In search of spring: Out until next Monday

I can accept winter in Chicago. What I really hate is spring. It doesn’t come here until about June.

So I’m off in search of better weather. Will return for the start of the baseball season. Hopefully, they won’t have to use the Zamboni for the White Sox opener.

By the way, if you haven’t read it, Pat Jordan’s A False Spring is a classic.… Continue Reading

Sunday books: My review of basketball version of ‘Friday Night Lights’

This is the review I wrote for the Chicago Tribune’s Printers Row books section.

***********

The storyline seems the same, only change the sport from football to basketball, and the states from Texas to Kentucky.

Keith O’Brien’s new book, Outside Shot, is the basketball version of Buzz Bissinger’s highly-acclaimed, Friday Night Lights. Much like Bissinger’s book on football in Texas, O’Brien spent a year in a small town in Kentucky, documenting the obsession and  at times, the over-exaggerated importance of the local high school basketball team. However, it remains to be seen if Billy Bob Thornton also will play the coach in the movie version of Outside Shot like he did for Friday Night Lights. And let’s not talk about a potential TV series.

Indeed, the comparisons are inevitable between the two books. In O’Brien’s book, there … Continue Reading

Saturday flashback: Bill Walton truly was great at UCLA; 21 of 22 in ’73 NCAA Final

In the last few weeks, Bill Walton is being portrayed as this goof, eccentric uncle, prone to going over the line of ridiculous. So perhaps a little reminder is in order as to what he truly represented: Basketball at its finest.

Does it get any better than his performance in the 1973 NCAA Final? Walton went 21 of 22 from the field, scoring 44 points in UCLA’s win over Memphis. As a bonus, listen to the great Curt Gowdy on the call.

Here’s a profile of Walton and UCLA

Continue Reading

Peter King’s ship comes in: Signs multi-million dollar deal to stay with Sports Illustrated

Amid all the bad news about sports journalists losing their jobs, here’s the other side of the story: The big stars are making the big bucks.

Step up to the cash register, Peter King.

King agreed to a new deal to stay at Sports Illustrated. Even better, he will become editor of a his own NFL-centric site in the fall.

It helps to be in demand. According to Keith J. Kelly of the New York Post, King signed a three-year deal for in excess of $3 million.

Kelly reports:

SI would not confirm the dollar amount.

“I did consider five media options, including ESPN, but it came down to NBC or SI and loyalty to a place that has been so good to me since 1989 helped to make my decision to stay,” said King, reached on vacation in London.

Continue Reading

Big money coming for Big Ten: Basketball stands to hit TV jackpot with next deal

Not that Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany wants to rush time, but I’m fairly certain that he can’t wait for the 2016-17 basketball season.

That’s when the Big Ten’s TV deals for basketball conclude with ESPN and CBS. Based on what the new Big East got from Fox Sports 1 this week, you know Delany is anxious for his turn at the bargaining table.

The new Big East (comprised of the Catholic 7 and additions like Butler) landed a 12-year, $500 million with Fox Sports 1. It could rise to $600 million if the conference goes to 12 schools.

That’s a huge haul for a conference whose best TV attraction probably is Georgetown. Marquette, St. Johns, Villanova, Seton Hall, and even DePaul (if the Blue Demons can regain old glory) also have decent brand identification.

However, as a whole the … Continue Reading

Schaap E:60 story on paralyzed football player helps prompt legislation in Illinois

This is an example of how sports journalism can have an impact.

Last October, Jeremy Schaap told the tragic story of an Illinois high school player for E:60.

ESPN E:60 | “Busted Coverage” ~ Jeremy Schaap from Bluefoot Entertainment on Vimeo.

In 2000, Rocky Clark, 16, suffered two broken vertebrae and a devastating spinal cord injury in an Eisenhower High School football game. He was paralyzed from the neck down. His family was told by school officials Rocky’s medical costs would be covered by Eisenhower’s insurance. Full-time nursing, medication, supplies, and his own determination allowed Rocky to surpass life expectancy for most quadriplegics.

Then at age 26, ten years later, the insurance company sent a letter saying Rocky’s lifetime maximum of $5 million had been reached and coverage for his care was ended. Medicaid and limited state resources helped … Continue Reading

No pay for college players: Scholarship more than enough for playing a game

All hail the start of the NCAA tournament. Given that it is 16 degrees in Chicago on the first day of spring, that seems reason enough to stay inside and watch basketball all day.

News flash: The weather sucks in Chicago.

The start of the tournament will launch the inevitable cries that the players should be paid. I can hear the chorus now: The NCAA and colleges make big money off the three-week basketball feast and the poor players get nothing.

Pay the players!

Well, as a public service announcement, I’m here to say it can’t happen and it shouldn’t happen.

The argument is based on a myth: College athletic programs are rolling in cash.

Just the opposite is true. Most athletic programs lose money, and have to be subsidized by their university. These are hugely expensive endeavors, considering the … Continue Reading

Maxed out: You won’t see much more of Heat’s winning streak

If it seems like the Miami Heat have been featured in virtually every NBA telecast, it is because they have. Unfortunately, LeBron’s national show is about to end, just as the Heat make their run at the Los Angeles Lakers’ 33-game winning streak.

According to Austin Karp of Street and Smith’s Business Daily, the Heat are nearly at their league maximums for national TV during the regular season.

Karp writes:

ESPN is only scheduled to have one more Heat game this season — next Wednesday’s matchup against the Bulls (potential win No. 27) — while ABC will air the April 14 Bulls-Heat game. ESPN and ABC will then be maxed out on appearances by the Heat, as the nets will have shown the team 10 and five times, respectively. TNT also only has one scheduled Heat game left before

Continue Reading

Sports Emmy nominations are in: Did Skip Bayless get another nod?

There won’t be any wildfires this year. Skip Bayless, whose nomination in the outstanding studio analyst category in 2012 almost took down Twitter, did not get nominated this year.

However, plenty of other people did as the Sports Emmy nominations just came in. The big night is set for May 7 in New York.

Here’s the rundown of nominations by network groups:

NBC Sports Group: 58

ESPN (which includes ABC): 43

Turner Sports: 27

Fox Sports Media Group: 17

HBO: 17

NFL Network: 16

CBS (includes Showtime): 15

MLB Network: 9

Not surprisingly, NBC’s coverage of the London Olympics received the most nominations with 14. The NBA on TNT and Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel were next with six.

And the biggies:

Outstanding Sports Personality: Play-by-Play

Mike Breen ABC
Mike Emrick NBC / NBC Sports Network
Al Michaels NBC
Jim … Continue Reading

Fox Sports 1 to televise more than 100 games with new Big East deal

From my perspective, that’s the big takeaway from today’s official announcement of Fox Sports 1′s deal with the new Big East, aka, the Catholic 7.

It’s all about content. The deal provides the new network with more than 100 games. That’s a nice thing to have during the winter months.

I wouldn’t expect Fox Sports 1 to stop here. It will be active players for more college basketball rights as they become available.

*******

Here’s the official release:

he Big East Conference, boasting ten institutions with tradition-rich athletics programs and FOX Sports have entered into a landmark 12-year multi-platform media rights agreement beginning with the 2013-14 academic year. The announcement was made today during a press conference held in New York City attended by the presidents of the Big East’s member institutions, along with FOX Sports Co-President and COO Randy Freer … Continue Reading