the Olympics? Well,I’ve seen it on television of course. Television? NBC. Their coverage is excellent. You’d be surprised at what you can pick up.

You know…I didn’t really notice it until Vato said something in passing about it a few days ago, but yeah, NBC should definitely consider including some Olympic coverage in its Olympic coverage the next time around. They will routinely get on air and run puff piece after puff piece for an hour or so until the event starts. And then Rick Reilly will say something incoherent. I know they’re trying to generate interest in casual fans, but I don’t think they realize that only people that already have an interest in the event are going to tune in anyway.

And Christ is it really necessary to include 20 hours of curling coverage per day on two or three channels, occasionally simultaneously? I think NBC took this kind of nerd-chic ironic interest in getting into curling as the sport actually having a huge following. I mean, it’s not like I’m really concerned with the Biathlon opportunity cost, but come on. Anyway, all of this is kind of nit picking because the Winter Olympics is really only relevant as an awesome hockey tournament, with a couple peripheral events like figure skating and maybe skiing and snowboarding.

And while I’m on the subject, the rest of the media/blogosphere is correct that the decision to show some of the big events on a delay was stupid. That is all.

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Paul Finebaum Write Good

Not Paul Finebaum

I think I’ve mentioned it before (and I certainly can’t be bothered to fact check that in the archives), but if you are not reading Paul Finebaum’s weekly defecation into the metaphorical water supply of journalism then you are doing yourself a great disservice. 

This week Paulie makes an apropos nothing attack against Auburn head coach Gene Chizek.  Let’s check out some of the highlights of Paul’s measured, well reasoned dissertation on the relative merits of Mr. Chizek:

Would someone kindly escort Gene Chizik to the front door, toss him out into the street on his derriere and tell him the Alabama national championship celebration is a private affair?  No party crashers allowed. With the way Auburn’s new football coach is behaving, would anyone really be surprised if he shows up in April at the unveiling of the Nick Saban statue outside Bryant-Denny Stadium and demands one of his own?

Blast that Gene Chizek!  He must have caused great and purposeful affront to deserve this ire.  What did he do this time, Paul?  Proclaim Auburn the one true football program and that he is it’s prophet?  Flying planes over Alabama’s campus dropping propaganda decrying Saban as a pederast?  Or anything whatsoever that has any freaking thing to do with Alabama?

Well, don’t tell Auburn fans, but they are celebrating these days like they have just run the table over the last two regular seasons.

Just so we are clear, Paul clearly predicated this piece as a response to Gene Chizek’s behavior.   At no time after that thesis is any negative behavior by Chizek cited.   All we get is this vague accusation that Auburn has supportive fans.

Apparently this enthusiasm is a result of Auburn’s successful recruiting class, and presumably doing his job of recruiting for Auburn was the terrible deed that Chizek ejaculated on Alabama’s collective face.  Paul then sharply points out that any hubris derived from this would be ill founded:

Perhaps Chizik is smart enough to know there is no way Auburn can ever really beat Alabama on a consistent basis

This is one of my FAVORITE college sports arguments.  You cannot ever be better then us ever because of what our name is.   Is there some kind of inherent structural advantage that Alabama has that makes any Auburn success unsustainable?  As far as I can tell the only truly permanent difference between any schools is the freaking name.   It is perfectly possible that in 50 years Alabama is a hairdressing satellite campus and Auburn has invented proprietary undetectable performance enhancers.    This is the single dumbest goddamn thing I have ever read.

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