Weekly media notes version 12.23.15: The way we were, and what may become of us

2015reviewhero-w855h425What’s planned for Sunday’s media column:

A look back on the most compelling Southern California sports media moments of 2015, and some educated looking forward on how they could affect what’s coming up in 2016 and beyond.

What’s worth putting out there at this point:

Screen-shot-2014-01-22-at-2.34.20-PM== Jason Benetti, Rod Gilmore and Shelley Smith have the ESPN call of the UCLA-Nebraska meeting in the Foster Farms Bowl from Santa Clara (Saturday, 6:15 p.m.)
http _static.silverchalice.co_ci-prod_2015_12_14_20151214184819_1_fosterfarms_jpgPay attention to Benetti: His ability to forge a career in sports play-by-play despite a mild form of cerebral palsy is nothing if not inspiring.
He was born 10 weeks premature, contracted a virus and bronchopulmonary dysplasia, a lung disorder that required the aid of an oxygen machine. The result was an issue with his motor skills that led to surgery on his legs and going to second grade in a wheelchair.
“Nowadays, if you tune into a game I’m doing, you may first see my lazy left eye, a byproduct of my cerebral palsy,” he said in a recent CNN first-person story. “But through the creation of the Internet, you can know immediately that I’m not intentionally looking away from you. I care about you and what you think of the game I’m covering. And you, though you may not know it, are changing your perception of the world by watching.”
From an ESPNFrontRow.com interview, Benetti, a Syracuse graduate who also has a law degree from Wake Forest and joined ESPN in 2011, explains: “The daily difficulties are really limited to a misstep here and a stumble there. Some people who meet me may note that my shoes are more worn than the average person’s because of my gait. I’ve chosen a profession in which the way I walk doesn’t directly affect my performance.”
Another piece on Benetti from the Washington Post notes that Benetti tells his student he now teaches at Syracuse that first impressions matter, and he still has a difficult time when those in stores or at airports treat him as if he’s lost or hard of hearing, and try to put him in a wheelchair.
“It used to get me mad,” he said. “But now, I understand, I need them to go home and think about the next time they see someone who looks different, just talk normal, have a regular conversation, don’t make assumptions.”

== More college football bowl highlights in the post-Christmas/pre-New Year’s Day games: Continue reading “Weekly media notes version 12.23.15: The way we were, and what may become of us” »

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Play It Forward Dec. 21-27: You’re dreaming of a Very Kobe Christmas … but it could get ugly

 On RedBubble.com, this Kobe Bryant commemorative Christmas "Ugly Sweater" is offered up for $28. T-shirts, V-necks, hoodies and baseball sleeve versions are also available.

On RedBubble.com, this Kobe Bryant commemorative Christmas “Ugly Sweater” is offered up for $28. T-shirts, V-necks, hoodies and baseball sleeve versions are also available.

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:
NBA: CLIPPERS at LAKERS
Details/TV: Staples Center, Friday at 7:30 p.m., ESPN, TWC SportsNet, Prime Ticket:
KOBE-BRYANT-VS-KNICKS-CHRISTMAS-DAY-5One last time to experience a Very Kobe Christmas. That is, if his injured shoulder heals in time. Checking the NBA record books twice, it says Kobe Bryant has the all-time mark for most games played on Dec. 25 (15) and most points scored (383, better than Oscar Roberton’s 377). That’s something LeBron James might ask Santa about for the future. Yet the last time Bryant was healthy enough to actually make an appearance on this holiday was in 2012, a 100-94 win over the visiting New York Knicks, when he scored 34. He didn’t play in the Christmas game last year at Chicago, because he was “resting.” He missed the 2013 Christmas day game at home against Cleveland because of a bruised knee. Now come the Clippers, who’ve knocked off the Lakers in 11 of the last 12 meetings, and Bryant missing the last Lakers’ game in OKC – the aftereffects of a dunk?
As for those who may use this event as a Christmas gift – it’s already been documented that Chris Brown wants to join ex-girlfriend Rihanna courtside with their daughter Royalty to experience this Kobefest – one may find the prices extremely steep. TheStreet.com reports that the average ticket is more than $700 a pop, with $200 just to get in the door. What’s the payoff?
Cleveland-Cavaliers-Golden-State-Warriors-2015-NBA-Finals-Game-3Also on Christmas Day:
New Orleans at Miami, 9 a.m., ESPN
Chicago at Oklahoma City, 11:30 a.m., Channel 7
Cleveland at Golden State, 2 p.m., Channel 7
San Antonio at Houston, 5 p.m., ESPN
Also this week:
Lakers at Denver (Tuesday, 6 p.m., TWC SportsNet), home vs. Oklahoma City (Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. TWC SportsNet) and at Memphis (Saturday, 3 p.m., TWC SportsNet).
Clippers home vs. Oklahoma City (Monday, 7:30 p.m. Prime Ticket) and at Utah (Saturday, 6 p.m., Prime Ticket).

THE REST OF THE WEEK:
UCLA’s Foster Farm Bowl bowl game appearance against Nebraska on the day after Christmas (Saturday, 6:15 p.m.) is at the site of Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara … Oakland hosts San Diego in what could be the Raiders’ last game in the Bay Area (Thursday, 5:25 p.m., NFL Network ) … Santa Anita’s Winter Meeting opens as usual (Saturday, noon) … UCLA (vs. McNeese State, Tuesday, 8 p.m., Pac-12 Network) and USC (vs. Southern Illinois-Edwardsville, Monday, 8 p.m., Pac-12 Net and vs. Lafayette, Wednesday, 7 p.m., Pac-12 Network) close out the non-conference basketball schedule … More at this link.

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Sunday media: Why ESPN’s Merril Hoge may not rush out Christmas morning to buy a ticket to ‘Concussion’

1220_SPO_LDN-L-MEDIA-1220Will Smith will be up on the giant theater screen this Christmas weekend, portraying Dr. Bennet Omalu in “Concussion.”

It’s Russell Crowe as Dr. Jeffrey Wigand from “The Insider.”
Maybe Julia Roberts as “Erin Brokovich.”
Consider a wisp of Humphrey Bogart, playing a news reporter who discovers that boxing matches are fixed in “The Harder They Fall” and he tries to unfix them.

Retired NFL player Merril Hoge testifies before a House committee on brain injuries in 2009. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Retired NFL player Merril Hoge testifies before a House committee on brain injuries in 2009. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Here’s where Merril Hoge might want to step in and do his own whistleblowing.

The former Pittsburgh Steelers running back and ESPN “Sunday NFL Countdown” studio analyst has yet to see a screening of the film, and isn’t sure he wants to.

“I might have to just to see, with my own eyes, the inconsistencies and fabrications,” Hoge says. “But that’s Hollywood. They can take those kind of liberties.”
More on this story at this link.

ALSO:
== A well constructed review of “Concussion” by Michael Hurley of CBS Boston
== Time magazine review of “Concussion”
== Why ESPN’s Adam Schefter endorses seeing the PBS “League of Denial” instead of “Concussion.”
== Reaction from former NFL players who saw a screening of “Concussion”
== Will Smith tells CBS This Morning why making “Concussion” was a conflict for him: “I’m a football dad. And my son, Trey, played for four years at Oaks Christian, which is a football powerhouse. And it was just one of the most beautiful times in my life, as a parent — the bonding, the excitement for the family, the Friday night lights, all that. I loved it. So, you know, when I received this screenplay, I was really conflicted. I really don’t want to be that guy, the guy who reveals that playing football could potentially cause brain damage.”

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It’s Out of the Question: Why doesn’t Pete Rose take his duel with MLB to FanDuel? Or has he crapped out?

1219_SPO_LDN-L-QUESTIONS-1219Pete Rose went do-or-die and rolled the dice again.
What did he have to lose this time, except more of his dignity?
Putting every bit of hustle behind it, Rose must have been convinced the odds were in his favor of finally having an MLB lifetime ban lifted, one directly related to his longtime denial and eventual admittance that he bet on games when he managed the Cincinnati Reds.
There’s a new pit boss at the table, someone whom Rose could try to wheedle and hoodwink, hoping he didn’t have too many preconceived notions about his crossing-the-line past.
And the sugar cubes came up …
Wouldn’t Rose have a better chance cheating at a game of Yahtzee with Bernie Madoff as the latter awaits a parole hearing?
More questions that beg for answers at this link …

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Weekly media notes version 12.17.15 — A ‘Concussion’ spin that keeps reverberating

The 2002 death of Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Fame center Mike Websters is the starting point for the movie "Concussion," which opens in theaters on Christmas Day. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

The 2002 death of Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Fame center Mike Websters was a heart attack, but is brain-related trauma is the starting point for the movie “Concussion,” which opens in theaters on Christmas Day. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

The plan for Sunday’s weekly media column:
concussion movie.docxWe came out of a screening for the movie “Concussion” on Wednesday night with not just our brain spinning, but also our heart pounding.
There are plenty of benefits in consuming a just-the-facts PBS documentary like “League of Denial” from a year ago, or watching it discussed on an HBO “Real Sports” segment.
But here’s a new layer of heart-felt reaction that will come from seeing this Will Smith portrait of forensic Dr. Bennet Omalu, who appears not to be as anti-NFL as some may want to label him, but very interested, as a scientist, in finding truth and avoiding future autopsies that discover another CTE patient.
The issue is complex, along with all the politics and business pulling at it from different directions.
This isn’t a Hollywood-ized presentation.
Our intent is seek some answers from Merril Hoge, the former Pittsburgh Steelers teammate for several players whose eventual CTE diagnosis was what Omalu discovered in a Pittsburgh morgue. Hoge left the NFL more than 20 years ago after several bad concussions and continues to move forward as an ESPN NFL studio analyst.
Also, ESPN’s Sunday edition of  “Outside the Lines” has a special profile on Omalu (6 a.m., ESPN2).
“I wish someone else could have described CTE before me,” Omalu, who has had his own personal battles with depression, insomnia and high blood pressure, says in this piece. “I really wish honestly, my life would have been much, much smoother.”

What’s worth dishing out at this point in time:

san-diego-chargers-qualcomm-stadium-qualcomm-stadium-panorama-charg-quals-x-00031lg== By all weights, measures, decrees and soothsayers, Sunday’s Chargers game at Qualcomm Stadium against Miami has a more-than-marginal chance of being the franchise’s final game in San Diego.
The Chargers are on the road for the final two weeks, basically kicked out of the city that is preparing to hold two college bowl games.
Yet, Sunday after Sunday, the L.A. market has had to accept these now 3-10 Chargers, as part of the extortion package that diagrams a San Diego territorial TV map. We’ve in some ways become accustomed to this, and in other ways resentful, especially when early games that go into OT are cut away from to get to the start of an afternoon Chargers kickoff “due to league rules.”
Listen, if the team is eventually going to relocate to L.A., let’s at least try to size them up if we’re going to be required to make a fair catch.
So now what do the NFL TV Gods do to us this Sunday? It won’t give us the courtesy of watching the Chargers final home game of the 2015 season. Continue reading “Weekly media notes version 12.17.15 — A ‘Concussion’ spin that keeps reverberating” »

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