Monday, May 21, 2007

The Times Giveth & Taketh Away

In the last week or so, I noticed two striking pieces in the New York Times about stories close to home. On May 12th, while the Cavs were still battling the New Jersey Nets (before later winning that series), sportswriter Selena Roberts wrote one of the weirdest pieces ever on the Cavs' Lebron James. It was pegged to two things: the series against the hometown Nets, but also to the fact (a non-story, really) that James had been named to the All-NBA second team this year. Which means he was considered only among the ten best players in the league, rather than among the five best. Big deal.

But her piece, the full text of which unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) is no longer online for free, was cringe-inducing. She talked about how rather than being an elegant player, as most of the rest of the basketball world considers him, he's actually rather inelegant. She wrote that he dribbles at the top of the key as if he's pounding coconuts rather than a basketball (!). That was only the weirdest of several weird comments she made. The whole thing, I'm afraid to say, left me with the latest outbreak of an unfortunate prejudice: the recurring suspicion that women are just not always cut out to be sportswriters. I know, ladies, it's a crude, even ugly, bias, for which I should be chastised (or worse). But there it is. Anyway, dear Selena, please try to learn something about hoops, or whatever else you choose to write about, before sitting down to write. As for her paper, I wish to god that one could read the national edition of a national paper's sports pages without getting homered. Even in the edition read by people all around the country, sports are covered from a shamelessly New York-centric view.

A few days later, in the news section, the paper had a nice piece on new Ohio Attorney General Mark Dann, all but crowning him as Elliot Spitzer's successor (now that he's gone from New York AG to the governor's mansion) as the most aggressive state AG in the land. The two spoke during the campaign, Dann told the paper, and Spitzer even sent him a small check. "I almost framed it, and didn't cash it," Dann said.


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