A Keith Olbermann Sighting?

In the process of doing my “catching-up reading”, I ran across a report in the NY Post saying that Keith Olbermann would be substituting for Michael Wilbon on PTI for two shows at the beginning of march.  Sadly, I did not get to see those episodes; if anyone here did see them, I would be interested to know how they went.

Olbermann and Kornheiser are two broadcasters that I like a lot; they are both intelligent, opinionated, sarcastic and candid.  Because they are so similar, I wonder if they could “co-exist” on a program together.

Keith Olbermann’s political commentaries are extraordinarily polarizing – in large part because he is intelligent, opinionated, sarcastic and candid – and there is no denying that when Olbermann departs for a job he does more than burn bridges behind him.  Nevertheless, I think he is an extraordinary talent and sports TV networks like ESPN or FS1 are better off when he is on the air as opposed to when he is off the air.  I hope that his brief stint on PTI went well enough that it represents a first step on a journey that has him returning to ESPN somehow and in some capacity.

It seems as if NBA Commish, Adam Silver, is thinking about getting rid of the rule that requires a player to be 19 years old and/or 1 year removed from his high school graduation in order to be an NBA player.  If that is the case, that would go a long way toward ending the “one-and-done” players in college basketball.  While John Calipari and Mike Krzyzewski might have to alter their recruiting focus a bit, lessening the “one-and-done” population in college basketball is a step in the right direction.  Let me be candid here:

  • There are too many “student-athletes” in college today who are doing a bad job even at pretending to be “students”.
  • They are uninterested at best – and completely unprepared at worst – to derive even marginal benefit from a college level course in anything.
  • They have come to believe – rightly or wrongly – that they are going to make pro basketball their career/life’s work and “the system” forces them to spend a year after high school treading water until their glorious entrance into the NBA.
  • There is little or no hand-holding or ego-massaging in the NBA for young players who are not actually ready to play there.  The NBA is a meritocracy; if the player has over-estimated his skills, the league will be sure that he knows that he is incapable of doing this as his life’s work for more than a brief time.

All the other major sports have paths to professionalism that are better than the one the NBA uses.  Personally, I like the MLB system the best:

  • A player can be drafted straight out of high school and if he wants to sign with the team that drafted him that is hunky-dory.  He forfeits his college eligibility by doing that, but he is on his way to his career goal(s).
  • That same player can choose not to sign with the team that drafted him and choose instead to go to college and play baseball there to hone his skills – – and possibly derive some benefits from collegiate level education.  The reason he may derive educational benefits is that this option will require him to stay in college for 3 years before he can be drafted again.
  • This system works.  Moreover, the MLB system is a quick introduction for the prospect to one of the important life lessons that most high school students never face.  Once a person turns 18, he is legally an adult; adult life involves making lots of choices and choices involve consequences.  This MLB draft system presents the 18-year old prospect with a choice to make with clear and obvious consequences.  It is a good life lesson.

Juxtaposed with the news that Adam Silver might be seeking ways to minimize the “one-and-done” situation in college basketball, we have this commentary by Memphis head coach, Tubby Smith:

“I’ve been in this business a long time, never seen anything like it. We had over 800 Division I players transfer last year. We’re teaching them how to quit. That’s what we’re doing. Things not going well, let’s quit.”

Tubby Smith has a point here; he is much closer to being right than his is to being wrong.  Nonetheless, college coaches are precisely not the people to make that point.  Here are two obvious reasons why they are not the right messengers:

  1. There is an obvious self-interest here on the part of a coach who has recruited a player and then a year later has to go and recruit the player’s replacement because the player is transferring to Whatsamatta U.
  2. College coaches – particularly in football and basketball – do the equivalent of transferring when they leave a job at Disco Tech in order to take a more lucrative/prestigious job at Fugue State.  In fact, Tubby Smith himself did just that leaving Texas Tech to take his current job at Memphis in 2016.

Finally, consider this comment from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times:

“The Cavaliers suspended guard J.R. Smith for one game because he reportedly threw a bowl of soup at assistant coach Damon Jones.

“Guess you could say he made himself bowl-ineligible.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………