Two shorter offerings from the past two weeks…
One was an analogy between Atlanta and Paris as sports cities, based on the fact that both are full of transplants:
Like Paris, Atlanta can be described as a city where a good portion of the populace comes from elsewhere, seeking better social and economic opportunities. Also like Paris, Atlanta sports fans are more attracted to the spectacle that the local teams can sometimes provide than we are creatures of habit, going to games because that's what they have always done. When the Braves came out of nowhere to contend in 1991, Fulton County Stadium was home to the spectacle, especially with the Tomahawk Chop being new and exciting. When Mike Vick hit the scene, the Georgia Dome was home to the spectacle, as Vick was the most exciting player that most of us had ever seen. To a lesser extent, the Hawks had the same attraction when Dominique was in his prime. For a hot minute, the Thrashers provided a spectacle when Heatley and Kovalchuk were electric. In short, we need a reason to go.
Naturally, it ended with a shot at Bill Simmons for making excuses on behalf of Pats fans that he would never make for Atlanta or other sports markets in the Sunbelt. Speaking of Simmons, I strongly recommend the piece from the Classical about PSG. It cites Simmons’ podcast with the CEO of Ticketmaster regarding the steps that American sports teams are taking to attract casual fans by making the gameday experience as personal as possible. Of course, it also attacks Simmons for taking a very 1% view of the sports experience, but in this respect, I think that the author underestimates the ubiquity of flat-screen TVs. Generally speaking, if you can get past the Nader-ite tangents (I especially love the fact that the whole piece is built around a defense of fan culture at PSG, when one of the two galaxies of fan associations – the Virage Boulogne – is a right-wing, all-white, sometimes ractis entity), it’s a fascinating look at the changes at PSG, ostensibly to deal with fan disputes. There are some very interesting political parallels along the lines of “what do we sacrifice when we place security uber alles?” I almost linked the piece again when I was writing about SEC scheduling, as there is a parallel to be made in terms of the management of sports teams viewing consumers as nothing more than walking wallets who will always support their teams, regardless of how poorly the fans are treated.
The second piece was a complaint about sports talk radio that will sound very familiar to those of you who have been reading this blog for a while. The gripe, as usual, was reducing sports discussion to etiquette:
The discussion on 680 was mostly about the Super Bowl, but there was some attempt to discuss recruiting, namely the fact that the same teams are on top of the recruiting rankings every year. The discussion wasn't especially interesting, but at least the effort was there. The discussion on 790 was whether it is appropriate for high school stars to announce their college decisions in press conferences.
This is exactly what drives me crazy about sports talk radio in general and Mayhem in the AM specifically: the devolution of sports discussion to simplistic moral judgments. This discussion yesterday was about athletes being jerks when they (or their entourages) don't tip appropriately. The discussion this morning was another foray into the world of deciding what behavior is acceptable for athletes. My commute is generally about 20 minutes; I don't need to spend it listening to three middle-aged guys doing a bad imitation of Judith Martin. Any idiot can judge someone else's behavior. Before my commute was half done, I had started listening to The Solid Verbal podcast after muttering to myself "what the hell took me so long?" Oddly enough, the discussion was about actual topics relating to recruiting.
My tolerance for sports talk radio waxes and wanes. During football season, I listen because there is some coverage of the games that interest me. Later in the season, it was enjoyable listening to Steak Shapiro overrate the Falcons yet again. (Listening to him discuss the Falcons is like surveying the emotions of a small boy during movie previews.) With football done, I am less likely to listen because the local shows are going to put even more emphasis of schtick.