Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Under-reported sports stories of 2005?

Scoop Jackson of ESPN.com's Page 2 makes some interesting observations about the under-reported sports and sports-related stories of 2005. He lists a top 10, but the ones that stood out for me were these:

(1) Stephen A. Smith's Quite Frankly show debut meant that a black sports reporter would be fronting a sports talk show that is about HIS take on sports, on his own, on a major cable or TV network; Jackson notes that unlike Bryant Gumbel (establishment), Michael Wilbon (co-host) and other black hosts have had to meet the expectations of someone else, thus: "The fact that Stephen A. was given the format to do him -- to be himself, unscripted, unapologetic, unleashed -- was historical in the landscape of broadcast television."

(2) The missing White Sox SI cover. The White Sox have to be the lowest profile, lowest Q-rated sports franchise in a major United States city. I don't subscribe to SI anymore (and haven't for years) but this is a real low for the magazine. SI's stated justification for not putting the Palehose on a cover was that their World Series sweep of the Astros finished on a Wednesday, and SI is printed for distribution on Thursday/Friday. Big deal. In 1998, 1999, 2004, the World Series champ swept the loser, and each of those Series ended on a Wednesday too (The Monk should know about 1999, he was at the Stadium with Wongdoer when the Pinstripers thwacked the Braves), and the Yankees, Yankees and RedSax each received SI cover billing. In addition, the way Ozzie Guillen molded and manipulated his team through its regular season and its postseason run is worthy of cover billing. Why the omission? One big reason: SI is Chicago-based and its Chicago editors are known throughout the industry as Cub partisans (this does not apply to Verducci). Bad move: the Sox won the WORLD SERIES, the biggest event of October; they should not have been treated like a Stanley Cup winner.

(3) KG/Oprah and the Hurricane. Here's what Kevin Garnett did: he wrote to Oprah and said he would personally donate the cost of construction of one house every month for two years to her Angel Network. In other words, he would pay for 24 houses in the areas that Katrina wiped out. I didn't know about this. I would like to have known because I would have praised KG in these pages. Jackson's take is certainly justified:
A gesture that should have landed him on the cover of Time alongside Bill and Melinda Gates and Bono as Persons of The Year. A gesture that made Oprah -- read it again, Oprah -- break down [in tears].

* * *
In an era when it is too often publicly asked: "Where are our kids' role models?"; in a society that is starved for areas of positiveness to come from our professional athletes; in a world where we have been conditioned to believe that every one of these young superstars is unappreciative, ungrateful, undeserving and a void soul, a situation arose that could have shifted the entire perception of their existence. What Kevin Garnett did was just that big.


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