Friday, March 7, 2008

SmartSports 03/05/08

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:
One woman's attempt to make it to the Olympics in switching her citizenship.

I apologize for a bit of bias, but I included the follow-up to the Sarah Pavan story:
The stories have elicited a flood of feedback aimed at all involved, both positive and negative. Traffic on Web sites featuring the articles has increased. New York Times columnist William Rhoden even inquired about the issue.
Yes! (pumps fist) That's exactly what I hoped would happen when I funneled the story to The Big Lead--people like William Rhoden would make calls. I'm not going to pretend I broke the story nationally or anything, but being a part of this makes me smile.

An absolutely gorgeous interactive media production in Play magazine where Jeff Gundy describes the defenses used to contain the likes of Steve, Kobe, Lebron, and Yao.

Blogstream Links:
I know, I know, I already pumped them on Monday, but Garbage Time All Stars has a great Yao Ming cartoon up that makes an excellent point about Internet discourse. Spewing unmitigated hate, even about famous people, can hurt people's feelings. (Mitigated hate, on the other hand, is more than welcome.).

This isn't really a blog, but if you haven't seen the Remember the ABA site, you are missing out!

Stop Mike Lupica talks about blog feuds--educational. Now that bloggers can occasionally expect to get paid, expect blogging feuds to increase.

I want to take a moment to deviate from the script and remember StillaJew. He's a Yaysports reader who passed away in a car accident--and he was only in college. I hope he's found peace and paradise in the afterlife.

Tech Tips:
Hit up It allows you to create your own search engine to search up to 25 sites of your choice. Good way to figure out what the sports blog movers-and-shakers are saying on any given topic.

Flawed Blog:

I must be one surly boy this week, because I had five blogs in my crosshairs this week for different reasons. However, I have a sad confession to make. I'm going to have to remove this section from the smartsports posts temporarily. There are two ways to improve the level of sports blog discourse--feature thoughtful writers, and go after those writers who are not thinking. I originally wanted to do both.

However, I wanted to go after only writers who were good or well-known in this section--I didn't think it was fair to attack those writers who would not change anyway or were ignorant. But by criticizing good writers, now I'm making them look bad, and not helping raise the level of discourse. Plus, I'm concerned that people will take this as me trying to bring down better writers in some sort of jealous basement couch-gnawing rage. So I'm not going to mention specific writers' posts unless the offense is egregious, and instead going to make a comment about my own thoughts.

When inequities in coverage or praise exist, it's easy to go after the one receiving unfair honor or benefit. For example, when most blogs praised Charles Barkley for pointing out that Christians are hypocritical and judgmental, I wanted to go after Charles at first. I felt that had he attacked any other group, he would have been sternly reprimanded, maybe even fired.

However, a better way may be to instead use that injustice to argue for more equality. If Charles is allowed to go after Christians on their weak points, than I should feel free to criticize, say, rich athletes who don't give back to the community in similar terms. So instead of making it look like I hate Charles and attacking the person, I use him to gain an opportunity to expand my own free speech rights. And he becomes proof that one should be free to criticize a group based on its actions, as long as one doesn't stray into criticizing such a group for its existence or unchangeable characteristics.

Or, take how Brett Favre is glorified as a great quarterback when his resume reads like that of the typical black QB experience (great athlete who didn't throw much as a QB in high school, almost converted to a DB in college, and then seen as an athletic freak in Atlanta rather than true QB, among other points). That glorification can be used to argue that when the next freakishly athletic yet unpolished black QB comes along, he deserves the longer leash and the praise that Brett received. After all, take away Brett's picture, and you would think we were talking about, say, Kordell Stewart or Randall Cunningham. That may be an overstatement, but you get the idea. (Seriously, go over to Wikipedia and read his entry; he fits several of the traditional biases associated with black QB's.)

I certainly will argue against blatant inequity when I see it, especially when it disagrees with my biases (being honest). But the ways in which we can argue against injustice are numerous. Personally speaking, I shall try to add new weapons to my arsenal.

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