On Jason Whitlock

Chait was saying that the members of Team A—faced with referees who are knowingly, purposely cheating them out of a fair shot to succeed, and in this case for something as arbitrary and as capricious as the idea of race—should play on valiantly. Instead of despairing, or refusing to play altogether, Team A's players should keep their heads down, work hard, and play by a set of rules designed specifically to deny their team victory, hoping that a player or two will manage to fluke a double-double. Chait was underestimating and, more importantly, discounting the sheer amount of rage that Team A would experience every day and would have every right to experience. He was telling Team A's players to just get on with this sham, to ignore how fucked they are, how it's in the officials' interest to keep fucking them, and how this is why Team A will remain fucked as long as it agrees to play this game. In the face of blatant injustice, he was telling Team A to pretend it didn't exist.

On Jason Whitlock and black journalism, Deadspin.com

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Will there be a World Cup?

Hospitals and schools are falling down while stadiums are rising up. The government in Rio tried to demolish one of the best elementary schools in the country to make room for a parking lot near the Maracanã Stadium, where the World Cup final will be played.

Generation June, ESPN.com


The snafu that was the coverage of the Iginla trade

I've always been interested in the process of reporting, at times more interested in that then in actually doing reporting myself. Of particular interest has been "breaking news" and the balance between being first and being right. In fact, I've already written about that once in the context of the trade deadline with media outlets competing for each other when breaking trades. That post can be found here.

And because there's no real lesson here and nothing can change, we're at it again with the Iginla trade. A healthy scratch for Wednesdays game, Iginla was originally reported as heading to Boston as originally broke by Aaron Ward from TSN. Many others later jumped on this train, but when the dust finally settled, Iginla was actually dealt to Pittsburgh.

Now smarter people then me can analyze the goods and the bads of the deal itself, and if Pittsburgh wins the Cup or if this signals a rebuild for Calgary or whatever. But how the deal was reported has caught my eye, because it appears to be, once again, that battle between being first and being right.

Someone at TSN, at some point in time, made the choice to run with Ward's report. It made sense, because Ward used to play for Boston and presumably still has connections in the organization, in addition to the other connections he would have around the league.

Just before Ward's report, TSN's Bob McKenzie was reporting that Iginla to Boston wasn't done, while playing an interesting game of wordplay that invites people to read between the lines. He talked about things like: does "not done" actually mean "not done" or does it mean "not done yet", while also bringing up the "wouldn't it be funny if Bouwmeester was dealt", which sometimes (not always) means that a deal like that might be closer but he can't confirm it.

In any case, McKenzie began toeing the company line shortly after the Ward report (this isn't a shot at McKenzie, because as he mentions in his own email from last year, these things are normally done by working as a team, so let's assume Ward's report didn't just occur in a bubble), but their colleague with RDS, Renaud Lavoie did not and as reports continued to filter out, he stood firm that he was getting information that there was no deal happening tonight. Lavoie really shone during the CBA negotiations in the fall, proving that he was not only first a lot of the time, but also (more importantly) right.

I originally wanted to put together a timeline of how this all went down, but some of the tweets from the night have been removed to prevent confusion (or maybe to cut back on embarrassment).

In any case, the decision was made to run with the story. I have to wonder if the fact that both Boston and Calgary were on TSN played anything to do with that decision. I have to wonder if the deal was done between Boston and Calgary and then Iginla nixed it.

Last fall, I went to a symposium at the University of King's College here in Halifax about journalism and new media. I got the opportunity to ask the question about that battle of first versus right. The immediacy of coverage and the competition.

The answer given was that you need to establish a proper process and standards to verify the source and verify the story and then as you work within those standards, speed will come.

So equally as frustrating as Ward's report going to market is that a number of other media or media-pretenders/hangers-on ran with that story without having their own rules to verify the story (or ignoring those rules). A lot more reporters should have independently verified this, instead of blindly repeating.

Unfortunately we won't learn, because it's a marketplace and a business. TSN makes a big deal off their trade deadline coverage because they get viewers. They compete with other providers to break news and fight for an ever larger viewer-share, to sell advertising and so on. The viewers demand that everything is delivered immediately and will quickly flock to who is quickest, as opposed to who is most accurate.

Sure, we can harp on the snafu by TSN and how they should be more accurate, but we need to understand that they are simply playing the game that we demanded of them.


Advanced stats in basketball and the new direction of sports writing

Another great article that isn't directly correlating with hockey, but still really interested me.

This feature on Grantland's Zach Lowe:

I work a lot as anyone in the NBA does, as anyone in sports does. I always tell people I have one of those jobs that sounds amazing when you go to parties, and you do, but anyone that covers sports knows there's sort of a de facto "it happens at night and on the weekends when other people are resting" deal. Though I guess every industry is a 24/7 industry.

That article led me to this article about John Hollinger's predictions on the Raptors' season. Hollinger predicted that the Raptors would finish 12th overall with a .402 winning percentage (33-49). Right now at the 50 game mark, the Raptors are 11th overall with a .360 winning percentage (18-32).

Interesting stuff.


Match-Fixing in Soccer

You can still have sports if players are cheating. You can still have sports if fans are fighting in the parking lot. Those are problems, big problems, but they can be addressed without threatening the basic concept of the game. When the outcomes of matches are being dictated from the outside, though? You no longer have a game at that point. You have something else, a weird simulacrum, pro wrestling without the feather boas. (And, almost as crucially, without the fun.) The essential idea of athletic competition — let's both show up and try to win — is no longer operating. This is why the Black Sox scandal is still the biggest in the history of American sports, and it's also why the NFL, the NBA, MLB, the NHL, and the NCAA are all currently suing to stop New Jersey from legalizing sports betting.

Match-Fixing in Soccer by Brian Phillips, Grantland.com

Great article. I really love the point about how we turn to sports to combat the unfairness in life, because sport is fair and the rules are defined.