Making Sport of Our Future

 

by WALTER BRASCH

           

One of the fun things sports writers do is try to predict the winners and scores of upcoming games, from high school through the pros. For special “look-at-us-we’re important” bonus points, they create lists of “Top” teams and rank them, both pre-season and weekly.

Sports writers have some kind of genetic mutation that leads them to believe they know more about sports than the average schlump who spends almost $200 a year for a newspaper subscription and as much as $500 a year for all-access all-games everywhere cable coverage. However, the reality is that even the best prognosticators—sports writers love big words when they can pronounce them—have a record about as accurate as the horoscope on the comics page.

Nevertheless, the guesses and rankings by sportswriters are usually innocuous. Readers and viewers usually forget in a couple of days who says what, and go about their own lives trying to make a mediocre paycheck stretch until the end of the month.

Joining the “guess how bright I am” journalists are some reporters who cover national political races. Instead of researching and explaining candidate positions on numerous issues, and giving readers and viewers a greater understanding of how those positions could impact their own lives, these pompous scribblers have made politics another sports contest.

The national news media, secure in their perches in New York and Washington, D.C., several months ago began chirping about who will win the Iowa caucus. For the final few days, they parachuted into Iowa to let their readers and viewers think they were toughened field reporters with as difficult a job as combat correspondents in Iraq or Afghanistan. Like hungry puppies, they stayed close to the candidates, hoping for a morsel or two, digested it, passed it out of their system as wisdom, and haughtily predicted the winner would be Mitt Romney—no, wait—it’s Michele Bachman—no, we’re calling for a surprising victory by Herman Cain—stop-the-presses, Cain petered out—Newt Gingrich is definitely going to take Iowa—Rick Perry is our prediction— we predict Ron Paul might be ahead—the race is going to be tough, but based upon our superior knowledge because we’re the national news media and we’re infallible, and from projections we picked out of our butts we believe—.

The one candidate they discounted for almost all but the last week of the Iowa primary race was Rick Santorum. Not a chance, they declared. Weak campaign. Lack of funds. No charismatic razzle-dazzle. No vital signs. Dead as a 2-by-4 about to be sawed and covered by wallboard.

Santorum, of course, came within eight votes of taking the Iowa caucus. The news media then spent the next day telling us all about that campaign, much in the same way that a bubbly TV weather girl, who a week earlier predicted bright sunny skies for a week, tells us we had snow the past three days.

The national news media jetted out of Iowa faster than a gigolo leaving a plain rich girl for a plain richer one, and descended upon New Hampshire. In the granite state, they have been repeating their performance from Iowa. They have predicted who the “real” winners and losers are. They have tried to convince us they can actually talk to us common folk, so they are grabbing whoever they find to answer in less than ten seconds, “Who do you think will win?” After the New Hampshire primary concludes, Tuesday, the media will happily discard their snow coats for windbreakers and descend into South Carolina, where they will continue to treat a presidential race as little more than a sporting contest.

There’s a difference, however. Generally, whoever wins or loses a game doesn’t have much impact upon the rest of us, so we smile at the sportswriters’ attempts to predict outcomes and pretend they can analyze the impact of a reserve left tackle’s hangnail. Those who are elected to our city councils, state legislatures, Congress, and the Presidency do have an impact upon us. And we deserve a lot better than the arrogance of the news clan reporting the contests as if they were sporting events.

[Walter Brasch was a sportswriter and sports editor before becoming an award-winning public affairs/investigative reporter and columnist, who has covered several presidential campaigns. He was once a reporter for an Iowa newspaper. His current book is the critically-acclaimed social issues mystery-thriller, Before the First Snow.]

 

 

Bill Courts OJ Jury, Area 51 Vote!!

   http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/05/26/b ill.clinton.mon/index.html

   Here we have it folks. The latest excuse from the Clinton campaign, coming from the Big Dog himself. It's not that Hillary has run a poor campaign, it's not that Obama beat her throughout red, blue and purple America. It's now a COVER UP that will stop Hillary from being the Democratic nominee.

There's more...

Clinton wins PA and Obama wins Nomination

  First off, hats off to the Clinton campaign...solid win! Congratulations!!

  Now let's analyze the importance of this win tonite. Hillary Clinton will go on...that's a given. But just how much have her nomination, and White House hopes improved? The smart money is they have hardly improved at all. I know I know, Hillary wins big states....Hillary is our first stringer, blah blah...the arguments for why I belive all these arguments are misguided are below the fold

There's more...

I love a good dose of fear-mongering

   All over MyDD today are diaries and comments by Clintonites just FURIOUS at the negative campaign being waged by Barack Obama. Conveniently of course, they ignore the fact that their candidate, Hillary Clinton is running a campaign basically calling Obama a wimp. These Clintonites apparently think that's just fine, but are blowing a gasket over Obama daring to sharply attack Hillary.

  Now, however, the campaign of Hillary "3AM and I'll tell tales of being shot at" Clinton has reached a new low.

There's more...

If I had a nickle...

Back in 2006, before any Democrats had announced their intentions to run, I was cheering the quality of our potential field, which included such top-notch Democrats as Gore, Edwards, Clark, Clinton, and Obama.  I also wrote:

I hope that having such a high-quality field won't, perversely, lead to a greater-than-normal number of gratuitous potshots being taken by Democratic bloggers and diarists

Well, if only I had a nickle for every one of those gratuitous potshots!

Today we have a recommended diary on MyDD which charges a Democratic presidential candidate with lying (in capital letters, no less!) - and the charge is so cockamamy that even to call it cockamamy is to elevate it too much. Yet, alas, the diarist is not too embarrassed to pen it in his diary, and the recommenders are not too embarrassed to press the Recommend button.  

The issue? Obama has more than once said he was "a law professor" or "a constitutional law professor" at the University of Chicago. He did indeed "serve as a professor of law" at this university, according to the university, but his staff title was "Senior Lecturer," not "Professor."  Thus he was a small-p professor, not a big-P Professor.

Did Obama nefariously imply that he was a big-P professor? Should he have been very careful, as the diarist argues, to say "I taught law" rather than "I was a professor of law".  After all, people may not hear the a and may well conclude in any event that he was a big-P and not a small-p professor.

As if it needed to be stated:  this Democratic presidential candidate has a great deal of expertise in the field of constitutional law, which is what allowed him to be hired to teach constitutional law at a prestigious law school.  Thus, no one who has come to believe that this Democratic presidential candidate has a great deal of expertise in the field of constitutional law, has formed a false belief.

Giving the diarist the benefit of the doubt, I would assume he is a fine and loyal Democrat.  Nonetheless his diary unfortunately exhibits the characteristics of both trolling and concern-trolling.  Trolling because the title of the diary makes a completely over-the-top charge that a Democratic presidential candidate is guilty of "lying", and concern-trolling because the diarist asserts that if Obama wasn't fibbing, then in the best case he was foolishly careless to use the word "professor"since it could be used against him!

There's more...

Diaries

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