Monday links

I was away this weekend at the end of  long week. I will be resuming regular blogging today. To ease back into things, a few links and short comments:

1) Vice Sports’ Jessica Luther has been covering the now-dismissed sexual assault allegations against Jameis Winston, the accuser’s civil suit against him and his counter-suit. She was on MSNBC today to discuss the latest developments. Luther is smart and a great follow on twitter, fyi. 2) some buddies and I had a spirited discussion this weekend about deflate gate.

2) Charles Pierce has a piece at Grantland that is, more or less, a dead ringer for my own views on the subject:

  1. I think he knew damned well what was going on with those footballs. I think his categorical denial at the January press conference was what my old journalism school dean would have called a “barefaced nonfact.” I think he should be suspended for two games. And, then, good god, people, we should all get on with our lives.

Last week, the boxscore geeks podcast discussed Brady and mentioned the “halo effect,” the tendency to ascribed unrelated virtues to someone who you might like for one particular reason. This is, as you know from reading this blog, an endemic problem in sports media coverage. It’s not enough for great athletes and coaches to be great athletes and coaches. They must be people of character and fortitude and moral rectitude and all that. This gets us into all kinds of difficulties because, among other things, mainstream sports discourse embodies a screwy values system. Pierce, who has gotten to know Brady a bit (he wrote a book about him) and, apparently, knows Brady’s father quite well, addressed the outcome of this conflation of character and performance:

“The fact is that I am not objective about Tom Brady The Person and I don’t give a damn about Tom Brady The Brand. And I think it is The Brand that people have been protecting at the expense of The Person. The Brand is the reason you offer categorical denials when you don’t have to offer them. The Brand is why your agent goes into orbit when silence would better serve the client. The Brand survives news cycle to news cycle. The Person has to live with the consequences, for good and ill.”

I think we’d all be better off if we gave up imagining that we can somehow glean meaningful personal insights from public figures based on their public performances and personae.

3) I like the Clippers. Specifically, I love watching Chris Paul play and would like to see him making a deep run in the playoffs. And I really like DeAndre Jordan, who doesn’t get enough credit for how great he is because he happens to suck at one particular phase of the game that is a really visible and therefore embarrassing thing to suck at. But the NBA has got to change this rule. Intentionally fouling someone uninvolved with the ball should be whistled for exactly what it is – an intentional foul. Why would you take a sport that, at its best, is a marvel of flow, athleticism and movement and reduce it to the ugliness on display yesterday? You want to foul Jordan hard whenever he gets ready to shoot and make him earn at the line – absolutely fine. But grabbing him forty feet from the play as being whistled as if you’re making a legitimate basketball play is absurd. I am not blaming any time for doing so. It’s the rule that needs to change.

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