March 29, 2010
You don't have to watch this stuff, you know.
I understand that I'm the guy who just embedded a clip of ESPN's Colin Cowherd calling Kevin Durant(notes) "overrated," I'm the guy who essentially just asked you to "watch this stuff." But overall? You don't have to.
Because you're smarter than this. And because TV stations and a good chunk of major media outlets still don't think you are smarter than this. They think you want your analysis without any actual analysis involved. They think that you're still into the all-in-one sports columnist.
Or radio guy, whatever. That's what Colin Cowherd is. He has a radio show, and then they invite him on SportsCenter after his (what I'm sure is quite informed) Tesla-coiled back-and-forth to appear certain about supposedly black-and-white issues that he doesn't really know anything about. Why else would he gloss over the "Kevin Durant, going to be a Knick next season?" question (Kevin is signed with Oklahoma City through at least 2010-11) if he didn't know next to nothing about Durant and the NBA?
To say nothing of the whole bit about him being overrated. We know the truth behind that. The Thunder are probably the most overachieving team in the NBA, and Durant (who is 21 years old and averages 30 points and 7.5 rebounds) is easily this league's Most Improved Player, alongside his role as a top-five MVP candidate. It's a ridiculous notion on so many levels to call this player "overrated," and I could either waste your time telling you what you already know about Durant's place in this league, or I could possibly do some good with this in another realm.
(OK, one more point. This is a team sport. This is a TEAM SPORT. Individuals have influence, but so do those individuals' teammates. Only morons forget this. And only people who don't follow the NBA use playoff wins as a way to gauge a players' worth. By Cowherd's rules, Michael Jordan was "overrated" and "just a scorer" until his fourth season, when he barely won a first-round matchup - his first playoff series win at age 25 - against the Cleveland Cavaliers before getting skunked by the Pistons in the next round.
Before that, Jordan had a 1-9 record in playoff games. You know why? Because it's a team sport.)
What I want to get to, besides the fish-in-a-barrel nonsense regarding this utter pillock named "Colin Cowherd," is how little of this tripe we have to watch.
We just don't have to. Cable stations like ESPN and your closest big-town newspaper still seem obsessed with shoving general columnist-types down our throats, and they just don't work in 2010. A fan's knowledge of their particular favorite sport is so great that these people can't possibly keep up. Nobody, not the hardest worker out there, can keep up with four major pro sports plus colleges and have a fighting chance of knowing half as much as an obsessed fan who is sneaking in bits of analysis and game-watching when his or her lifestyle and responsibilities allow for it.
Think of your favorite scribes from any sport. Consider your favorite TV analysts. How many of them are jumping from sport to sport? How many of them are specialists? How many of your favorites are your favorites because they're the best and because they hone in on one particular sport (or, usually, league) at a time?
Now, think of your favorite general guys and gals. The ones that comment on every sport, every league, every end of the spectrum. When's the last time you learned anything from these guys?
Seriously, what was the last morsel of knowledge, regarding your particular sport or league of choice, that you took in from the people who have to follow everything under the sun?
It's not their fault. The ones who don't resort to the sort of nonsense embedded above, at least. The system is at fault. These types of columnists and talking heads are an anachronism in 2010, just designed to fail. They're a fast-food chain, meant to deliver snippets of sweetness to the uninformed quickly and rather cheaply. And it can't help but fail to hold up.
The problem is that McDonald's has a place in our culture. People take it for what it is.
In the culture of sports analysis, however, these general columnists will constantly have their work held up against the most obsessive of team bloggers, one-sport analysts or the local at-game media. And that's just not going to work. McDonald's doesn't shoot for Michelin stars alongside the likes of Le Bernadin, but because the access to proper sports analysis is so quick and cheap and satisfying (unlike, say, getting a table and/or being able to afford a meal at Le Bernadin), the all-in-one types are left to look like a dope.
(Prick)ishness results, as you see in the clip above. Because it's the only way to stand out, when you have nothing to stand for.
My solution? Don't watch the stuff. Streamline your viewing and what you read and never stop learning. I break out in hives if I miss PTI every evening, so I'm hardly one to talk, but beyond that you have to limit how much of this "tell me about all the sports in four minutes, Jack and Jill!" fake analysis that you support with every second you take in.
It's the only way to make it go away.
And when the people speak? When the results come in? What goes out? Twaddle.
And what comes back in?
Analysis. Something to learn from. Something to enhance your experience as a fan. Isn't that what we're after?
It's what we should be after. Let's intensify our search.