Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Sunday, February 19, 2021

It’s nice that ESPN has retained former Washington Post sports editor George Solomon as ombudsman.

But if his criticisms are never heeded, what good is he?

Solomon’s criticisms have not reversed any decisions or changed policies, [ESPN news director and senior VP Vince] Doria said.

“I’m a stubborn person,” he said. “I don’t think he’s changed my mind on anything. It’s the kind of thing where you see it and you may not change your mind, but you might think about it again somewhere down the line.”

Doria disagreed with Solomon’s disapproval of [Kenny] Mayne’s attempt to become a dancing star. Solomon said that anyone who works on ESPN news shows or covers events should avoid celebrity competitions or commercial endorsements.

Doria said he considered Mayne, who contributes comedic segments, an entertainer. He might resist if a show like Dancing With the Stars sought Sportscenter host Dan Patrick, he said.

Granted, it’s not Solomon’s job to effect change. He’s been doing what an ombudsman typically does. It’s up to the brass to do something, if anything, with the feedback. That’s not likely to happen: ESPN routinely functions as a marketing arm for Disney’s other entertainment properties, and generates a lot of cash as a result. Complaints about that are going to be ashcanned, public objections aside.

As far as I can see, Solomon’s role is nothing more than preemptive damage control. By allowing an in-house rogue opinion, there’s the illusion of checks and balances for ESPN/Disney’s melding of editorial and corporate policy. That Solomon is delivering his critiques under ESPN’s sanction makes it seem like it has extra weight.

In reality, it has little to none. If his advice isn’t going to be acted upon (in a substantive way — relaying viewers’ complaints about Brokeback Mountain jokes to one of the third-string announcers is fairly lightweight), Solomon’s not much more than a straw man.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 02/19/2006 11:20 PM
Category: Media, Sports
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Francis Fukuyama is hardly the first author to have his concepts co-opted by unexpected circles. Still, despite his earlier disassociation with the neocons, I have to believe that his latest repudiation of the movement is as harsh as he can make it:

“The End of History,” in other words, presented a kind of Marxist argument for the existence of a long-term process of social evolution, but one that terminates in liberal democracy rather than communism. In the formulation of the scholar Ken Jowitt, the neoconservative position articulated by people like [William] Kristol and [Robert] Kagan was, by contrast, Leninist; they believed that history can be pushed along with the right application of power and will. Leninism was a tragedy in its Bolshevik version, and it has returned as farce when practiced by the United States. Neoconservatism, as both a political symbol and a body of thought, has evolved into something I can no longer support.

Regardless of the relative ideological neutrality of Leninism (its methods can be applied independently of economic system, as the Nazis and scores of other far-right regimes demonstrated), presenting a comparison with communism is enough to make the likes of Kristol and Kagan see, er, red. Even couched in Fukuyama’s clinic analysis, I’d say the gloves are fully off.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 02/19/2006 10:29 PM
Category: Political Theory
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not miller time
With his performance in Turin devolving into John Daly-esque sideshow farce, I’m going to declare Bode Miller to be the Olympic equivalent of NFL running back Ricky Williams.

This anecdote says it all:

At lunch in Manhattan a month later, Miller insisted he was serious about his potential Olympic boycott.

“Everyone wants to be rich and famous, but most don’t like it when they get it,” Miller said. “And I’m one of those people. The rich part is O.K., but the famous I can do without.”

In other words, he’ll take the money, but he doesn’t feel like performing up to it. Say what you will about the Terrell Owenses of the world, but at least they show up for work.

Asked if he would not be calling more attention to himself by staying away from the Olympics, Miller paused to sign an autograph for a waiter, then answered: “I could fade away. No problem.”

Three days later, he signed a two-year endorsement deal with Nike. Among other things, the company agreed to set up a Web site, joinbode.com, that contained Miller’s pontifications on things like the excesses of youth sports and his distrust of authority.

Miller then spent the summer, by his own admission, playing golf and drinking beer. He worked out — he has a self-designed regimen that includes pushing an old one-ton paving vehicle up the hills near his home in Franconia, N.H. — but it is not clear how often. Miller kept reporters at arm’s length for months, then showed up for the opening of the World Cup circuit overweight by about 10 pounds at 222.

It’s not often that I feel sorry for mega-corporations, but my sympathies are with Nike and NBC. They were both pretty much forced to rely upon Miller, a capricious brat, to be their marketable poster boy for Team USA. They bet on a losing horse, and are both suffering (especially NBC, whose broadcasts surprisingly are getting trounced by “American Idol” and the like) as a result.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 02/19/2006 05:30 PM
Category: Other Sports
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While it’s directed specifically toward Pat Robertson’s wacko pronouncements, this assessment of their effectiveness applies equally well to many a modern-day phantom menace:

On the other hand, Brian Britt, director of the Religious Studies Program at Virginia Tech, said Robertson’s remarks aren’t just “off-the-wall, crazy uncle stuff” but part of a strategy that earns him headlines.

When people attack Robertson, he wins sympathy for appearing to be an underdog, Britt said.

“It reinforces an image of Christianity as a persecuted religion, a religion that is being hounded by the secularists out of the public square, rather than a dominant and hegemonic force,” Britt said.

A classic forest-for-the-trees mindset. In other words, if you’re white, and even casually a Christian, you’ve managed to convince yourself that you’re under assault and disenfranchised, despite being among the rulemakers. This goes just as much for white supremacist wackos as it does for all those idiots who fret over that “Happy Holidays/War on Christmas” claptrap — really no distinction.

Ironically, these same folks are the ones who’ll decry the culture of victimhood long and loud — when they’re not the ones using it.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 02/19/2006 04:57 PM
Category: Society
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what the gunther
I’m watching today’s Czech Republic-Italy men’s hockey game, live from Turin/Torino. I notice that Team Italia is playing their backup goalie, one Gunther Hell.

It ain’t gonna happen in these Olympics, but wouldn’t it be great to see a gold-medal final between Italy and Slovakia, whose team includes NHL winger Miroslav Satan? Imagine the quasi-Biblical play-calling:

“Satan beats Hell for the goal!”

“Hell stones Satan!”

And so on.

No word on if Gunther is related to punk legend Richard Hell.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 02/19/2006 02:48 PM
Category: Comedy, Hockey, Pop Culture
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