Thursday, February 28, 2008

SmartSports: 2/28/08

Welcome to SmartSports, a new feature to highlight intelligent, out-of-the-box thinking in sports. Please send me the smart sports articles you find, and I'll include them in next week's SmartSports links.

Mainstream Links:

Tom Friend gives the detailed story of Tony Gwynn Jr's hit that helped force the Padres into that play-off with the Rockies.

NBA perception issues still limit the league from taking advantage of its current crop of marketable superstars.

A look back at what happens to Internet social networks when they are no longer cool. Bloggers should take a lesson from this before they start believing that sports blogs are here to stay.

Blogger Links:
Stephanie is an undervalued sports blogger who more people should know about. Here she uses her legal training to explain why Matt Walsh won't tell all the details of SpyGate yet.

Juiced Sports Blog is trying blogger forums. There's still a market for a blogger hangout that hasn't yet been filled. Perhaps this is the answer? It's still a thoughtful idea.

Just to shake up your opinion on what belongs on this list, here's a Kissing Suzy Kolber post that displays original thinking and makes a smart point. I know, you're thinking "But I thought KSK was all about comedy." They are, but this post idea was particularly inspired. They realized too many bloggers sit around praising each other and ripping the mainstream instead of taking a look in the mirror, and made a great post about it. Although I'm kind of disappointed no one mentioned this blog--quick, someone go rip on me for being a pretentious goodie-two-shoes, ok?

Tech Tools for Bloggers:
If you're interested in starting a blog, don't just consider and; take a look at

Flawed Blog:
Each week I'll be correcting a blog post that showed flawed logic or bias without acknowledging it. I'm tired of us going after mainstream media while giving our own blogger-folk massive passes. I'm a wuss unless I go after my betters, and this time my target is the usually thoughtful MJD on the Kelvin Sampson scandal. I like MJD's writings, and his NFL Smorgasboard makes me LOL on each paragraph. But MJD wrote a prescriptive sports column, which in itself is somewhat of a mistake. Any time a sports columnist starts telling players and coaches what they should do, that sports columnist runs the risk of being too judgmental or coming across as arrogant. I did feel MJD was too judgmental of those Indiana players (but not arrogant), and here's why.

First, those players did not sign up to play for Indiana; they signed up to play for Kelvin Sampson. Those players could have gone to 50 other colleges in the country. They chose Indiana because they liked and trusted Sampson. So MJD's point that Kelvin should tell the players they signed up for Indiana first, although perhaps true in letter, is false in spirit.

Second, tell me how many coaches with a W-L record 18 games over .500 get fired in mid-season in college basketball history--or even tell me how many coaches get fired in mid-season, period. This isn't an every day event! He got fired for essentially being too social with the players, too enthusiastic about calling them. How can they not miss such a coach? Kelvin's firing is not business as usual in college basketball. Thus asking the players to immediately conform to normal standards as if the firing was normal isn't fair.

Third, the players met and asked that McCallum be made head coach; instead, Dakich was put in charge. So the players' least favorite coach is now in charge; how could they not be somewhat upset? They have every right to quit the team if they want to; they're not slaves. Sure, they may have to lose their scholarship as a penalty for their free speech option, but they have every right to express themselves. MJD claiming that their action was the result of immaturity and telling them to grow up was unfair. I think the young men may also be showing maturity in being willing to risk their future careers for a coach they loved and respected. I'm sure DJ White knows the NBA is watching, right? And it's clear from the after story that Dakich and the D.J. White Six found a compromise after a few days. Of course, MJD didn't have time to write that update; how could he, when exciting topics like the Montana Tech Orediggers are just begging for a post?

Finally, let's put ourselves in the Indiana players' shoes for a moment, shall we? Let's start with a hypothetical story. Let's say that, just as what happened at Indiana, the original boss who hired you at a company is leaving. Oh, let's give him a "Mottram", just for the story's sake. Now let's suppose that you had the opportunity to stay with the company that hired you and a new boss. Let's call them "Fanhouse" and "Ness", respectively, just to give it a name and add flavor to the story. According to your article's logic, you should stay with your company, not with your boss. After all, your checks are signed by "Fanhouse", not "Mottram", right? And you wouldn't want to walk out on your blogger colleagues; they're your teammates, right?

Or...let's say hypothetical you could follow your old boss "Mottram" to a new place once you give Fanhouse the required days of notice and non-compete clauses no longer apply. Let's call "Mottram's" new place "Yahoo! Sports Blog", shall we? There, you could write columns in which you admonish college students for daring to miss a fired coach with a record of 22-4 who was like a father figure to them (see Gordon quote). There, no one would point out to you the irony in your judging the Indiana players situations given your own choice. What would you choose?

I want to make it clear that MJD didn't do anything wrong or unethical by going to Yahoo! in that not-so-hypothetical story. But I wish MJD realized that the players weren't in the wrong, either, for initially preferring their old boss; after all, he apparently has done much the same in his own work career. It's never pretty when bloggers rush to judgment without keeping an open mind, and for that MJD earns the Flawed Blog honor. (MJD, should you somehow come across this, feel free to comment should you so choose. I respect your writings, just think you had an off day.)


  1. Dammit, MCBias, you made me sign up for something online so I could finally start commenting here. I am behind you on this fellows view of the Sampson ordeal. The kids did nothing wrong. I saw into Gordon's eyes from about 2 feet away that day, and he was hurting. There is no doubt. He looked like someone had just punched him in the belt buckle. But that whole thing is such a filthy mess. I am getting to the point, as someone who has had to deal with it on a tertiary basis since fricking November, where i am exhausted at the everything as opposed to being mad at anyone. I am not even sure if Greenspan should go or not, and I used to be holding the whip on that bandwagon.

  2. Thanks for the comments on my post. I appreciate it when someone disagrees without getting nasty about it.

    But I still think I was right. Obviously, DJ White and everyone else had a right to be upset, sure. But being upset and blowing off your coach's practice are two different things. What did they want Indiana to do, jeopardize even harsher sanctions from the NCAA, just because they're friendly with the coach?

    They had teammates that they left hanging, because of their own personal feelings. It's just the basic premise that a player listens to his coach, whoever that coach may be, and does not quit on his teammates. Some players acted that way, some players didn't.

    You're probably right that I should've pointed out that they did agree to come back to the team. I expected that they'd come to their senses and do just that, and they did. Why do you think they returned to the team? Might it be because they realized it was wrong to quit on their teammates?

    As for the comparison to my situation ... I don't think that's valid it all. Without getting into details, a scholarship is very different than the arrangement I had with AOL.

    Again, thanks ... have a good one.

  3. And thanks to you, MJD, for being a good sport about this. When I first had the idea for the column, I realized it would have no relevance if I just sat around and made fun of ""'s blog for poor spelling. That means I have to lecture my writing superiors, unfortunately. But hopefully they'll take it as well as you did and realize it's nothing personal. Best of luck at Yahoo!.

  4. Ha, it's about time you showed up, BP! This makes my day, it's good to have some comments from you. I didn't realize before that you couldn't sign in. Cool.