Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Race car driver Robby Gordon says he won't compete against Danica Patrick because her small stature gives her an unfair advantage

Race car driver Robby Gordon says he won't compete against Danica Patrick because her small stature gives her an unfair advantage: "'I guess driving around in circles must have made Gordon a bit dizzy because his reasoning sucks.'"

I'm 130lbs wet...if I'm lucky. What would Gordan say if I were to train for and race in the next Indy 500? I'm not a fan, nor have I ever been, of the Indy 500 or any other motor sport, but I did see the final 20 laps of this year's Indy race. I was at a Chili's enjoying a babyback rib/chicken meal and a television directly in front of me had the race on. I watch the news in the morning and SportsCenter at night, I knew about Danica Patrick's presence in this year's race. I saw her interviewed. First thought: cute. Second thought: Dan Patrick's sister? Did I question her ability to race? No. Since the emergence of women sports - most notably the WNBA - women are completely capable to play the same sports as men. They have two legs, two arms, and a desire to be the best.

I grew up in a small town in central Texas. In a state that takes its football as seriously as we do, anything extraordinary should be front-page, color-photo, material on the next morning's sports page. Extraordinary does not mean, "out of the ordinary." But, when I was playing 8th-grade football, we had just such an exercise. A 7th-grade girl wanted to play on Thursday nights with her male peers. After numerous school council debates, the school board allowed it - mostly as a preventative measure to avoid an un-winnable lawsuit. The 7th-grade boys were embarrassed and laughed it off at her expense. As an 8th-grader, I looked forward to it.

During Wednesday practice, it was a ritual that the 7th-grade and 8th-grade teams would scrimmage in preparation for Thursday's games. It was a no-holds-barred scrimmage - the 8th-graders out to prove that we were older, stronger, and better...the 7th-graders just tried to "live" and get some respect. During the scrimmages that year, she was always at the top of our "kill-list." If she wanted to play with the boys, then she had to take her hits like a boy. The other schools would not hold back, so, we definitely wouldn't.

I admit, I hit her with as much gusto as my little frame could muster, but it wasn't because I didn't think she belonged. I did it because I didn't want to be shown-up by a girl. That's a guy thing. It still exists in society now. No guy wants to be out-performed by a woman. But, it's not limited to girls. I knew then, as I know now, that someone is always out for your spot. If you allow yourself to slack, then you'll get passed by and sat on the bench. And no one is as dangerous as someone out to prove something. And that's exactly where she was. Her parents fought hard to give her the opportunity to play, she wasn't going to let them down and, more than that, she wanted to prove that it could be done.

She sat the bench. She only played a small number of minutes. But, she opened the door. She played which is all she wanted to do. As far as Danica Patrick is concerned, she did the same and she did well. When I first started watching the race, she was leading with only a dozen or so laps to go. Then there was the accident and the opportune moment for Dan Wheldon to make his move. (maybe a bit shady if one were to watch that sequence of events through the eyes of a conspiracy theorist) She ended up 4th. Not a bad showing for a girl...hell, she was the top-placing rookie on the course. I think she got her minutes.

If women can compete with men at that level, then they should be allowed the opportunity. If Robby Gordon wants to sit out future races because of her unfair advantage, then let him. Everyone else will worry about how they can compete and beat her in the next race. They will adapt. They will compete. Not to be better than "the girl," but to be the Best.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

The Future of TV...in the hands of Professional Sports

Check out the latest Entertainment Weekly and you'll find the top slots are reserved for TV dramas and reality shows. With these shows dominating the market - and CNN and FoxNews picking up the sloppy, yet particular seconds - why would anyone come out and say the end of television is near?

With no proof, validation, or internet link research, I'm going to say the future lies in the hands of the sports media. Sure, the reality-like TV shows control the market, but blogs such as BoingBoing, Gawker, and Kottke which run insightful, day-after coverage of each program, post highlights from the previous night's programming for those without TiVo or a DVR. Currently, there's a buzz that bloggers are going to be the end of the newspaper. I think television needs to be more concerned.

I'm a post-season sports nut. For the last decade I've had to juggle a full-time college curriculum and a full-time job to foot the bills for the roof I sleep under after every night of coming home from work at 11pm to study for a test the next morning at 9am. After the Fall semester, I relax to football play-off games, after the Spring semester (actually during, but that's a whole different complaint) I recline to the NBA playoffs. Growing up in Texas, where Sunday afternoon sports is akin to learning how to drive with Dad on rural backroads, I've followed and cheered for Texas teams. I'll always be a Cowboys fan, if for no other reason than the departure of the Houston Oilers. My in-state basketball preferences always fluctuate.

Originally, that is after the they picked up David Robinson, I was a San Antonio Spurs fan. Then, I became a Houston Rockets fan during the Hakeem Olajuwan, Clyde Drexler, Sam Cassell, Robert Horry championship years. After that, I reverted back to the Spurs with the emergence of the Twin Towers - David Robinson and Tim Duncan - and have been with the team in spirit since before their first championship in 1999. I've watched the Spurs dominate and get dominated. I've sported their spirit, even after moving to DFW, where anti-Maverick sentiments can get you hung. The Spurs are more my team because they play good, fundamental basketball. It's not flashy and you won't see many highlights on Sports Center, but they win with it.

I followed the Spurs briefly during the opening games of the season, but soon, school and Christmas in retail would claim their worst on my available attention span. Now that school is finally out for the semester, I'm able to follow their run through the playoffs. I sat through the Denver and, now, the Seattle series' and I only have one thing to say regarding the coverage: TNT. (Now, take out the commentary and replace with a scrolling line of stats at the bottom of the screen, what else could be more perfect?)

ESPN's commentary on the two Spurs' playoff games has been boring, unemotional, and elite. And TNT, despite my preference of them to ESPN, highlights former basketball personalities instead intelligent commentators. Take the commentators out, and you have a boring game. But, have all the same information at your disposal that the commentators for each network have at their's (not an unreasonable idea considering the availability of information on the web) and the Joe Public at home can watch the game, decipher the stats, and enjoy the playoff experience without having to hear some ex-NBA star comment on every coaching strategy that most viewers already know about.

Soon.

After this revolution, the reality TV thing will die-off, replaced by RSS feeds, and the local/cable news is already being replaced by internet-savvy pundits looking for the millions of sites and human voices the internet has to offer that television does not.

Television and radio have stricter FCC regulations because people cannot control what they hear the minute they turn each device on. With newspapers and magazines, the reader has this control and can decide what to read before they are exposed to it. This ideal makes newspapers, magazines and the Internet a lot more alike than their television/radio counterparts. And it's because of this, television and radio will see their end long before the print/Internet media see theirs.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

On TV

On TV: "Post TV Columnist Lisa de Moraes takes a look at what's on the tube in a fast-paced give and take about reality, non-reality, cable and you name it."

For those that care.

For me, it's disturbing. I got caught up with MTVs Real World one afternoon - I had just finished finals after a grueling Spring semester and had my first real day off in almost 6 months. I wanted to vegitate in front of the television for a few mind-numbing hours and stumbled onto the show. Four hours later, I peeled my ass out of the couch, dusted myself off, and tried to remember the best route from the couch to my bathroom less than 20 feet away. The show sucked me in. I started caring about each of the personalities on a personal level. I didn't know these people and had I actually shared a bar-like atmosphere with any or all of them, they would have merely been obstacles between me and the bartender.

The same happened during the first season of the Apprentice. I'd race home from classes to catch the show. I wouldn't change clothes, go to bathroom, or get anything to eat or drink unless it was a commercial break and only if I knew I could be back when the show resumed. After that first season ended, I waited and waited for the second season. I even contemplated buying the first season on DVD to watch during the interim. As it turned out, when the second season-opener aired, I was at work. I'd missed it. But I didn't know until a few weeks later when Appentice buzz found its way onto the covers of US and People that always end up sprawled out on our breakroom table like high school prom dates. I realized then, that I didn't care.

Chuck Klosterman wrote an enlightening essay in his book, Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, concerning America's fascination with reality TV. He introduces an idea that reality TV characters really have no true personality, just a culmination of generic traits such as African American, White-Collar, or Gay. More interestingly, he challenges that our personalities - by our, he means the general populus - have, likewise, become generic. I don't know how true that sentiment is, but I definately know that I judge, however right or wrong that might be, people by their most obvious traits - clothing, swagger, and conversation style.

I do the same when I see someone reading magazines such as US and People. They always seem too interested in knowing celebrity gossip, as if the readers actually know the celebrities on a personal level. Entertainment news baffles me. It's a cult of sorts; a group of people following the every movement and public show of affection (or something that could be construed as affection by photographers, reporters and the papparazzi) as if it was something really, really important.

I'm all about escapism, especially in this fucked-up world we live in and I try not to mentally damn people when I see them reading something I wouldn't read myself...I've always tried to remind myself that "it takes all types" to create this melting pot we call home. If they wish to read that, it's a free country, they are more than welcom to it. I'll never deny it because at least they're reading something, but the minute rumors start circulating about a split between Mathew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker (because, inevitably, it seems, as soon as rumors start making the front cover, it's only a matter time before the split actually occurs even if the rumors were false to begin with), I will open my mouth. Mathew Broderick symbolizes so much to under-privaleged, inteligent, genuine guys. He's an idol of sorts, reminding us that so long as we say our prayers at night, good things can happen. Entertainment magazines, beware, you do not want to fuck that up.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Sofa Seating

Article One on TV and Film