Sports, Television And Money

This week will see the start of the MLB Playoffs and it will see the start of the NBA Finals.  Am I the only one who thinks there has been minimal energy or pizzaz associated with this year’s NBA Playoffs to date?  The Nuggets/Jazz series was interesting and produced there or four very good games but most of the rest of the games and series have been marginally better than “ordinary”.  What brings this to mind this morning is a headline on a report at

“Allen Iverson says he regrets not having a better relationship with Kobe Bryant: ‘Killers respect killers’”

Seriously?  The NBA Finals are about to start, and that report makes it onto the front page of today?  There is nothing more interesting happening related to professional basketball?  [NOTE:  I did not say “more important”; I said “more interesting” thereby setting a much lower bar.]

Kobe Bryant died in a tragic accident with his young daughter eight months ago.  One might concoct some linkages between Iverson and Bryant:

  • Bryant is from the Philly area and Iverson played most of his career in Philly.
  • Bryant and Iverson were in the same NBA Draft Class.
  • Bryant and Iverson are both in the Hall of Fame.

A feature story of that kind might have been interesting – not important, mind you – a week or so after the helicopter crash that killed Bryant and his daughter.  Eight months later … it does not even merit a hearty “Meh!”

Bob Molinaro had a succinct reaction to the elimination of the Clippers from these NBA Playoffs in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot:

Oversell: Anyone who watches sports knows that TV talkers throw around superlatives like confetti at a gender-reveal party. After the Clippers’ surprising elimination, a noted NBA insider said that Paul George failed to play like a superstar. That’s because he’s not now nor has ever been a superstar.”

Preach on, brother…

As I mentioned above, the MLB Playoffs will begin tomorrow, and the Miami Marlins are in the mix.  In the first round of the expanded 2020 playoffs, the Marlins will play a 3-game series in Chicago against the Cubs.  In order to keep the schedule compressed and to avoid some travel, the first round series will be played exclusively in the home park of the higher seeded team.  The Marlins have not been part of the playoff picture since 2003 and last season, the Marlins’ record was 57-105.  Nevertheless, they are in the playoffs this year.

Speaking of MLB, the NY Post reports that Warner Media – the owner of Turner sports – has signed a deal with MLB that extends MLB’s presence on TBS for seven more years through 2028.  The full package will bring $535M per year in revenue to MLB.  In future years, TBS will be the major broadcaster of playoff games in terms of number of games although the World Series will still be part of the FOX package.  This deal comes a year ahead of the expiration of the current Warner Media/MLB deal which is interesting because the ESPN/MLB broadcast rights deal is set to expire this year and I have not seen any reports on negotiations there.

The new Warner Media/MLB deal will include a nationally televised Tuesday night game next year and a new studio show on TBS featuring Ernie Johnson, Curtis Granderson, Jimmy Rollins and Pedro Martinez.  I have heard from all four of those men in baseball commentary situations and all four of them are insightful and entertaining.  Unless a situation develops where two or more of them develop a blood feud off camera, I would suspect that program will be worthwhile viewing.

Meanwhile, there are other reports about an extension/renewal of a TV contract that I am far less enthusiastic about.  Last week, reports surfaced that FOX Sports was about to sign Skip Bayless for a reported “small raise” over his current $6M per year salary.  Bayless teams with Shannon Sharpe on FS1 in a concocted debate show format called Undisputed.  The program name is ironic in the sense that Bayless and Sharpe never agree on anything including:

  1. The day of the week
  2. The compass point at which the sun sets – – and/or – –
  3. Who put the ram in the ram-a-lam-a-ding-dong.

This sarcasm is not directed at Skip Bayless individually or at Undisputed specifically; I do not like any of those faux debate program formats such as  Speak for Yourself (FS1), and First Take (ESPN).  It does not take me long to tire of listening to two people who cannot or will not agree with each other about anything.  If I found that sort of thing interesting, I would plop myself down in the gallery of the US Senate every day and listen to the august members of that organization speak past one another.

About 60 years ago, then FCC Commissioner, Newton Minnow told an audience of broadcast execs that television programming was a “vast wasteland”.  I shudder to think what he might say about sports programming on TV in 2020 were he still a sentient being exchanging oxygen in the biosphere…

Finally, Dr. Harry Edwards is a noted sociologist who has spent a long time as an observer and a critic of sports as they impact Black athletes’ lives.  Over the weekend, I ran across a Tweet from him related to the decision by the PAC-12 schools to reverse course and play football this Fall:

“For PAC12 programs to use ‘our student-athletes want to play’ as a PRINCIPAL reason for restarting football/fall sports programs while soft-peddling COVID risks to athletes, denying MONEY considerations significantly driving this decision is disingenuous , delusional,& dangerous.”

Preach on, brother…

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