Category: Sports

‘i really, REALLY didn’t realize people hated women this much’

One side effect of the NFL’s punt on Ray Rice: the reaction to the reaction sent a torrent of nastiness at women in sports media who spoke out, most notably Sam Ponder and Michelle Beadle. Unfortunately, that’s not new behavior, merely a new reason, but it was enough to grab the attention of some men who previously shrugged it off. The same afternoon that ESPN announced that, despite his apology, Stephen A. Smith would be off the air for a week after suggesting domestic violence is the victim’s responsibility, his colleague Bomani Jones took to Twitter to explain why enough was enough for him:

It’s All Right To Cry

As soon as a teary Kolten Wong was spotted being interviewed in the Cardinals’ clubhouse following his Game 4-ending pick off on first base, you knew what was coming next: endless references to Tom Hanks’ incredulous, near-whiny moment in A League of Their Own:

But I much prefer the sage advice of Rosey Grier, the Los Angles Ram who tackled Robert F. Kennedy’s assassin, when he sang Carol Hall’s lyrics for Marlo Thomas in the groundbreaking Free to Be You and Me …:  

When Grier, who became a minister, sings to the little boys, “I know some big boys who cry, too,” it’s a permit slip.  Hearing — and seeing –Grier sing It’s All Right To Cry was a gender game changer, meant to help boys feel better about emotions and to make girls more comfortable with their own.  Even so, when I played softball on an otherwise all-boy team, it was a matter of pride not to even wince when I was hit by the ball (sometimes intentionally) catching batting practice. (The coach instituted a “laps if  you swear” rule since a girl was on the team; I finally swore, did my lap and the rule disappeared.)

Later as a young reporter at The Atlanta Journal covering my first murder trial, I got teary after a conversation with an editor after a series of long days. I wanted to write another story about it that seemed vitally important at the time; he wanted me to realize the case was over.  A male reporter saw me trying to choke back the tears, put his hand on my shoulder and said, “I cried after  my first one, too.”

His message was in sharp contrast to the senior female editor in another department who’d had to fight and scrape for every bit of respect; for her, crying was anathema — a raised flag that women couldn’t be taken seriously. I learned from both.

We continue to send mixed messages about tears. It’s still noteworthy when a man cries or, as in the case of Hilary Clinton on the campaign trail,  when some women do.  We look down on people who don’t cry at the “right” time and askance at those who cry when we think it’s not  appropriate. Imagine if the U.S. Speaker of the House known for crying was Nancy Pelosi, not her successor John Boehner.

Above all, though, it’s human and when tears come at the height of emotion, it can be cathartic.

How To Hack Google: The Wikipedia World Series Edition

Look up “St. Louis Cardinals” or :”Cardinals” on Google right now and this is what you’ll see:

Wikipedia hack on Google

The description of the “gay butt sex”* Cardinals is an indirect hack of Google display space, made possible by reliance on Wikipedia. Change the Wikipedia entry and you can change the way something is perceived on Google and other sites piping in Wikipedia info.

The vandalized Wikipedia entry is back to “professional baseball team” now but the Google box on the Cardinals, playing the Boston Red Sox in Game 5 of the World Series tonight, has yet to catch/cache up.

* Yes, it is pathetic that this is still used as an insult.

Updated: The vandalized version was still showing on Google 90 minutes after this posted. Now it’s missing — literally. The box on the right has been removed, leaving this view at 6 pm CDT:


For comparison, here’s the Red Sox search result:


10/30/13 Update: Google told Gary Price at Search Engine Land that the problem in the Google Knowledge Graph box was “a technical issue on our end that let outdated information through.” Price is intrigued by how Google’s crawler managed to catch the vandalized Wikipedia entry, which was up only briefly. I’m  still interested in why it was wrong for hours on Google and why it had to go the band aid route by removing the box temporarily. 

NASCAR’s Social Media #FAIL

horrific crash at Daytona Saturday afternoon sent more than a dozen fans to the hospital. The drivers involved walked away — almost unbelievably so in the case of rookie Kyle Larson, who emerged from less than half of his car after the rest went into the fence and the grandstand.  

It also sent a lot of fans to social media with video and stills of the crash and its aftermath; many of them taken as eyewitnesses from the grandstands where the wreckage landed. Tyler Andersen, who describes himself on Twitter as a sophomore at Providence, posted a video that captured the whole sequence, including a tire that spun into nearby seats injuring someone near him and efforts to get assistance. He asked for prayers for the injured man before alerting ESPN to the video.

Andersen’s video quickly ricocheted, recommended to me by disparate parts of my timeline. I watched it once and when I went back to check something minutes later, it was gone.



I don’t know if this was the automated YouTube copyright police at work or if it was taken down because NASCAR or a media rightsholder complained. If it was the former, NASCAR has a sophisticated enough social media operation to know that the video was yanked and should be back up. If it was the latter, NASCAR has a sophisticated enough social media operation to know that rights or no rights, the video wasn’t going away and they might as well avoid the criticism of it.

Instead, news video taken by someone who narrowly missed being injured) was blocked — and as of this writing is still blocked. Meanwhile, Deadspin (of course, it was Deadspin), smartly grabbed a copy of the video and popped it right up

Yes, NASCAR owns the copyright, something spelled out on tickets to races just as it is for many other events.

(There are legal concerns here; I expect all of the video, stills and other records could be evidence in any case emerging from the crash.) And I can understand setting up rules applying it to live streaming or layering in length limits.

I agree with Anthony De Rosa:

And I’m not encouraging any fan to take video or pictures at personal risk or to do it instead of helping those around them if that is possible.

But this dynamic isn’t going away. For instance, at least one other video of this crash is up now (via SBNation


Taking high-quality images and instantly sharing them is only getting easier. If NASCAR wants the boost from social media, as it clearly does given its interaction on Twitter, Facebook and other places, it should go all in.

  • Work with media partners to encourage fans to share video and pictures.
  • Avoid knee jerk reactions and keep an eye out for response to automated takedowns. Narrow the parameters for takedowns.
  • Be as inclusive and as engaged as possible.
  • Give your team the power to respond quickly and make sure a high-level exec is available for quick high-impact decisions, espcially during events.
  • And always remember: you can’t control the internet or social media. You only think you can.

    As for the video of today’s crash, my initial response after the takedown, shared or favorited by dozens, stands: 

    Update: As I was posting this, The Verge published a statement from NASCAR that it took down the video out of respect for those injured.

    Information on the status of those fans was unclear and the decision was made to err on the side of caution with this very serious incident.

    See above.

    Meanwhile, Andersen, whose Twitter feed reflects being overwhelmed by the emotions of the afternoon,


    added this:

    Update 2: And YouTube saves NASCAR from having to reverse its decision by reinstating the video, telling the Washington Post’s Erik Wemple:

    Our partners and users do not have the right to take down videos from YouTube unless they contain content which is copyright infringing, which is why we have reinstated the videos.

    Will NASCAR try the copyright block again using the language on the ticket that claims it owns all rights? I hope not. Will other copyright owners get the message from YouTube that takedowns aren’t an accepted method of trying to control the flow of information? I doubt it.

    I also doubt NASCAR is at risk if losing its YouTube account but the Google video portal lists that as a possible consequence of misusing the power of DCMA:

    If you choose to request removal of content by submitting an infringement notification, please remember that you are initiating a legal process. Do not make false claims. Misuse of this process may result in the suspension of your account or other legal consequences.

    Related: NASCAR Exec Says Crash Video Takedown Was Exception, Not Rule

    ‘Can everything be part of a story?’

    No, it cannot. Sports reveal character, but we can’t truly know if whatever drove an athlete to greatness was nobility or obsession or a hidden reservoir of rage. We can’t truly know what fame does to somebody. We can’t know a person, not really, no matter how many TV interviews or magazine features or newspaper columns they are in.Oscar Pistorius

    Sports, and sportswriting, offers snapshots, glimpses, hints, or façades. Some of it is real, but none of it is ever comprehensive. We think we know, and we don’t, and we have to be reminded of this over and over again, because the lights are bright, and sports can be beautiful, and it causes us to forget, and believe again. Because we want it to be true.”

         — Bruce Arthur on the shattered image of Oscar Pistorius, charged with murdering Reeva Steenkamp. His full column.

    Photo: Some rights reserved by Nick J Webb

    White Sox Win! White Sox Win!

    And it only took 88 years. As a baseball fan, I don’t like to see a sweep but as my father’s daughter couldn’t be happier. Even my mother, the born-and-bred Cubs fan — I come from a mixed marriage — is thrilled. Too, too cool.

    Hullie skates off

    Strange to walk in from dinner and find out via the ESPN scroll that Brett Hull’s stellar career came to an end tonight in Phoenix; like many other NHLers of a certain age who had more hockey in them following 2003-04, the long lockout layoff was too much for the now 41-year-old Hull.  He knew, as did anyone who has followed his career, it would be his last hurrah when he signed on with best friend Wayne Gretzky’s Phoenix Coyotes in August 2004. But who would have guessed it would come to an end after only five games and one assist, that he would retire wearing the sweater of the team he played with for the fewest games?

    This year’s record forms an odd set of bookends with his first year in the NHL back in 1986-87, when he played five games and earned one point (from a goal).  He left for St. Louis during the following season, arriving with 27 goals and 24 assists to his name. Bobby Hull’s son came into his own in St. Louis, developing from a chunky kid with promise and a famous name into a top-flight player, record-breaker and blunt speaker. I  remember sitting a row back from him during a Bruce Springsteen concert at the Arena in his early days here; only a few of us even knew who he was. A year later, the right wing could barely move through the building without causing a ripple of excitement. Eventually, the Arena’s replacement was dubbed the "House That Hull Built." In 1990-91 he scored 86 goals and 45 assists in a mere 78 games. He broke 100 points four years running and with center Adam Oates provided one of the most electric playmaker/goal scorer duos the game has seen. (I’ve often wondered what the records would look like if the tandem hadn’t been cut short by Oates’ career choices.) 

    Only Gretzky and the great Gordy Howe scored more goals in the NHL than Brett Hull, who leaves the game with 741 goals, 650 assists, 1,391 points and 458 penalty minutes in 1,269 games. For trivia buffs, father Bobby ended his career with 610 NHL goals. They are the only father-son with 50 goals in a season, 600-plus goals apiece and, as follows, the highest-scoring father-son tandem. Bobby’s number "9" was retired by the Winnipeg Jets. This season, it was unretired by the team now known as the Phoenix Coyotes so it could be worn by his son.

    Trying to quote Hullie often meant sorting out the words that could be quoted in a family paper from his typical stream of f* laden consciousness but he almost always could be counted on to say something worth printing. He’d look at you with a "do I have to" stare, raise an eyebrow and go, sometimes interviewing himself.  His sense of humor was, is demonic, his flair on the ice unmistakable. His joy in being a father was as much a gift to watch as his game on the ice.  He went on to win his Stanley Cups in other uniforms but the bulk of his goals and the bulk of his playing years were spent here — and we were the luckier for it. Of course, it would have been even better if he’d managed to lead the Blues to the promised land.