Real Sports: Despite Lokomotiv tragedy, Russian hockey teams still using second-rate planes

Saturday afternoon, NBC showed a terrific documentary, Lokomotiv, on a Russia town’s efforts to rebuild after a plane crash that killed players and coaches in 2011.

Tuesday, the latest edition of HBO’s Real Sports (10 p.m. ET) has a follow-up from Bernard Goldberg that suggests the tragedy could happen again.

Here’s a clip:

The write-up from HBO:

Hockey’s Darkest Day. On Sept. 7, 2011, Russia’s Lokomotiv, one of the premier hockey teams in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), boarded a Soviet-era Yak-42 jet at a Yaroslavl airport to travel to a game in Minsk, the capital of Belarus. A few moments after lift-off, the chartered aircraft crashed about 500 yards from the runway, instantly killing 43 of the 45 passengers, including several NHL and Olympic Games veterans. The model of the aircraft carrying the team had a long history of problems and the charter company has one of the worst air safety records in the world. Now, two years after the worst aviation disaster in professional sports history, REAL SPORTS/Sports Illustrated revisits the families and officials who were interviewed in HBO’s original segment in 2012 and correspondent Bernard Goldberg learns more about the latest developments in the KHL’s aviation safety protocol. New interviews include Bethann Salei, whose husband Ruslan Salei, a former NHL player, was killed in the 2011 crash and KHL vice president Ilya Kochevrin.

DVR alert: Strong HBO Real Sports stories on marijuana use in NFL; heartbreaking bond between Boomer Esiason and Frank Deford

Real Sports always has quality stories, but tonight’s show (HBO, 10 p.m. ET) is especially compelling. It begins with Andrea Kremer’s report on marijuana and the NFL. The piece documents how players use pot to deal with the pain of playing such a brutal sport.

Kremer’s report makes the case that the NFL is wrong for banning marijuana. She shows the players still use it anyway.

From the story:

ANDREA KREMER: Is it something that’s talked about in the locker room?

CHRIS KLUWE: It’s not like, you know, there’s  the smoker’s corner where everyone goes– (laugh) and talks about, you know, “Hey what strain did you smoke last night?” It’s more you know,  guys will be talking and be like, “You know, yeah I got– you know, I smoked a bit last night and, yeah, it—did help me feel better.”  You know in the locker room when guys talked about it, it wasn’t “I’m– I’m gonna go get blazed and tear up the town.”  It was like, “Yeah, I smoked a bit and then I went and passed out on the couch ’cause I felt like crap after practice.”

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While Kremer’s story surely will have Roger Goodell answering questions about marijuana at his press conference next week, Frank Deford’s piece on Boomer Esiason was both heartbreaking and inspiring. Their bound: having children with Cystic Fibrosis.

After watching a screener by myself, I insisted on my wife seeing it.

The show finishes up strong with Bernard Goldberg’s story on the unlikely new owner of the Sacramento Kings.

HBO’s 24/7 on Winter Classic: Will anyone from Detroit-Toronto rival Bruce Boudreau?

After a year’s absence due to the player’s strike last year, HBO is back with its all-access series, 24/7 Red Wings/Maple Leafs: Road to the NHL Winter Classic. It debuts Saturday at 10 p.m. ET.

The series has been extremely popular, thanks largely to former Washington coach Bruce Boudreau’s affinity for the F-word. Here’s a reminder of vintage Boudreau.

Sean McIndoe of Grantland previewed this year’s cast.

(Pavel) Datsyuk appears to be the current odds-on favorite to emerge as the star. While he has never seemed like an especially outgoing character, teammates say he’s funny and engaging once you get to know him. He’s already one of the league’s most popular players — or at least one of its least-hated — so 24/7 could take him to another level.

And there’s a good chance it will; Datsyuk is the perfect candidate to be a reality TV breakout star. He has been an unlikely success story, going undrafted twice before the Wings finally nabbed him with the 171st pick in 1998. He overcame a language and culture barrier to slowly emerge as a star over his first three seasons, then erupted after the 2005 lockout to become one of the league’s top scorers. He’s a two-way player (he has won three Selkes as best defensive forward) and one of the cleanest competitors (he won the Lady Byng as most gentlemanly player3 four straight times).

Even his fellow players love him. He was the first overall pick in the most recent All-Star draft, and every player poll basically turns into the “We love Datsyuk” show. If that’s not enough, he’s also a hell of a dancer. And he tweets pictures of cats.

He has basically become the heir to Teemu Selanne’s “player who nobody says anything bad about ever” throne, and unless he spends every moment of his screen time casually forearming baby otters in the throat, he’s going to be the star of the series.


New HBO documentary reveals parents at worse in pushing kids in sports

This new HBO documentary from Peter Berg is one of the most chilling and unsettling films you ever will watch about sports.

State of Play (Wednesday, 9 p.m. ET) documents parents going overboard in trying to turn their children into superstar athletes. Trust me, what you see in the trailer is a just a fraction of the abuse these kids take from their parents.

These parents are so over-the-top, you almost think they must be actors. It doesn’t seem possible that an actual parent would act that way in front of cameras. Do they not know how bad they look?

There is a segment where a parent berates a young football player with his former wife driving the car. It was so difficult to watch that I eventually had to fast-forward through the passage.

Following the film, Berg does a panel discussion that includes Todd Marinovich, who definitely is qualified to talk about the topic.

All in all, I highly recommend you watch this film. Here are the details from HBO:

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HBO Sports and executive producers Peter Berg and Sarah Aubrey team up again for the innovative new documentary film series STATE OF PLAY. Presented by Film 44 in collaboration with Herzog & Company (HCO) and HBO Sports, the show takes on complex and multi-layered themes in sports, exploring their relationship to larger society. Each new edition spotlights a topic or person whose impact on the sports world is undeniable, opening with a brief overview followed by a 40-minute cinéma vérité documentary and concluding with an in-depth, 20-minute roundtable discussion of the issue with the filmmakers, subjects and guest experts. Emmy® nominee Berg (“Friday Night Lights”) serves as moderator of the panel discussion.

STATE OF PLAY: TROPHY KIDS, the first documentary of the series, debuts WEDNESDAY, DEC. 4 (9:00-10:00 p.m. ET/PT), exclusively on HBO. The film that opens the program features a compelling and engaging examination of the obsession a growing number of parents have with the scholastic athletic competition of their children.

Other HBO playdates: Dec. 4 (5:20 a.m.), 6 (11:30 p.m.), 8 (7:30 a.m.), 10 (3:15 p.m.), 13 (8:30 a.m., 7:30 p.m.), 14 (11:00 p.m.), 21 (4:30 p.m.), 26 (4:00 p.m., 5:25 a.m.) and 30 (12:30 a.m.)

HBO2 playdates: Dec. 6 (5:15 p.m.), 12 (1:00 a.m.), 16 (2:45 p.m., 8:00 p.m.), 19 (9:50 a.m., 11:00 p.m.) and 22 (10:35 a.m.)

The program will also be available on HBO ON DEMAND and HBO GO.

Immediately following the documentary segment of STATE OF PLAY: TROPHY KIDS, which focuses on four parents and five children, Berg hosts a thought-provoking roundtable discussion on the challenges of raising a child in today’s competitive sports environment.  Roundtable guests include sports psychologist Dr. Larry Lauer and former NFL quarterback Todd Marinovich, whose athletic journey, shaped by an ambitious father, led to the starting quarterback position at college football powerhouse USC and a first-round draft selection by the Oakland Raiders in 1991.

“I couldn’t be more excited to partner with HBO to give a voice to passionate, sports documentary filmmakers who have poured their own blood, sweat and tears into their work,” says Peter Berg.

 

Real Sports to air 200th show: Outstanding sports journalism on often unconventional subjects

Congratulations to Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel on its 200th show tonight. That’s no small feat in an age where you’re fortunate to get 10 shows.

Real Sports launched in 1995 and shows no sign of letting up. It has consistently delivered among the best in sports journalism on a variety of subjects, conventional and more often not. That holds true for the 200th show.

Here is preview of Bernard Goldberg’s report on the upcoming Olympics in Sochi. “A festival of corruption,” according to a Russian critic.

Here’s the rundown for Tuesday’s show:

Now in its 19th season, REAL SPORTS WITH BRYANT GUMBEL, TV’s most honored sports journalism series and the only sports program recognized with a prestigious 2012 George Foster Peabody Award, presents more enterprising features and reporting when the show’s landmark 200th edition, available in HDTV, debuts TUESDAY, NOV. 19 (10:00-11:00 p.m. ET/PT), exclusively on HBO.

Other HBO playdates: Nov. 19 (2:45 a.m.), 22 (10:0 a.m., 5:30 p.m.), 24 (8:00 a.m.), 27 (1:30 p.m.) and 30 (11:00 a.m., 1:00 a.m.), and Dec. 4 (12:30 a.m.), 6 (7:30 p.m.) and 9 (4:30 p.m.)

HBO2 playdates: Nov. 20 (11:15 p.m.), 26 (1:10 p.m., 9:00 p.m.) and 29 (7:30 p.m., 1:50 a.m.), and Dec. 3 (9:45 a.m., 6:20 p.m.) and 7 (2:15 p.m.)

HBO On Demand® availability: Nov. 25-Dec. 16

Segments include:

*Putin’s Olympics. With fewer than 100 days until the opening ceremonies for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, controversy looms large in the host city of Sochi, Russia. Seven years ago, Russian president Vladimir Putin captured the rights to the 2014 Winter Olympics after promising to spend $12 billion to hold the Games in this sub-tropical seaside resort town in the southern part of the country, which is the warmest location in Russia. Today, however, the latest reported estimate of the Games’ cost is $50 billion, which makes the Sochi Olympics the most expensive in history, allegedly due in part to bribery and cronyism. REAL SPORTS correspondent Bernard Goldberg travels to Sochi for a behind-the-scenes look at the preparations and speaks to individuals who allege there are massive corruption schemes tied to these Games.

Producers: Josh Fine, Tim Walker.

*Shaw Time. On June 26, 1993, the mother, father and sister of former NBA journeyman Brian Shaw were killed in a car accident. (Shaw was later awarded custody of his 11-month-old niece and namesake, Brianna, the only survivor of the crash.) At his side during this rough time was former teammate and best friend Reggie Lewis, but tragedy struck again a month after the accident when Lewis died from cardiac arrest. Now, more than 20 years after that fateful summer, Shaw, 47, is enjoying his first season as Denver Nuggets head coach, following successful stints as an assistant for the Los Angeles Lakers and Indiana Pacers. In this REAL SPORTS/Sports Illustrated collaboration, correspondent Bernard Goldberg meets with the Oakland native, who details how the heartache he felt and the lessons he learned guided him to where he is today.

Producer: Chapman Downes.

*Live Mascots. Most, if not all, big-time college sports programs are represented by a symbol of the team’s moniker. Some universities even go to great lengths to have a live animal represent school pride. REAL SPORTS host Bryant Gumbel explores the wild world of live animal mascots and their role in collegiate sports programs. From million-dollar habitats to enduring adulation, these mascots are accustomed to a life more akin to royalty and superstar athletes than zoo animals. Gumbel meets several of the most distinguished live animal mascots, including Ralphie the Buffalo from the University of Colorado, Tom the Tiger from the University of Memphis and the dog Reveille from Texas A&M University.

Producer: Jason Samuels.

 

Icons: Real Sports on Reggie Jackson; NFL Network examines life of Pat Summerall

A couple of sports icons get examined tonight.

Bryant Gumbel has an interview with Reggie Jackson on the latest edition of Real Sports (HBO, 10 p.m. ET)

A Football Life: Pat Summerall (NFL Network, 9 p.m. ET)

The rundown:

As a player and broadcaster, Pat Summerall’s football life spanned more than 50 years. His passion for sports encompassed 82 years. His voice is eternal.

NFL Network’s Emmy-nominated series A Football Life continues Tuesday, October 22 at 9:00 PM ET with a profile of Pat Summerall – the voice of the NFL.  The one-hour special chronicles Summerall’s transformation from an athlete to broadcaster and details the personal battles and professional challenges he endured along the way.

After a successful career in the NFL as a kicker and with a little luck and a lot of talent, Summerall would fall into sports broadcasting.  Behind a transcendent voice, Summerall developed a public persona which touched millions of viewers, influenced hundreds of this peers and became synonymous with Thanksgiving. Quite simply, through the years, his presence signified the magnitude of a sporting event.

Featured stories in Pat Summerall: A Football Life:

Uphill Battle: Mentally, Summerall lived a fractured childhood. With his parents splitting-up before he was born, Summerall would live with his aunt and uncle as a boy before moving back in with his father. Physically, he was born with a club foot, which doctors said would prevent him from participating in athletic activities. Foreshadowing the rest of his life, Summerall endured.In high school, he was an accomplished football and basketball player which culminated in receiving a football scholarship to the University of Arkansas as a tight end. An injury would end his days as an offensive specialist, but Summerall was undeterred. He transformed into a kicker and, once again exceeding expectations, he would go on to kick in the National Football League and participate in some of the most memorable games in league history.

Voice of Authority:  After starting out as a radio broadcaster, Summerall would eventually work his way into television and his second career took off. If there was a sporting event, Summerall had the talent to broadcast it. By the time he called his final game, Super Bowl XXXVI, he would call over 250 PGA Tour tournaments, numerous boxing and tennis matchups, a myriad of events and studio shows.

The Greatest Broadcasting Duo in Sports TV: When John Madden left the sideline, television executives couldn’t wait to put him in the booth. However, the perfect partner for the former Raiders head coach with wasn’t as definitive. In 1981, after a few years as an analyst, CBS would pair Madden with two different play-by-play announcers – Pat Summerall and Vin Scully. When the year was complete, CBS executives, after much debate, paired the former Super Bowl-winning head coach with Summerall on a full-time basis and, unknown at the time, the greatest duo in sports broadcasting history was born. Summerall and Madden spent more than 20 years together, with two different networks, and broadcasted the NFL’s biggest games.

Relationship with Tom Brookshier:  Before he was teamed with Madden, Summerall worked with Tom Brookshier. In addition to being the No. 1 broadcast team on CBS Sports, the two cohorts were best of friends.  Their camaraderie in the booth was palpable and resulted in seamless broadcasts. However, eventually their antics outside of calling the games became a concern for CBS executives. The demise of the popular duo is chronicled in the documentary.

Greatest Achievement: Throughout his successful professional career, Summerall fought a personal demon: alcoholism. Years of drinking would put a toll on his family life and on his career. After years of battling the disease, Summerall finally sought help after an intervention was conducted by his friends and family. After leaving the Better Ford Center, Summerall would remain sober for the rest of his life – his greatest achievement.

 

Your next Hard Knocks team: 49ers; Harbaugh says he is open to doing series

Jim Harbaugh definitely will be getting a call from HBO and NFL Films during the off-season.

From Taylor Price of 49ers.com:

Jim Harbaugh likes to keep things close to the vest.

But that doesn’t mean the 49ers coach is against his team being featured on NFL Films’ “Hard Knocks” reality show.

“If that’s something we were in position to do, then we’d certainly do it,” the 49ers coach said on Wednesday.

And more.

He also understands that the popularity of the show will keep it around for a long time.

“There’s going to be teams that are going to be on ‘Hard Knocks’ and that seems like a popular thing and something people want to see,” Harbaugh said. “So, I don’t see it going away. You could stamp your feet and say I don’t want to do it, but I don’t know how productive that is for anybody concerned.”

Harbaugh said the 49ers haven’t been “tempted” to do the show during his three seasons with the club.

But he did admit to watching the reality show.

“I find it quite entertaining,” Harbaugh said.

Harbaugh definitely would be entertaining on Hard Knocks. However, don’t pencil in the 49ers just yet.

Under the new criteria, teams that make the playoffs two years in a row can’t be forced to do the show.

 

 

A 12-year-old’s memories of sitting next to Marty Glickman: “I would have let you call the 3rd quarter”

As I wrote earlier this week, HBO is airing a new documentary, Glickman, on Monday at 9 p.m. ET. It is a terrific film about one of the legendary voices in sports history. And there’s much more to the story that involves encounters with Antisemitism.

An old friend, Mike Leiderman, shared a story of a wonderful experience he had with Marty Glickman. Mike is a long-time Chicago journalist, sportscaster and producer. He runs his own media firm, Leiderman Productions.

Leiderman, though, grew up in New York. At the age of 12, he attended a memorable Knicks game.

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The quick story: My uncle Joe had a contact somehow and I got to sit next to Marty when he did a Knicks-Minneapolis Lakers game from the old 69th Regiment Armory in NY in the mid ’50s. I must have been 12 or 13. I knew it was a big deal, but didn’t realize how big it was. John and Jim Paxson’s dad played for the Lakers and the Knicks stunk – the Kenny Sears, Willie Naulls, Carl Braun, Richie Guerin Ray Felix Knicks.

Still, they were my home team and I was right next to them. Marty was an absolute prince. He set up a chair for me courtside, between him and his broadcast partner, Les Keiter (another legend in NY – he did the “re-creates” of Giants’ games in NY after they moved to San Francisco. “Here comes Willie around third. Here comes the ball and — HE BEAT THE BALL!! HE BEAT THE BALL!!)

But I digress.

The broadcast table was right next to the team benches and my little pre-bar mitzvah ears heard words from the coaches I was familiar with, but knew never to use around my parents. The coach – I think it was a guy named Vince Boryla – would curse at his players during each time out. Some of it must have carried into the microphones, especially since there was what I called “an underflow crowd” in the stands that afternoon. (In those NBA days, the Knicks would have to play at the Armory several times a season when Madison Square Garden was booked for the circus or rally or whatever. I still smell the horses in the Armory)  Finally, after one particular tirade, I remember Marty saying – in his usual understated tone: “Since our broadcast position is right next to the benches. you can hear lots of color coming from the huddles. (Pause) Sometimes too much color.”

Beautiful.

As the game went on, I thrilled to Marty’s calls, although I must admit I was equally taken by being so close to the action.  Marty, meanwhile, couldn’t have been nicer to a kid he didn’t know from Adam. Afterwards, I thanked him profusely in my early teen falsetto and told him I’d learned so much and hoped to be a sports play by play announcer one day.  “You should have told me that earlier,” he said with a wink. “I would have let you call the 3rd quarter.”  To this day, I believe he would have.

I was able to touch base with Marty several times as an adult; he was Gail Sierens’ coach when she debuted as the first female NFL play by play voice in Kansas City for a Chiefs-Seahawks game. (I covered for Entertainment Tonight.) Again, I introduced myself and whether Marty remembered our interaction decades before, he acted happy to hear about it.  Shortly before his death, he spoke at Spertus and talked about the 1936 Olympics and how he and Sam Stoller were dropped from the USA relay team at the last minute because of their being Jewish – not by Hitler, but by Avery Brundage and his band of anti-Semites on the US delegation. (Brundage was its head in Berlin before moving on to pollute the entire Olympic movement years later.)  The US Olympic Committee (or was it the IOC? doubt that) did give Marty his Gold Medal shortly before he died – as an apology. He told me it meant a lot to him, though.

Like I said, I can’t wait for the documentary.  I’ve been talking about him in my speeches for decades. He was special – a shaper of the craft and a great influence on me as well as all those “famous” voices.

 

New HBO documentary: ‘Glickman’ finally places legendary announcer in national spotlight

My latest National Sports Journalism Center column is on Glickman, the upcoming HBO documentary on Marty Glickman. I had a chance to talk to the film’s producer, James Freedman, who worked for Glickman when he was 17.

For those of you who never heard of his story and his obstacles with Anti-Semitism, read on. And I highly recommend you watch this film.

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When I was coming up as a sports journalist in Chicago during the 80s, I only had a vague notion of Marty Glickman. I always had heard he was an iconic, trend-setting pioneer in sports broadcasting.

Yet in the days before cable and satellite radio, I had no real idea of why New Yorkers held him in the same reverence as they do in Los Angeles for Vin Scully, or why he was considered one of the most influential announcers ever to sit behind a mic.

A new documentary, Glickman (HBO, Monday, 9 p.m. ET), provides the answers. The film’s producer, James L. Freedman, who was a producer on Glickman’s WNEW radio show when he only was 17, wanted to give a true legend the national exposure his life deserved.

“When I moved to the West Coast, I was stunned nobody ever heard of him,” Freedman said. “If you grew up in New England during the latter part of the 20th Century, he was part of the soundtrack of your life. His story was so remarkable, I want people to learn about Marty Glickman from this film.”

Indeed, Glickman lived a truly incredible life. He gained notoriety first as an athlete. He was an accomplished sprinter, earning a spot on the 1936 U.S. Olympic team, and a star football player at Syracuse. None other than Jim Brown, a pretty fair running back Syracuse, praised his play for the Orangeman in the film.

Glickman eventually went into broadcasting. He basically invented the play-by-play template for basketball with his work on college games and the Knicks. He also was a memorable radio voice for the New York Giants and later the Jets. Along the way, his style and hands-on mentoring had a direct and profound impact on Marv Albert, Bob Costas, Mike Breen, Charlie Steiner and countless others.

However, Glickman had to overcome several obstacles due to Anti-Semitism.  He and fellow Jewish sprinter, Sam Stoller, were knocked of the 400-meter relay team during Adolf Hitler’s Games in Berlin. While it never was stated, it is clear top U.S. officials didn’t want to offend the dictator with the possibility of Jews winning a gold medal.

Later when the NBA signed a national TV contract with NBC in the early 60s, a deal Glickman helped arrange, he was passed over to be the lead voice. Again, it seems likely that being Glickman being Jewish was a factor in the decision.

Yet the film shows that Glickman didn’t let Anti-Semitism suffocate him. Instead, he marched on.

“To me, the heart of the film is what happens to an 18-year-old when he faces racism?” Freedman said. “Not only did he not allow it to beat him, he used sports as a vehicle to transcend all the racism he faced.”

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And there’s more in the entire post at NSJC.