Memorable

Every act of archiving or inscribing on a recordable media substrate, in both material and immaterial senses, is not an act of remembering but an act of forgetting (as Shannon entropy theory suggests). It is in this processual gap or passage that vectoral capital makes its play.

Courtesy of ESPN

Cultural Memory in Motion

NIN Scene MissingESPN Video Missing

Questioning

From Dave Zirin's Edge of Sports column:

Draft night ceased to be spectacle as usual when Adam Morrison from Gonzaga, the NCAA's leading scorer in 2006, was picked third by the Charlotte Bobcats. We learned in the post-draft interview that Morrison cried when Rage Against the Machine broke up. As ESPN's Stuart Scott needled him, Morrison in plain language defended his right to cry: a nice counter to the macho laws of jockocracy. But Morrison is more than a chronic weeper who sports a bizarre caterpillar mustache, and pageboy haircut straight out of Degrassi Junior High. He is also someone who has said that his heroes, in addition to Rage, are "Malcolm X, Karl Marx, and Che Guevara." Why Che? As he told USA Today, "Just the adversity he dealt with in life, what he did for small countries of the world as a whole. Standing up for lower people, instead of the top tier. That takes a lot of guts on the world level to do that. So that's what's drawn me to him." Morrison was also a Nader voter in 2004, and someone who is known for getting in raucous debates on the team bus on everything from the logic of capitalism to the merits of national health care. "I've been told that's what you are supposed to do in college," he has said. "It's the last time in your life, pretty much, when you get to question authority… You're going to be answering to somebody else for the rest of your life." When Gonzaga coach Mark Few advised players to attend church, Morrison stood up and wrote on Few's dry-erase board "Religion is the opiate of the masses." Let's hope Morrison realizes that this kind of questioning is something he doesn't have to forgo just because he’s employed by the NBA.

Dog and Dub, RIP

Selfishly, it has taken me this long to get around to this, my eulogizing the death of Ralph Wiley, the ESPN.com sportswriter who passed away June 13 at the age of 52. His impact was felt by many, as evidenced by the warm tributes at ESPN.

Basically, I don't have that much to say about him myself, because I didn't know him. I am only familiar with he and his gritty Road Dog alter ego through his Page 2 columns on ESPN.com. I don't even remember any of his writings from his nine-year Sports Illustrated tenure, though I'm sure I must have liked them, since it was my favourite magazine while growing up and I used to consume it voraciously from cover to cover when it arrived every week.

(Side note: our copy of SI almost always seemed to arrive late … we presumed that our mailman was taking it home for a quick read before delivering it, since it certainly seemed to have a used look when I finally pulled it out of the mailbox. A pox upon you mailman!, though maybe he liked Wiley as well…)

What I can say about Mr. Wiley is that he got it. He really understood the world, in my opinion, and could write about it in ways that made you want to keep reading, with a voice of experience and gravitas to back it up. We were actually quite dissimilar, in many ways, what with skin colour, age, life experience, etc. Yet he got it, and I would have loved for him to tell me that I got it as well.

You see, if and when I ever finished my book, the person I had most wanted to send a copy to was Ralph Wiley. I wanted to write a letter thanking him for how influential his writing had been, I wanted to present him with my take on the sports world and beyond, I wanted him to read it and nod approvingly. And I wanted him to tell me that I got it as well. Selfishly.

Fortunately, the enduring legacy of Ralph Wiley's writing is that it used sports as a lens through which to understand human beings, both in our quest for perfection and our inevitable legacy of imperfection. Dog and Dub understood the concepts like passion and honour, but they also acknowledged the selfishness and prejudice that lies within us all.

So I hope you will understand my selfishness in mourning your passing, Mr. Wiley: from now on I will no longer be moved to understand the world in your unique way, nor be stirred to the core during the process. But if I ever do get it, your work will have been a significant reason why. Yours in sport and life…

The Selling of History

Some notes while re-reading Hoskins, McFadyen, & Finn's (1997) Global television and film. An introduction to the economics of the business, from Oxford University Press:

The authors note that as technology-based barriers to entry continue to lower, power will shift from the traditional studios and major production centres (which have made major investments in fixed production facilities) to established creativity suppliers, such as the teams that produce athletic events. There will also be a movement away from centralized production centres, which challenges the massive investments made in sports stadia, if these stadia are viewed as media production centres.

The authors suggest that there will also be an increase in the value of sources of creativity and existing stocks of intellectual property. The primary source of creativity in sport media production is the athletes themselves, and we have already witnessed dramatic rises in athlete salaries over the past few years. Furthermore, we can expect "a sharp increase … in the value of existing libraries of programmes, especially those which can be supplied to services targeting narrow market niches" (p. 137). We have seen evidence of this already with ESPN's launch of ESPN Classic as well as pro league broadcasts of "classic" games, which may target an aging audience demographic at very low unit cost.

With another NBA season looming, fans like me are busy obsessing over questions like "What's the right round in fantasy to pick Kobe?" and "Should Damon Stoudamire change his first name to Cheech?" Still, I'm going to miss the off-season. Thanks to NBA TV and ESPN Classic, I spent my summer watching old games on the treadmill. As my TiVo skills progressed, I could bang out a two-hour game and 600 calories in 40 minutes. There wasn't a point all summer, not one, when I thought, "My god, I've gone insane."

– The Sports Guy

But we shouldn't just look to traditional communications media for libraries of programming. Nike's campaign for the new Air Zoom Huarache 2K4 provides an excellent example of a different medium that can go to the archives for content. The "Chronology" and "Evolution" spots show the last 30 years of their basketball shoes: the first is an audio ride through various basketball broadcasting milestones and the second shows an organic decomposition and renewal of their basketball products against a concrete urban backdrop. This cultural recycling can provide a competitive advantage for Nike against the flavour-of-the-week brands that challenge the giant for bits of market share.

Sound

On the Sunday night NFL tilt featuring Carolina and Atlanta, Panthers DE Mike Rucker was hurt on a play. ESPN showed the replay of the injury with isolated volume of Rucker's moanings. Certainly much different than how this injury was treated.