I’m sickened by the incessant coverage of the Virginia Tech shooting story…

…but not because of the story itself.

Why is it that every time we have a story like this, we have to have non-stop 24/7 coverage of it? Why is it that news sources that have nothing to do with general news are covering it (and not even with a related angle)? Does it really matter, at least the way most news sources are covering it, to anyone outside the general Blacksburg area? Does it really deserve more than a single news story on a standard newscast and then move on? Could it be that, on some level, despite all we say about how “sickening” and “tragic” the story is, we actually enjoy listening to stories about it, that we take some sort of perverse pleasure in letting it distract us from our lives? Could it be that, on some level, we actually want to hear about tragedy? The ancient Greeks did spend much of their free time watching tragedies played out on the stage, and we do seem to value tragic plays and movies more than comedies!

On the other hand, we’re already getting plenty of people moaning about not being able to comprehend “what could drive someone to do something like this.” Would someone do me a favor and try to find out what would drive someone to do something like this? Because I have a feeling it would lead to some disconcerting conclusions about society, ourselves, American culture, the assumptions we make about people, and even the core of human nature.

The NFL schedule story no one’s reporting on

I noticed something interesting about Year 2 of NBC’s Sunday Night Football.

Not the introduction of Keith Olbermann to the studio show, but rather, something about the schedule.

It still consists of the first ten weeks being pre-assigned, while Weeks 11-17 are “flex schedule” weeks, with games being chosen two weeks in advance (one week in the case of Week 17). But last season, the primetime spot on the schedule was simply left blank for the flex weeks.

This year, the primetime spot actually has a game listed, even though it could still be moved to an afternoon spot to make room for a better game.

As I intend on prognosticating on what games will be shown in prime time in this space, that brings up a bevy of questions that I’m not finding the answers to. Will CBS and Fox be able to “protect” the game listed in late night and keep it in the afternoon, or indeed, will they still be able to protect games at all? How closely will NBC hew to the game chosen for late night? Will a game have to be a complete dud for NBC to move away from it, or is the game just a placeholder for something close to the status quo last season, when NBC chose the games it thought best given the restrictions they had to work with (though they seemed to have certain perplexing biases, and choosing Packers-Bears Week 17 seemed to defeat the purpose of moving games only one week prior)?

All of a sudden, I’m dazed and confused and don’t know where to go.

Sports Watcher for the weekend of 4/14-15

All times PDT.

Saturday
1-3 PM: MISL Soccer, Detroit at Milwaukee (VS.). Did you know the Detroit Ignition are an expansion team? You wouldn’t be so impressed if you knew four teams make the playoffs… out of a six-team league.

4-6:30 PM: NHL Hockey, Tampa Bay at New Jersey (CBC). Folks in Canada are incenced the game between the Pittsburgh Penguins (w/Sid the Kid) and Ottawa Senators (only Canadian team in the Eastern Conference Playoffs) is not in prime time, and they have to watch an all-American game on CBC, solely to appease NBC. But the worst part is, the game CBC is airing isn’t available nationally in the States! Personally, I blame NBC for not showing any hockey in primetime other than the Finals. If you really want to grow the game so much in the States by force-feeding us Sidney Crosby, would it really hurt to put it in primetime on by far the weakest night of the week, which the Big Four hardly bother to program anyway?

(Before you think “Is that a sign they’re adding insult to injury by throwing CBC a game no one on either side of the border cares about?” consider that the game on Versus pits the 8-seed Islanders “versus” the 1-seed Sabres. Talk about a squash.)

(Incidentially, while CBC recently locked up a long-term deal with the NHL, NBC only re-upped for one more year with an option for a second… which at first glance appears to be a retread of the previous deal, which was similar, until you note that this coming year is also the last year of the NBA on ABC.)

Sunday
10:30-3 PM: NASCAR Racing, Samsung 500 (FOX). Three drivers have over 900 points out of five with 800. It’s lonely at the top of NASCAR.

5-8 PM: MLB Baseball, San Diego @ Los Angeles (ESPN). It’s Jackie Robinson Day in MLB and Bud Selig is allowing any player to wear his number; the Dodgers, the team that first put him in the big leagues, is one of a few teams doing it for everybody (Mike Cameron is the only one for the Padres). Expect more 42’s than even Douglas Adams could have ever dreamed. Clearly that day will be the day our planet is obliterated for a freeway bypass.

Baseball and hockey pre-empt boxing, TNA wrestling, and BodogFight MMA from the Watcher, but I did find out that my local cable system now shows exactly THREE PPV channels (outside the porn-only channels), which show porno in lighter hours than you’d think. Is “on demand” creating a new world, one which could force boxing, wrestling, and MMA to re-think their strategies as they increasingly become the only reason for PPV’s existence (alongside porn, but that might be headed for “on demand” as well once parental controls are advanced enough to allow it)? Spike TV will carry UFC 70 for free in the States next week in what could be the most watched (by network executives) and most pivotal sports event on television in recent memory. It could be a test that could establish, once and for all, the viability and popularity of MMA, could be a “test of the waters” for boxing and MMA, to determine if cable is financially viable, to determine if it’s time to come out of the PPV shelter and possibly on the road to respectability, and if that part’s successful, it could be one final nail in the coffin for PPV. (What it would do to professional wrestling, for which PPV is an integral part of the business model to the point where a “big event” happens once a month, not once a year, is anyone’s guess.)

Sports Watcher for the weekend of 4/7-8

All times PDT.

Saturday
12:30-3 PM: MLS Soccer, Colorado at DC United (ABC). Finally, the MLS season opener doesn’t compete with the Final Four pre-show. Of course, now it’s up against the first round of the Masters…

4-7 PM: College Hockey, Michigan State v. Boston College (ESPN). The third-biggest championship the NCAA administers. Of course, it’s light years behind even women’s college basketball and isn’t really that far from last place.

7-10 PM: Ultimate Fighting Championship, UFC 69 (PPV). I could write reams on why UFC is whipping boxing’s ass right now, but I’ll save them for a later date. (But a word of advice: If you want to become really mainstream and not elicit comparisons to illegal cagefighting or pro wrestling, dump the steel cage. I don’t know of any fighting organization of any kind that doesn’t use anything more than the classic ropes.)

Sunday
11:30-4 PM: PGA Golf, The Masters Final Round (CBS). You know, if that Tiger Woods gets a few more major wins, maybe, one day, if he’s really lucky, he’ll be enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

5-8 PM: MLB Baseball, Boston @ Texas (ESPN). Even though Curt Schilling will be Boston’s starter, we’ll still be caught up in Dice-K mania.

Next weekend: Hot NHL playoff action! (cue crickets)

Sigh… this never ends

99% of the time, I’m a – well, not nice guy, but certainly not an absolutely terrible one. 99% of the time, I go on with life just fine, doing work and my own things, and don’t really cross other people the way they sometimes cross me.

The remaining 1% of the time, though, seems to completely overwhelm the remaining 99%.

What is going on here? If college expects everyone to act absolutely perfect all the time, how is it even possible for anyone to leave high school not perfect? If high school and lower levels aren’t to make people perfect, and can easily shepherd imperfect people along past it, shouldn’t college recognize that and not assume that everyone is going to act perfect all the time?

Not as though either level should be in the business of teaching social mores, but if there are going to be people who are coming in without the requisite social mores then, at some level, there needs to be a class in social mores. If school is going to teach those things instead of academic topics, they should at least be upfront about it.

And if Asperger’s syndrome numbers are really on the rise, not just a result of better diagnoses (and maybe even if it is, since that would mean millions of people have been treated inappropiately to their reality), you need to be ready. Everyone needs to be ready.

What were my parents thinking when they didn’t indoctrinate me? Or brainwash me as the case may be? Never assume anyone is going to take the burden off your shoulders, or that anything is going to happen “naturally”.

Sometimes I’ll act out how I feel about certain people’s idiocy. But if it’s that extreme you’ve embarrassed yourself already. The chances aren’t any worse than it otherwise would, it just might have a little more punch.

I’m done ranting, but believe me, you haven’t heard the last of me…

Sports Watcher for the Weekend of 3/31-4/1

All times PDT.

Saturday
12-2:30 PM: NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, Kroger 250 (FOX). The Truck Series graduates from Speed Channel… for a couple of races per year.

3-5 PM: College Basketball, Georgetown v. Ohio State (CBS). At this point, the best thing for my bracket is for Ohio State to go on to win the national championship. My bracket is a mess right now, and I need to come away salvaging something.

5:45-7:45 PM: College Basketball, UCLA v. Florida (CBS). If you think it’s 2006 all over again, you’re wrong. This is only the Final Four, not the national championship.

Sunday
12-1 AM: WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony (USA). Nothing like a bunch of players of a fake sport being inducted into a nonexistent hall of fame, especially when you’ve heard of maybe one or two of the people going in, most of the inductions are left out of the hour show, and even that show is on after everyone has gone to bed.

10-11:30 AM: PBA Bowling, Tournament of Champions (ESPN). I’ll be watching the NBA, as ABC has some pretty good games, but I have a policy of putting every championship possible on the Watcher.

12-3 PM: LPGA Golf, Kraft Nabisco Championship (CBS). I support women’s sports in every form, so of course I’ll be watching Dallas and Phoenix. And NASCAR. Haven’t seen the Car of Tomorrow yet. But this is on the Watcher because it happens to be a major and I have the aforementioned rule on championships.

5-8 PM: MLB Baseball, NY Mets @ St. Louis (ESPN2). I pull for women’s basketball huge, so why am I picking Opening Night over the Women’s Final Four? Because without fail, every single year I find myself watching it, and often being fascinated with it. Maybe it’s just the lack of baseball we’ve had all winter.

(Yes, wrestling fans, I know I left out WrestleMania but included the HoF ceremony. I only list wrestling as a joke when there’s nothing else on.)

The 2007 Mid-Major Conference

Refer to this post if you don’t know what this is about or to catch up on the rules.

This year, six conferences produced multiple bids to the NCAA tournament: the MVC, MWC, WAC, A-10, CAA, and Horizon. These conferences are guaranteed one spot each in the Mid-Major Conference.

Four teams reached the Sweet 16, all from different conferences; only one of these teams did not come from a multi-bid conference. (In my view, Memphis’ trip to the Sweet 16 is tainted by the fact there were no major teams in its pod.) Of the three multi-bid conferences that did not produce a Sweet 16 team, all had one team win its first-round game and one team lose its first-round game. (This also applies to the three conferences to produce Sweet 16 teams as well.)

This leaves only one spot in the MMC to be determined by my discretion, with no conference restrictions.

Without further ado, the eight members of the 2007 Mid-Major Conference:

Butler (Horizon League)
Southern Illinois (Missouri Valley Conference)
UNLV (Mountain West Conference)
Memphis (Conference USA)
Nevada (Western Athletic Conference)
Xavier (Atlantic 10)
Virginia Commonwealth (Colonial Athletic Association)
Winthrop (Big South Conference)
Honorable mentions: Appalachian State, Akron, Marist

Davidson, Appalacian State, and Winthrop were the main contenders for the last spot. Davidson’s case was hurt by a big loss in the first round of the NCAA Tournament and the fact that it would lose a tiebreaker to App State. I wanted to reward the strong year for the SoCon with an MMC spot, especially since I considered App State’s resume to be awfully strong to dismiss completely for an NCAA bid, but getting demolished by Ole Miss in the first round of the NIT didn’t exactly fill me with confidence. Winthrop finally broke through the glass ceiling and won its first NCAA Tournament game; that must deserve special recognition. Rest assured, App State would be the first team in if the MMC were nine teams deep.

Marist makes the honorable mentions because it’s the only team from a conference not producing multiple NCAA bids to win its first round NIT game.

Sports Watcher for the Weekend of 3/24-25

All times PDT.

Saturday
9-11 AM: Women’s College Basketball, Bowling Green v. Arizona State (ESPN). ESPN has this really weird concept, when they’re showing the women’s tournament, called “showing every Sweet 16 game to the entire country.”

11:30-1:30 PM: Women’s College Basketball, Rutgers v. Duke (ESPN). If the Duke-haters are going through withdrawl since Coach K got pwned by VCU, at least the women have a cupcake path to the Final Four.

1:30-3:30 PM: College Basketball, Ohio State v. Memphis (CBS). Memphis will lead the Buckeyes for awhile before ultimately collapsing improbably.

4-6 PM: College Basketball, Kansas v. UCLA (CBS). Two of the most storied programs in college basketball, and they’re probably reduced to carrying Florida’s water.

6-8 PM: Women’s College Basketball, NC State v. Connecticut (ESPN). According to ESPN’s advertising, NC State’s run is inspiring for some reason. Hell if I know why.

8:30-10:30 PM: Women’s College Basketball, Florida State v. LSU (ESPN2). “Hmm… we’ve got a game the majority of which will be played after midnight on the East Coast. Who should we have playing there?” “How about an East Coast team against a Central Time Zone team?” (Actually, Stanford was upset by 10-seed FSU in the second round.)

Sunday
8-9 AM: Drag Racing, NHRA Lucas Oil Series (ESPN2): Oh wait, you say April Fools’ day is still a week away?

9-11 AM: Women’s College Basketball, Marist v. Tennessee (ESPN). Marist has had two improbable upsets over overrated BCS teams. Now they face… Pat Summitt. Welcome to reality, Foxes.

11:30-4 PM (or 2-4 PM, see below): College Basketball, Midwest (Florida v. UNLV/Oregon) and East (Georgetown v. North Carolina/USC) regional finals (CBS). Watch Florida basically get coronated into the Final Four, and then watch an actual college basketball game. Or vice versa. Who knows?

Only if Florida is in the first CBS game
11:30-1:30 PM: Women’s College Basketball, Mississippi v. Oklahoma (ESPN2). Courtney Paris has a double-double in all but three games of her collegiate career, including 60 straight. So naturally she’s due for a letdown.

Honorable Mention: 10:30-3 PM: NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Racing, Food City 500 (FOX). If your bracket’s busted and you don’t care what happens from here on out, why not watch some history instead? This is the first NEXTEL Cup race to use the “Car of Tomorrow”, the next generation of stock-car racing vehicle. Expect the sloppiest race you’ve ever seen, of course.

4-6 PM: Women’s College Basketball, Georgia v. Purdue (ESPN2). Bet you never thought of Purdue as a power women’s team. I never thought of any Big Ten team as a power women’s team.

6:30-8:30 PM: Women’s College Basketball, George Washington v. North Carolina (ESPN2). Hey, it’s George Mason all over again!

After college basketball: Mid-Major Conference Naming Ceremony (Da Blog). One mid is in the Elite Eight, one lost in the Sweet 16, two are still playing in the Sweet 16, and the rest never made it out of the first weekend. That’s good enough to name the members of the first MMC.

Sports Watcher’s coming back. Deal with it.

I have made exactly three posts in the month-and-a-half since leaving the residence halls, all on college basketball. Unless I get some ideas on how to proceed on any other topic, I’m going to revive this feature and start moving towards a sports-centric blog. Past posts have offered other ideas as well as first introduced the concept of Sports Watcher. I’m thinking of putting up a poll on potential projects to be featured on Da Blog but most of the time college is probably going to be too much of a pressure on my time. You may still direct Da Blog towards any topic you wish by leaving a comment to this post.