Can Colin Kaepernick’s legacy go from NFL flop to cultural icon?!?

Much has been written about the 49ers QB in the first 36 hour since the media figured out he wasn’t standing for the national anthem. (He didn’t stand for 2 previous games but no one noticed him because he wasn’t in uniform) Some like Outkick the Coverage‘s Clay Travis have called Mr. Kaepernick an idiot, while others like Shaun King of the New York Daily News have strongly defended his actions.  The reaction in America has predictably been very partisan with the overall consensus falling somewhere in the middle.  “Colin has the right not to stand, but disagree with his actions”  I have enjoyed reading all the columns on the Kaepernick situation and highly recommend this Barstool Sports post from Uncle Chaps and the thoughts of an ex-Army Ranger in the Independent Journal Review, both opinions were well thought out and very insightful.

Throughout most of his career, Colin has been widely known as the NFL version of Ryan Lochte, a self-absorbed douchebag who only cared about living the “Bro” lifestyle.   I was shocked when I heard the anthem news Saturday morning, and my initial reaction was “wow, what an idiot!” but after reading his quotes and watching his Sunday press conference,  Mr. Kaepernick appears sincere in his beliefs.  (although I must admit, I did take pause when he talked in the very basic of generalities and didn’t understand the term “blanket indictment”)  If his convictions are that strong, I am glad he is taking a stand  and wish him the best.  His NFL career however, on life support entering training camp, is now DOA.   If the 49ers decide to release him, I would be shocked if another NFL club would take a chance, Colin is now radioactive and his current play is not worth the headache or fan backlash.   Colin will probably go down in NFL history as a flop, he had two outstanding seasons in 2012 & 2013 but once NFL defenses figured out how to stop him, he’s been totally ineffective and his slide to football oblivion has been meteoric.

By taking this anthem stance or “sit-in”, Mr. Kaepernick is hoping that his NFL legacy will not be one of failure but one of change.  He realizes this is probably his last chance to have this big a platform, and wants to go out fighting for something he now believes in.  Even if you don’t share his beliefs you have to admire his bravery .    That being said, I disagree with Colin’s beliefs and actions.   I view standing for the anthem as a thank you to all the brave men and women who have fought to make this country a wonderful land of freedom and opportunity.  Yes there are racial problems in this country, and social media definitely brings out the worst in people.  It’s really easy for Colin to tweet  Malcolm X and MLK quotes and act outraged retweeting articles about police misconduct on Twitter and Instagram,  but if Mr. Kaepernick really hates this country and believes black people are under attack, he will stop sitting for the anthem and get to work fixing it.  I want Colin to use his anger the right way, and help change the system.   He needs to follow Jim Brown’s lead and campaign with state and local candidates who share his values, help recruit more minority police officers, and most importantly continue working with kids from low-income neighborhoods.   Hopefully Colin’s actions in the future will match his words, and he can learn to love his country again.

One other thing,  can we please stop with the constant comparisons of Colin Kaepernick to Muhammad Ali?!?, and the “you can’t respect Ali and be angry at  Kaepernick narrative“!   Like Ali, Colin is taking a stand for something he believes in and like Ali, Colin is taking a lot of shit for it, but as of right now that is pretty much where the comparisons end.  Ali was at the height of his career and the biggest figure in sports when he took a stand against participating in the Vietnam War, and was willing and did lose everything.  Colin is taking a stand during the downside of his career, and even if this action ends his NFL playing days, he still has $61 million to fall back on.   The stakes were FAR greater for Mr. Ali, and it was his actions in later life that helped heal those wounds, and led to his worldwide adoration.    That being said, we can’t predict the future, and in 40 years we might also regard Mr. Kaepernick as a cultural icon, and see his anthem stand as a seminal moment in U.S. racial relations.  The point is, we don’t know…let historians in the future make the comparison, for right now its way too soon for the cable news “instant legacy debate”.  Calling people morons for respecting Ali and hating Colin might get you a ton of retweets and likes but it’s not helping the conversation.  Colin is ending the first chapter of his adult life by sitting for something he believes in, can we plrease all sit back and see how the Colin Kaepernick story turn out before we write the book review on his legacy!

thanks for reading

The Idiot

U.S. Soccer’s handling of Hope Solo’s case was bungled but not sexist

ViceSports’ Leander Schaerlaeckens wrote an interesting article about Hope Solo’s 6 month suspension from the United States Women’s National team. Mr. Schaerlaeckens (man that’s tough to spell!) made a lot of good salient points about the ham handed way U.S. Soccer has reacted to various discretions Ms. Solo has had during her tenure on the USWNT.

However, I disagree with his analysis that Ms. Solo’s punishment by U.S. Soccer was sexist.  Comparing her Olympic outburst  to Cristiano Ronaldo’s at EURO 2016 and various indiscretions from male members of the USMNT is plain wrong, this suspension was strictly a business decision, nothing more, nothing less.

  1. US Men could make the comments but Hope can’t! Mr. Schaerlaeckens fell into the same trap that many writers who have written about the USWNT’s equal pay struggles have also done.  You can not compare the USWNT to the USMNT.  It’s essentially comparing apples to oranges.   Hope Solo is a full time employee of US Soccer, Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley and Tim Howard are not.   Hope Solo drew a salary and benefits from US Soccer, while the men’s team are full-time employees of their selected clubs, and play for the USMNT on a freelance basis.    The men do not earn a dime if they do not play, and can also elect to play or not play for US Soccer at their own discretion.   If US Soccer were upset by any of their comments, they would simply not select them for the next match, and they would have no financial liability to the player.  Hope Solo was under contract to the USWNT and would still draw a salary if she was hurt or was not selected to play in Rio and like any business, as a full-time employee of US Soccer her actions would receive greater a disciplinary response then the actions of a free lance employee.
  2. What about Ronaldo! Mr. Schaerlaeckens and Clay Travis’ comparisons to Cristiano Ronaldo’s comment are also invalid because Mr. Ronaldo’s comments about Iceland’s defensive style were made while Portugal was still alive in the tournament.   If the Portugal FA were upset by the comments, they still had matches to play in EURO 2016, and they needed their best player.  If the USWNT had lost to Sweden in the last game of group play, and Hope Solo made the same coward comments toward Sweden after the match, you can bet your bottom dollar Hope Solo would have escaped punishment and been between the pipes for the knockout stage.
  3.  Wrong Place, Wrong Time! Hope Solo’s comments also fell victim to the time and place at which she made them.  The USWNT were World Cup champions and heavy favorites to win the gold in Rio.  They were pretty much declared unbeatable and a lock.  Unlike the World Cup, the Olympics get the attention of every news and sports media outlet in the United States, so when Hope made her coward comments it further reinforced the “Ugly American” sore loser stereotype,  it was naturally going to get much more scrutiny and criticism then if she had made them at the Women’s World Cup.  US Soccer was embarrassed by Hope on the world stage and decided they finally had enough.
  4. Services no longer Required! Hope has been a pain in the ass to US Soccer for the better part of her career, but her talent was so great they put up with her shit as long as the team was  winning Olympic golds and a World Cup title.   Judging by the lack of outrage to the suspension from Hope’s teammates and the reactions of Julie Foudy and Megan Rapinoe to Hope’s comments it was clear her teammates had also had enough. The loss to Sweden ended the current cycle for the USWNT and also meant no revenue generating “Victory Tour” for the US Soccer.  2 friendlies in September are scheduled for the rest of 2016, and then is no big event until the Women’s World Cup  in 2019.  Hope will be 38 in 2019, so chances are pretty good the USWNT can find a better option.  Just like her male counterparts in teams sports once she was deemed expendable, she was kicked to the curb.

Yes, this suspension is over the top and does not fit the crime, and I have a big problem suspending someone for postgame comments., but the sexist argument does not hold water,  and the comparisons are not valid.    Bottom line, US Soccer did not need Hope Solo anymore and wanted out of her contract.  They used her comments as a flimsy excuse to terminate their deal.  I might not agree with how they did it but it’s time to cut Hope loose, thank her for her service and move on.

 

10 ways NBC can improve their coverage of the Olympic Games.

The Games of the XXXI Summer Olympiad are now complete and on Monday everyone was critiquing NBC’s production of the Games.  Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch and Awful Announcing’s Ken Fang both had excellent reviews of NBC’s coveage, and I encourage everyone to read their fine works.  Criticizing NBC’s coverage of the Olympic Games is a biennial tradition and rather then piling on, I thought I would provide 10 ways the Peacock Network could improve their coverage.

  1. LOVE IT LIVE!  Obviously the biggest complaint for the last few Olympiads has been NBC tape delaying and “packaging” for primetime.  The next 3 Olympics are in far east Asia (PyeongChang 2018, Tokyo 2020, Beijing 2022) so that should fit nicely into NBC’s packaging plans.   It was interesting to note in the 2016 Rio Games, NBC essentially gave live “Women’s Gymnastics” to European TV in exchange for Live Swimming and Track much to the dismay of the swimming community.  One would think that NBC would want their most popular sport to air live in primetime on the east coast, but it was obvious NBC wanted to tape the event, so it would give them the ability to air Women’s Gymnastics in the 8pm hour and then come back to WGYM for the conclusion after 10pm. Live Swimming and Track usually occupied the 9pm hour.  NBC did an excellent job streaming all of the events and deserves praise for it, but they missed an excellent opportunity to boost the ratings for the 6 cable networks covering the games particularly NBC Sports Network.  NBCSN should be the main Olympic cable network going forward, imagine the ratings not to mention the ad revenue, NBCSN would have generated if the WGYM and MGYM competitions would have aired live on NBCSN in the afternoon and then still could have been re-packaged for NBC primetime.  There is a 13 hour time difference between New York and PyeongChang/Tokyo and if as expected NBC repeats the same formula as they did in Beijing, they will try and move the Alpine Skiing and Swimming events to start at 10am local time so they can air live in primetime on the east coast.   Most of the events in the next 2 Games will take place between 12am-12pm et so why not air EVERYTHING live overnight on one of your cable networks so the hard core fans don’t have to watch the action on their phones and laptops. It will boost the viewership for all their cable channels, and probably still won’t damage their primetime numbers.  Bottom line NBC is losing millions of dollars in ad revenue by sticking to the archaic notion of saving these events for primetime.
  2. AIR THE MARQUEE EVENTS LIVE ON THE TODAY SHOW! Much has been made of NBC CMO’s John Miller patronizing comments about female viewership.   If NBC truly believes that Olympic viewers will watch the Games regardless if they know the results or not, then they should air their marquee events (figure skating and gymnastics) LIVE during the “Today” show’s 4 hour window.  For decades “Today” and ABC’s “Good Morning America” have been fighting it out for morning show supremacy, why not use the Games to crush GMA for 2 weeks plus the ad revenue would be off the charts.  If as John Miller says “More women watch the games than men, and for the women, they’re less interested in the result and more interested in the journey. It’s sort of like the ultimate reality show and miniseries wrapped into one.” then why not beat GMA, make more money, appease the sports fans who want to watch it live, and then package it nicely for the primetime audience!
  3. CONVINCE THE IOC TO SPLIT UP TRACK & FIELD! Former NBC track analyst Dwight Stones was spot on about NBC’s woeful coverage of the Field events in Rio.  It was disgraceful and the viewers missed out on a lot of terrific performances.  Imagine how great it would have been to watch Pole Vaulter Sam Kendrick’s patriotic moment live on NBC!   Instead it went viral after the fact and did not receive nearly the coverage that moment deserved.   NBC should ask the IOC to split up Track & Field and move the Field events to week 1 of the Games and in a smaller venue.   Field events could be held in a smaller 20-25k soccer venue without a track to bring the audience closer to the action.  Imagine the electric environment a smaller venue would provide for these events, and putting them week 1 would give the Field events more exposure and prestige.   Bill Simmons and Malcolm Gladwell had an interesting discussion on Bill’s latest podcast, they proposed putting bleachers on the infield so runners could run in a more dynamic environment with fans on both sides of the track.  Moving Field events to a track less venue could make that happen, and possibly breathe some life into a sport that has completely fallen off the sports radar in recent years.
  4. DUMP SEACREST, BRING IN FALLON!  It’s no secret NBC Olympics late night was a colossal failure in Rio.  The show could not decide if it was a talk show or an outlet for airing additional sporting events and basically turned nto a hot mess.  Ryan Seacrest looked out of place in Rio and his interviews were excrutiatingly painful, you could tell the athletes were not excited appearing with Mr. Seacrest.  The late night show also created ZERO viral moments that are so important to attracting the younger demographic which the Olympics desperately needs. For the life of me, I can not figure out why NBC did not bring “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” to Rio.   Fallon is one of NBC’s most valuable properties, why would you not use him when you have your largest audience?!?  Imagine the games Jimmy could have played with the athletes and the crowds that would have gathered on Copacabana Beach to hear the Roots do their thing.  It would have created serious buzz and would have been “Must see TV”.  Hopefully NBC will not make the same mistake in the future.
  5. CREATE A NIGHTLY RECAP SHOW ON NBCSN! As I stated earlier NBC is underutilizing NBCSN during the Olympics. Awful Announcing Ken Fang’s praised Telemundo’s Late Night show that gave viewers a full recap of that day’s Olympic events.  Why can’t NBC create that same type of program for NBCSN?!?   The United States won 121 medals in Rio and I maybe saw half of them.   We desperately need a 60 minute “SportsCenter”-type highlight show that would show us everything we missed that day, and also call attention to the less popular sports that have zero chance of airing on the primetime telecast.  It can also provide an outlet for excellent video essays like this one on Olympic parents.
  6. BRING JIMMY ROBERTS BACK TO PRIMETIME! One of the most perplexing decisions NBC made was moving Jimmy Roberts’ “Olympic Moments” to the daytime show.   Mr. Roberts is an excellent storyteller and his “Moments” series are always an enjoyable watch.   The best feature I watched in Rio was Mr. Roberts’ profile of Dindin the penguin.  It deserved the primetime stage and so does Jimmy!
  7. MORE FEHERTY!  In September 2015, NBC scored a huge coup when they unexpectedly signed David Feherty away from CBS.  His “Feherty” interview show on the Golf Channel is a must watch. and he turned out to be a fantastic addition to the Olympic broadcast crew   Unfortunatley he was underutilized, Mr. Feherty’s one primetime appearance was a fantastic essay on the importance of the Olympic Games. It was extremely poignant and left you wanting more.
  8. GET THE ANNOUNCERS OUT OF STAMFORD, CT!  NBC announcers voiced 2o of the 32 sports not live in Rio but in Stamford, Ct.  This is not a good thing.  I understand the cost savings but it severely hurt the overall product.  Analysts were constantly waiting for replays to explain what was happening because they could not see it, and it led to many awkward moments during a broadcast.  During the Gold Medal Men’s Soccer match between Brazil vs Germany, Arlo White called play by play on site in Rio while analyst Kyle Martino was in Stamford.   Arlo and Kyle still provided a fine broadcast but it could have been so much better if Kyle could see the whole pitch.   Broadcast technology is rapidly improving and some sports networks are already using the internet which would allow the producer/director and entire event crew to stay in Stamford and permit the on-air talent to broadcast the event from site.  Hopefully NBC will invest in some form of that technology for 2018.
  9. SHOW MORE VARIETY! The “Olympic Gold Zone” channel modeled after the “NFL Red Zone” was a fantastic addition to the Rio coverage as they bounced from event to event, but during primetime coverage all the viewers basically saw was WGYM, Swimming, Track, Beach Volleyball and Diving.  NBC needs to show more sports during the primetime hour, especially events where Americans are doing well….instead of Track  and Swimming preliminary heats and semi-finals, NBC could have shown the USA Women’s Varsity 8 gold medal winning rowing race, Helen Maroulis’ stunning judo upset of three-time champ Saori Yashida, Claressa Shields defending her gold in boxing, the list goes on and on of events that were primetime worthy.  Instead we just saw a 15 second recap of these gold medal winning feats and then went right back to more non-medal heats in the pool or track. One thing about Americans, they will watch if the USA take homes the Gold! A perfect example of NBC’s lack of variety occured during their “Rio Gold” recap show that aired right before the Closing Ceremony. During the 60 minute program, Bob Costas and Al Michaels tossed to glossy recaps of Women’s Gymnastics, Swimming, Track & Field with additional homages to Kerri Walsh-Jennings, Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps.  I was shocked those were the only sports they covered, I kept waiting for a montage of other USA gold medal winners that never arrived! They say “variety is the spice of life” and NBC definitely needs to embrace that thinking for future Games.
  10. BRING BACK THE ODE TO JOY! Ken Fang had a good read on the music NBC utilizes for the Games, but one thing he failed to mention is the closing music NBC uses for the end of the Games.   As a kid growing up, I would always stay up to watch the end of the Closing Ceremony so I could see Jim McKay toss to the “Ode to Joy” closing montage.   It was “One Shining Moment” before “One Shining Moment” and was the perfect way to wrap up the Games.  NBC kept the “Ode to Joy” tradition going in 1992 and 1996 but then stopped it for some inexplicable reason. For the last few Olympiads, NBC has chosen to end their coverage with closing credits using the score from “Remember the Titans”.  It’s a fine piece of music but it just doesn’t carry the same weight and drama as the “Ode to Joy”.  I became very excited when NBC decided to run closing credits on Saturday night instead of after the Closing Ceremony.  NBC once again used the “Titans” score for the credits and it was well done as usual, but it got me pumped to see what they would do for Sunday night.  I was extremely disappointed with the final result.  NBC used the “Titans” music again for the second night in a row and while it was also well executed but is pales in comparison to the closing montages done by the  BBC, StarSports and especially CBC’s who used “Ahead by a Century” by “The Tragically Hip” on the night of their last ever concert.  I’m a traditionalist, I would love to see NBC go back to the “Ode” but if not they definitely need to come up with something fresh and new.

Overall, the technical innovations were off the charts, especially the pictures from the pool sky cam.  NBC also did an awesome job with the reaction shots of parents and teammates.  The Peacock Network did plenty of great things in Rio, but the primetime broadcast felt stale and late night was a disaster. NBC can blame the millenials all they want for the decline in ratings, but you need to give them a product worth watching and a shake up in the format should be on the table.

Thanks for reading my very first blog post, I hope you enjoyed it!  Please watch this site, I have tons more thoughts in my head!

Cheers!

The Idiot