If the adage is correct that bad things happen in threes, then the death of top-flight coaches has completed a triad. Don Shula died a couple of weeks ago. Last Friday, Jerry Sloan, who coached the Utah Jazz for 23 seasons and amassed more than 1200 wins in the NBA passed away. I remember Jerry Sloan as a player for the Chicago Bulls in the early 70s; he was a tenacious defender. His Jazz teams with Karl Malone and John Stockton made the pick-and-roll a staple item for NBA offenses that carries on until today.
Rest in peace, Jerry Sloan.
In addition, Eddie Sutton died over the weekend. His career was at the collegiate level where his teams won more than 800 games. He took four different schools to the NCAA tournament and had Oklahoma State and Arkansas teams in the Final Four.
Rest in peace, Eddie Sutton.
Also over the weekend, there were reports that Ryan Leaf was arrested in California and charged with “misdemeanor domestic battery”. I am not sure what the details of the incident are, but he is out on bail and his next court appearance is not until late September. Ryan Leaf has not had an easy road in his life. He was the overall #2 pick in the 1998 NFL Draft – – right behind Peyton Manning – – but his NFL career was marginal to put it as kindly as possible. After the NFL, he has battled drug addiction and various other criminal charges. Recently, he appeared to have gotten his life in order and was hired by ESPN as a college football color analyst. I only heard him do one game, but I thought he had found himself a career niche that would work for him.
I do not intend to prejudge the outcome of these charges, but I cannot conjure up a set of circumstances where any of that advances his career as an on-air talent with ESPN…
Over the past couple of weeks, a lot of attention focused on The Last Dance. Given the dearth of sports options on TV over the last couple of months, I tuned in to Episode 1 and thought it was OK – – but nothing more than that. I watched part of Episode 2 and an even smaller portion of Episode 3 until I admitted to myself that despite the rave reviews the series was getting, I did not particularly like them. I saw nothing beyond the very early part of Episode 3. Obviously, I am not representative of the viewing public and because people watched in great numbers and continue to discuss points made in the series, there are going to be copycat productions. Two such imitations have already been “announced”:
- LeBron James has a TV/movie production company – Uninterrupted – and that company is going to produce a documentary on the Houston Astros sign stealing scandal. I have not seen a production schedule or a target date for this project to be completed, but I can say confidently that I am already tired of it.
- Also in the works is a 9-part documentary on the career – – to date to be sure – – of Tom Brady. I will not care about that one either. However, I will note here before it ever shows up as a viewing option that The Last Dance was a 10-part series and the Brady-documentary is supposed to be only a 9-part series. What’s up with that?
My guess is that we are in the early stages of a new fad in sports programming for television. I think this will continue until the American public cries uncle after someone produces a 5-part series that starts with the working title:
- The Man, The Myth, The Mediocrity – – Joe Flabeetz
The US Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) is another casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic. The postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics caused the USOPC to lay off 51 employees, furlough an additional 33 employees terminate 23 temporary employees and give buyouts to 40 other workers. The USOPC had expected to take in something close to $200M this summer as its share of the TV deal for the Tokyo Games; obviously, that is not happening and that means belt-tightening is the order of the day for the USOPC.
If you add up the numbers of employees “let go”, it comes to 147 folks; according to reports, the USOPC cut its workforce by “roughly 20 percent”. That means the workforce prior to the cuts was around 750 people. I know that USOPC runs training sites for athletes in Lake Placid, Colorado Springs and San Diego and I realize that keeping those sites up and running requires staff. Nonetheless, I wonder why it takes 750 people to deal with games that basically happen once every two years…
Finally, here is an observation from Bob Molinaro in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot:
“Update: Korean baseball broadcasts seemed like an amusing diversion a week or so ago. But in my household, the fad has run its course. Just can’t relate.”
For the record, I watched about 5 innings of one game here in Curmudgeon Central and gave up on it.
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………