Sunday, February 23, 2014

Jason Collins And When A Story Isn't A Story

Whether he plays or not, Jason Collins will make history when he suits up for the Nets tonight (right as I'm posting this he just checked in). No out gay man has played a major American team sport, and Collins will be the first. That barrier has fallen tonight.
Signing Jason Collins is a vintage Mikhail Prokhorov Nets move. The team, currently in eighth place in the craptastic Eastern Conference, is all sizzle only missing the sizzle. It’s an expensive collection of veterans - per Zach Lowe, the Nets owe more in luxury tax payments than any other team's payroll - led by a first-year coach and team legend, who couldn’t even win a personality battle with former head coach and future actuary Lawrence Frank, banishing him to preparing detailed reports in an assistant capacity. The only redeeming personality Kidd could conjure was in growing a kickass Bond villain beard. The team he has is undeniably skillful, and at one point featured five starters who possessed all pro talent, but that talent has not translated into victories. The owner is a Russian billionaire who, as of three years ago, did not know where his 200-foot mega-yacht was, and whose outer trappings really are that of a Bond villain. He does not attend the games (perhaps he misplaced his arena). The franchise, meanwhile, is nothing but a cynical branding exercise, which makes sense in a cynical branding exercise called Brooklyn. The aesthetic, in ever-chic black and white, is the literal embodiment of wealth yearning for meaning.

The Nets aren't the best thing money could buy, but certainly an example of money put to use. They just forgot one thing: the team is mind-numbingly dull to watch.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Protecting the Shield: Why the NFL really cares about Michael Sam

Sunday night, everyone found out what Michael Sam's friends, family, and teammates had known for some time--Sam is an openly gay football player. Sam's courageous decision brought much deserved admiration, but soon after being lauded, the ramifications on his career, specifically his draft status, became the focus of the story. This quick pivot away from Sam's decision is partially a product of our news cycle but was fueled by an SI news article, posted shortly thereafter titled, "How will news that Michael Sam is gay affect his NFL draft stock?" This article, full of off-the-record quotes from eight anonymous NFL executives and coaches, subtly explains exactly why Michael Sam's homosexuality will drop him in the NFL draft, costing him hundreds of thousands of dollars and hurting his chances of making an NFL roster.