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ABC gets an F for its football coverage

Sat, 09/01/2018 - 8:38pm
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The college football seasons opened up for teams across Oregon Saturday and the results were basically as they were predicted ... by Las Vegas ... with No. 24 Oregon scoring a blowout at home against Bowling Green and Oregon State getting mauled at No. 5 Ohio State on national television.

Portland State lost at Nevada .. and Div. II and NAIA teams also kicked off to spirited fanfare - George Fox opened with 122 players on its roster.

The thing that caught my attention most, at least in the morning hours, was ABC’s coverage of the OSU at OSU game, and it owes an apology to Oregon State and Beaver Nation for how it turned the game into a local broadcast of the Buckeyes.

Oregon State traveled halfway across the country to face a very difficult game - underdogs by 39 points and with a new head coach (the program’s fourth in five years), but it pretty much wasn’t even involved in the game, other than as the program getting fed to the host school.

Jonathan Smith, a former Beavers standout at quarterback, was coaching his first game as a head coach, but ABC didn’t even acknowledge him until more than 12 minutes had gone by. The Beavers had the ball for the fourth time, had already scored a touchdown and been in OSU territory three times before they put the camera on him and let the nation know he was one of the brightest offensive minds in the game. The Beavers even lost their starting quarterback after just one possession to make the game that much harder, yet back-up Conor Blount was performing admirably against one of the premier defensive lines in the game.

The network, and rightly so, opened the broadcast with an update of the drama surrounding Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer’s three-game suspension that led to assistant Ryan Day taking over as interim head coach. ABC’s broadcast team of Dave Pasch and Greg McElroy covered Day extensively, as it should have.

But, Oregon State actually played in the game, too, and they pretty much forgot to include that element as part of the broadcast for most of the first quarter. They eventually got around to Smith and former coach Mike Riley returning to become an assistant on the team’s fourth possession.

The score by the team’s fourth possession was getting out of hand, and it was a disaster of a game on defense along the way to giving up 77 points. But, the offense played heroically behind Blount, receiver Trevon Bradford and running back Artavis Pierce, and eventually scored 31 points.

ABC just covered Ohio State for almost the entire first quarter, something that shows no respect for a major college program, which might be in a rocky spot in football - almost half of the team had never played in a Div. I game before, but is still celebrating a national title in baseball so there’s plenty to talk about regarding the teams from Corvallis. None of that drama or excitement got anywhere near the broadcast until a half-hour had passed.

The game wasn’t much in doubt pretty quickly, but Oregon State deserved a lot more respect that it got shown by ABC Saturday morning. And, it’s apology worthy - to coach Smith and Beaver Nation, regardless of the eventual score.

NCAA shows very little interest in women

Tue, 03/20/2018 - 6:14am
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When the NCAA Tournament bracket was released for women’s basketball last week, Oregon State University didn’t get treated very well. And, it kinda got worse, because even though the Beavers’ program produced some unprecedented success, the entire women’s game got fairly well disrespected this weekend.

For starters, Oregon State, despite being ranked No. 13 nationally in the Associated Press poll, which is promoted on ncaa.com, the Beavers were relegated to a No. 6 seed, something that would put them ranked 24th or worse. With that seed, OSU didn’t get to play host to one of the 16 four-team sub-regional tournaments, which the sixth-ranked Oregon Ducks did as a No. 2 seed. The Beavers were the only team among the top 16 that didn’t get to host games over the weekend.

When the results came in, though, the NCAA did plenty to disrespect more than just the Beavers. They did it to the women’s game.

Oregon State won its two games, including a win over host Tennessee that was the Vols’ first ever at home in the tournament. The Beavers might not have gotten seeded where they should have, but they played like a team that should have been seeded higher. Great job OSU.

It’s in looking for results on the game via the NCAA website that you find out how much respect the organization has for women’s basketball, or perhaps women’s sports in general.

As the men’s tournament is taking place at the same time, there’s tournament games aplenty to provide results on, and the NCAA did that ... for men’s games. Every game Sunday got a video, a short recap of the game and the game box score. The front page of the NCAA website shows off the thrill of the tournament. And, there’s one story on the women’s game.

Each one of the women’s games got a box score, and a link to a story that turned out to be the tournament bracket. The games involving a No. 1 or 2 seed got a short video, but all the website story links went to the same place - the tournament bracket. Even the headlines from Monday that promoted some excitement of the day - “8 more teams vie for Sweet 16 berths” - went to the bracket.

Today, after those eight games were decided, the NCAA website promoted the men’s tournament Sweet 16 being set with a video and story, and the women’s Sweet 16 being set with a listing of the scores from the previous two days.

This actually seems like an opportunity for women to address the importance of their sports to their governing body - why does the NCAA care more about the men’s game than the women’s game? Obvioiusly, it’s money. But, it shouldn’t affect something as basic as the NCAA website where the economic affect of putting a little more effort into promotion of the women’s tournament is just flat out effort.

Oregon and Oregon State are getting covered just fine by local media, which has put them at the top of their news. And, the Ducks and Beavers have plenty of fans - show off by the Ducks getting more than 7,500 fans for their game Sunday. But the NCAA is showing off just how little it thinks of women’s athletics by putting effort into only promoting the men’s tournament.

 

This year's Tournament is only halfway interesting

Thu, 03/15/2018 - 7:27am
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The NCAA Tournament begins today, at least the men's portion does, and I'm probably the least interested that I've ever been in the bracket.

Again, at least the men's side.

With the Oregon men's team pretty much making next season far more interesting than this one due to recruiting, and playing only into the NIT, and Oregon State just in the background of the conference, the local need to pay attention went away in the past month. And, that's

Then, there's the national scene that went haywire, which I'll get to later.

Oregon's women, and the Beavers, too, helped save some my attention for college hoop, but sports fans on the national level still aren't ready for women's basketball other than on cable television. The Ducks are going to be televised, but only at a neighboring restaurant that pays for the most expanded cable package available.

Oregon State, too.

One of the key issues in college men's basketball this season has been all the scandals involving the biggest programs. North Carolina, Louisvill, Arizona. And, there's the issue of whether high school players should be able to return to simply bypassing college altogher and go to the NBA.

And, there's Lavar Ball and European basketball. In covering high school games, I've taken to asking players being recruited by Div. I colleges if they'd consider heading to Europe if a two-year contract worth more than $100,000 per season were offered them by a team in Greece. Would they sign that? So far, the answer has been "no - my education comes first," but, perhaps, only because that thought never came up before. When asked a second time, and the amount of money being stressed further, the answer came back as, "I'd have to talk to my parents," for both the players I talked with.

The high school season really captivated my interest in the game, but it's over.

If you have a television in your house, and who doesn't, you can't miss the men's tournament, and it is fun to await the crazy upsets that happen today and tomorrow. I picked the Pac-12 teams to advance at least to their region finals in my online bracket, but two of the three teams already lost their play-in games. Thanks UCLA and Arizona State.

Hopefully, the Ducks will blow out their first two opponents this weekend in the women's tournament.

Probably the most interest I'll have this weekend is in Knoxville, Tenn., where Oregon State got sent with a sixth seed. I might even follow their game Sunday against Tennessee - if it happens - online, to pull for the Beavers giving a big middle finger to the NCAA selection committee for making them a six seed despite being ranked 13th.

The NCAA doesn't seem to think much of Corvallis, so this is a great year for Oregon State to make a playoff run like the Ducks did last year as a 10-seed reaching the Elite Eight.

I'm a fan of the underdog, so Oregon State might actually be the team I'm pulling for most, at least this weekend.

 

Don't forget your homework

Fri, 03/09/2018 - 7:21am
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Homework came up a couple times in entertaining ways in basketball environs Thursday.

While chatting with Western Oregon senior Malik Morgan about the upcoming NCAA Div. II men's basketball regional, I asked him about the other three games set for today on the WOU campus, if he planned to attend any of those games. His senior-dominated team plays at 7:30 p.m., with the other games beginning at noon.

He answered as a committed student-athlete:

"That's one of the bad things about having the tournament in our gym," he said. "You still have to go to class, take tests, pay attention and all that."

In Corvallis, following Marist's comeback win over Silverton in the Class 5A semis, the Marist girls went directly to their fan section and got mobbed, something that hasn't happened to them this season, even though they've been at the top of the state all year and have lost just three times.

"It's nice to finally have some students at our games," junior Kayley Elliott said. "We've been getting great support since we got to the tournament."

But, not, she admitted, before the tournament.

Listening over my shoulder, a grandparent of one of the girls got in my ear.

"You know, we take homework very seriously at Marist," she said. "So the kids don't have all the time to go to basketball games."

They did Thursday, taking a bus from Eugene to Corvallis in the middle of the day as the game started at 1:30 p.m.

The prep state playoffs are an odd connection between teams and fans, and teams don't seem to mind because they get that tournament feel - a feel they might never get again.

High school playoffs, and even small colleges, would be much better served with a Final Four set-up, something the community college playoffs have now adopted instead of playing so many games in such a short time. At the NAIA national tournaments, teams, Eastern Oregon and Southern Oregon are in Iowa playing in their national tournament, have to sin five games - in five days for half the tournament, to win their national title.

For starters, at a tournament - both high school and small college, almost none of the games are played at the time from the regular season, when parents and students are most likely to be able to attend a game - that's 7 p.m. or later. Especially for the prep quarterfinals, it drastically reduces the level of team support available for virtually every team, especially ones that are even a moderate distance from the tournament.

And, with a quarterfinal loss, a team is headed for the consolation bracket, which features games that begin as early as 8 a.m. Nyssa, playing in the Class 3A tournament in Pendleton last weekend, lost it's quarterfinal at 1:30 p.m., then won its second game at 8 a.m. the following morning, and played in the fourth-place final - at 8 a.m. Saturday. The Bulldogs, who lost Satuday and finished 17-11 with a sixth-place trophy, played three games in three days and two started before the school day would have even started back home.

But, they probably loved it, because the games had "tournament" attached to them.

Quarterfinals played at home sites would attract much more attention and bigger crowds basically everywhere, and students would miss less class time, with a Final Four being a lot more vibrant as it would have several days of pre-game anticipation. And, it would be less expensive on the OSAA, which manages the tournaments and reimburses schools for travel and other expenses.

But, the schools and teams don't want it, said OSAA Executive Director Peter Weber.

"We look at it every few years, but the schools ... they really don't support it," he said at the Class 6A tournament Wednesday, acknowledging that a Final Four would be more financially attractive for the OSAA. "They really like the tournaments."

And, Clackamas senior Elly Bankofier said the game itself was the key part of the experience - the Cavaliers having lost to Southridge in the quarterfinals Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. They did have a couple dozen classmates in their student section, who were kept away from them until after they appeared from their lockerroom.

"I like that it was played on a neutral court," she said. "There probably would have been more people at a game at their gym, but I like the way it is with the tournament."

So, a Final Four would be much better for high schools, but the players involved don't want that because for at least one week they get to be athletes 100 percent of the time, and students on the way to making up homework sometime in the future.

 

A great reason to coach photography

Fri, 02/23/2018 - 12:36pm
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This weekend I'll probably coach my son for the final time in a sporting event.

It's been quite a few seasons, and a lot of fun, mostly, anyway.

We started with his first throw of a small, plush football that was a perfect spiral at age 18 months. And, while we never got to the level of club teams for more than a season, playing a sport three seasons per school year has been a wonderful experience and forged a strong bond between us. Until the teenage years, at least.

As we draw to a close in the Portland Parks Goldenball basketball season, it's a time to look back and think upon what I taught my son and/or what I hoped he learned from all the seasons of soccer, basketball, baseball and one season of football and lacrosse.

I'm not sure I have a good answer, which is a bit disappointing.

In contemplating these two thoughts, though, I reinforced my belief that photography is something every parent should focus on more as it relates to their children. And, it should be taught as a basic requirement in the education system. People should know how to take good pictures, how to print them out and what their importance is in the world.

It's something that should be talked about at the start of every season for every team - "hey, make sure we capture some of these moments on film (they're going to be printed on paper).

For one thing, pictures don't lie, at least not without Photoshop.

And, they tell stories that don't need words - words being one of the great methods of ruining any situation in parenting.

A whole lot of teams, especially ones that play indoors, have a handle on the value of photos at the end of a season through "Senior Night." That's when seniors and their families get a moment to celebrate the close of their son or daughter's athletic career with public recognition and a family picture. It's a very strong moment for most of these families and captured with a photo.

Or course, you don't know when your athletic career might end, so getting a photo from every season is important.

This past week I did the play-by-play for a webcast of the Grant at Jefferson boys basketball game, which was a great experience especially as the color guy ended up being Portland Community College coach Tony Broadous. We had a great time and the webcast showcased that, but I missed having someone take a photo of us, which would have multiplied the value of the experience. Thursday, I sang the national anthem at a high school basketball game ... with a parent as a duet, but missed getting a photo, which would have made my Facebook page go wild.

It's not something just for athletics either. How many parents are able to get a photo of their son or daughter studying? Some of the great photos from American history are of people just thinking - President John Kennedy and his brother Bobby during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The skill of photography that might be taught is how to isolate specific photos. Everyone has a camera now via their cell phone, and can take thousands of pictures. They forward many of those photos to social media, and that's where the photos end. Getting a physical copy of photos is a tremendous loss in our society.

I think I have enough good pictures of my son, and daughter's athletic career, too, that I feel good about how he'll look back upon all those practices and games in two, five, 10 years and beyond. How we will look back upon them as we grow older.

 

 

Playoff excitement leads to live webcast

Thu, 02/08/2018 - 7:46am
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Get ready for some basketball! Because the Grant at Jefferson boys game is headed for a live webcast through Oregonsports.com, the Jefferson High athletic department confirmed Wednesday.

The game will be the first live webcast for this site, working in conjuction with producers at Oregon Sports Beat. The game will feature high school broadcasters as well.

Grant at Jefferson is likely to be the biggest game in terms of attention within the state this season, so impressive that it was originally moved to the Chiles Center following the meeting between the teams at the Marshall campus in January. Several hundred spectators were turned away, and PPS Athletic Department personnel figured the chances were very good the second regular-season match-up could come close if not fill the 5,000-seat arena on the University of Portland campus with area fans just looking for a good time.

That game was set to be teamed with the Benson-Grant girls game, featuring two of the top teams in the state. But, the scheduling fell through and the boys game moved back to Jefferson, where the school expects to seat more than 1,200 fans of a crowd that may approach 2,000. The junior varsity game held prior to every varsity game is going to get some attention.

The student broadcasters are being trained at Benson High School, which has a radio broadcast program.

 

State of world through sports

Wed, 01/31/2018 - 12:18pm
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In the wake of political garble from Tuesday night, it occured to me to look at where the state of the world is in relation to ... our future. As in, if the students of today watched one of the 24-hour news channels for about 90 minutes (and as a parent of two teenagers I wonder what the Vegas odds would be on that), how would they look at the world they're inheriting from the leaders of today.

What lessons are they getting from politicians, from journalists who dominate national news coverage? What are they getting out of their parents? Their teachers? Their coaches ... if they're lucky to be involved in a sport.

It wouldn't take long for many students to get a handle on the idea that the only thing that matters is winning. You're either a Democrat or a Republican and your side has to win, pretty much at all costs. That those two parties combined make up America - so you're an American above all else - seems to have gotten lost, although these days the significant focus on immigration has made the nation one of Americans and immigrants who are invading the nation illegally.

The supreme focus on winning at all costs is one I cannot think would go very far in the sports world, especially in youth sports. Imagine a football coach telling his players it was okay to injure an opposing player because that would impact that team's ability to win? If there were an assistant coach available, that strategy would get challenged immediately. Players would challenge that, and likely rebel. But, that's essentially a lesson coming from so many leaders, and that's politics and business. Win at all costs.

A "New American Moment" ended up as a catchphrase Tuesday night, but it had exactly zero weight behind it. The new moment is one of collaboration? Teamwork? President Donald Trump has made a name for himself as one of a bully starting with his mantra of never apologizing. Apologies are a sign of weakness, so don't apologize for anything.

A "New American Moment" would start at the top, with the nation's head coach, and it could start with an apology for basic things such as name-calling, from the President. Hillary Clinton. Ted Cruz. Marco Rubio. They all should get an apology for the playground names thrown at them. Imagine what a simple round of apologies would do for America? For the world for that matter.

Political leaders of today owe their voters of the future, students in the education system and before, a big apology for allowing the world to veer in directions that are entirely opposite of what they should be getting taught.

Nuclear codes? That's the most basic way to get students to tune out, tell them that America is actually ready to unleash an atomic bomb on another nation. All the education that the adult world has, and it still hasn't figured out there's never going to be a need to drop a nuclear bomb on a city. America apologizes to Japan annually for using atomic bombs to motivate the end of World War II. At least it has in the past.

There's a great source of strength within the sports world, and these are days when that strength is sorely needed by our leaders, both political and business.

 

Where's Damian's big mouth?

Thu, 01/25/2018 - 10:46am
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In the wake of Russell Westbrook's whining, complaining comments about teammate Paul George being, at least, temporarily left out of the All-Star Game, it's not hard to wonder ... how come Damian Lillard isn't whining about someone else not being left off the big roster that's going to be separated into two, basically playground teams.

That's how far the All-Star Game has devolved to get people to pay attention. There's now two captains who pick teams based on a draft system.

They should hold the draft on game day - make it like the captains used to do when they were younger. That would get some attention at the start of the game. Then, make them trade a couple guys at halftime. Like the playground days.

Instead of whining like Russell, Damian took the high road Wednesday in talking to media:

"I respect Russ a lot, so it was kind of disappointing to see him say that," Lillard said prior to Wednesday's game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. "Because he's played against me, he's played against our team, he knows what I've accomplished. Not just this year, but over my career. So it was a little bit disappointing, but I know that I earned my spot this year. And that's pretty much what it is: I earned my spot."

Pro sports has always been about, heck being in the public eye, has always been about getting headlines, and that means shooting your mouth off on a regular basis.

Westbrook could have gotten some of the same headlines by saying people might say Damian is having a great season, and he's been overlooked the past couple years (and he has), but Paul George is having a great season and deverses a spot as well. So if Damian pulls a muscle and needs to sit out, or anyone else does, then Paul George should be the first call. Otherwise, he'll probably be at home toasting those of us who are still working while he's got a weekend off.

 

Let's send New England back!

Mon, 01/22/2018 - 7:19pm
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It's not hard to review the AFC Championship game from Sunday and think how much a split second impacted the Super Bowl. A delay of game penalty called on Jacksonville late in the first half wiped out a first down, and New England turned events in their favor to score a touchdown and avoid what was becoming a marquee performance by a team that can't even fill it's own stadium for home games.

And, so we get another Super Bowl with Tom Brady - the world's most hated future Hall of Famer - unless, of course, there's all those conversations about the ethics of cheating.

New England - again.

As we go through the day-after moaning about having to watch him/them again in the big game, maybe there's a way to get back at him/them by just getting rid of New England altogether from the NFL. That's right - banish New England. Not, the Patriots, just New England.

Make the Patriots go back to Boston.

As a way to get fans from hating the NFL, the league should require teams to represent their home city, not an entire region, which would affect only a handful of teams. That means the Patriots would go back to being the Boston Patriots - their original AFL name, Carolina would be the Charlotte Panthers, and we'd become used to the Nashville Titans.

 

 

Too bad about Nick

Fri, 01/05/2018 - 4:56pm
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As the football season heats up professionall, and concludes collegiately, I look longingly at Nick Saban and how he isn't a better American. Or isn't allowed to be a better American ... because he's just a coach. A football coach, and really nothing more.

Saban is a great coach, who's built an absolute dynasty at the University of Alabama, but that's pretty much where his impact on the world ends. He's a coach. And, when football really is boiled down, it's entertainment for the masses. There's plenty of life lessons involved for the athletes involved, and those get passed on to fans - often in the form of movies. But, when society hits a social minefield such as the one we're engulfed in now, coaches of pretty much every sport at every level are pretty much required to ... shut up.

"You're a coach, so just coach."

And, that's what he does for more than $11 million per year. Anyone else in his shoes might do precisely the same thing, as you're not required to do more.

Yet, especially when there's mention of the "Tea Party" that infiltrated the U.S. Elections in 2010 and beyond, it's not hard to wonder how the nation will become "great again" if people don't make it happen, especially people who have the ability to influence a community for a greater purpose. That Tea Party was involved in causing colonists to break away from British rule in the 1750s into the 1780s. They did it at considerable peril, too.

Saban's considerable peril is just monetary.

As I think about what Nick could do for America, there's a path that's not actually all that perilous that would help the nation greatly. All he has to do is share with the world what he teaches his players about life, and then examine the world through those lessons.

How much respect can you give someone for calling you names in public? Like "Little Marco," or "Lyin' Ted"? Our elected leaders don't seem to be able to touch a subject like that because they seem to have lost the ability to be good Americans themselves, and instead are just Republicans or Democrats.

What all our elected Republicans and Democrats need is a return to basic logic, such as legislative acts should be well planned and thought out for the good of the country, not just won or lost on behalf of a particular party. The media would immediately turn that statement toward Republicans in Congress for their repeated actions of "just win, baby" so we can say we won. That would make Nick a liberal or a Democrat-sympathiser, which would be the peril involved because Alabama fans, according to one study done in 2012, are the most Republican-leaning fans in the nation - pro or college.

Why would Nick tell Congress to act better? Because it's a great thing to do, and it's a great time to do it, too. Remind our public leaders that there's a nation they need to take care of, and it's more than just two parties with differing views.

That's the kind of thing that would make him more than just a coach, more than just an entertainer. That would make him a great American.

 

 

 

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