The effects of sports blogs

Humor is a necessity in life. People are always going to want to laugh, and sports, a cultural phenomenon that transcends boundaries, should be no different. Now, when that simple humor crosses a proverbial line and has the power to taint an athlete’s career, that’s when ethics should be called into question.

I liken many sports blogs to late night television shows such as The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and the Colbert Report. They’re incredibly funny and offer a twisted look at the world’s current events, but they are in no way hard news, and should not be considered as such. Yet their differences lie in the fact that these shows aren’t an all-access, TMZ-like pass into the private lives of celebrities and political figures, but rather a humorous take on aspects of their lives that are already covered in the news. Blogs such as Deadspin seem to adhere to that standard with the ability to go even further, like posting pictures of Matt Leinhart with a beer bong and other incriminating evidence. While I’m sure he wouldn’t mind a blog poking a bit of fun at something he does on the field or says in an interview, seeing a picture of himself at a party probably isn’t the image he wants his fans or the Cardinals front office to know him by.

There are ways to laugh without ruining the careers of those who make sports what they are – the athletes. Blogs like Deadspin do have harmless material that everyone can find humorous. But when their writers turn vulgar and use expletive after expletive to describe a pitcher’s performance, or unveil photos that can harm the career of a promising player, that’s when I yearn for a resurrection of the newspaper. I do believe hard news and blogs can coexist, though, and like Braylon Edwards said, people will always want to know the facts and the truth of what happened in a game, and that’s where true reporters will never disappear. And blogs can provide that humorous side of it all, portraying the light and fluffy side of sports. But, in a society where reality TV has already seemingly taken over the airwaves, the last thing we need is another gossip-fueled complete-access look into an unsuspecting athlete’s life.

Eamon Murphy: From sodas to Sweet 16

 

Thirty years ago, Eamon Murphy couldn’t even sell sodas. Now, he’s the go-to guy for the merchandise of a Sweet 16 team.

One the first day of his vending job at Candlestick Park at the age of 14, he simply wasn’t able to garner up the confidence to sell his soft drinks.  After failing to sell a single soda during the Giants’ batting practice, he forced himself to climb up to the nose-bleed seats and scream out all of his natural timidity. He hasn’t slowed down since.

Murphy, a ’86 graduate of Saint Mary’s College, now runs Gameday Souvenirs, based in Lafayette, CA, and has hit a personal jackpot by selling his alma mater’s apparel at a time when the school is as famous as it has been in years, thanks to the team’s stunning run to the South Region semifinals last month’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Eamon Murphy isn’t your stereotypical salesman, however. He’s a rare breed; he is a people person that’s not pushy and in-your-face cut is someone the general public can appreciate.

“I don’t like when salesmen force me to buy things I don’t want,” Murphy said. “Just be honest and the rest takes care of itself.”

In a world where advertisements are found essentially everywhere and many go to any length to sell one his or her product, Murphy prides himself on a much more modest approach.

“The number one thing to know for sales is to be nice, then to sell,” he said. “I don’t mix that up. I would rather lose the sale than lose the customer.”

Whatever he’s doing, it definitely works.

Realizing there was a lack of merchandise Gaels fans could buy, he proposed an a sales idea to the Saint Mary’s business office and athletic department in 1989 and the next year found himself outside the football stadium selling shirts.

“I knew that day that this was going to work,” he said. “These were products people wanted.”

His biggest payoff by far has been the Gaels’ recent basketball run. While he had to work daunting hours – he spent the night processing orders, slept for a couple of hours, and then return to campus to continue to sell – he sold over 1000 shirts the week the team advanced to the Sweet 16.

“Making the Sweet 16 really jumped us a level regarding athletics and merchandise,” Murphy said. “We’re not on Gonzaga’s level yet but we have now entered that realm. In 20 years that’s never happened.”

If the Gaels can keep up their winning ways for years to come, business will simply continue to boom for the hard-working Murphy. Thirty seconds after the Gaels’ defeated Villanova, he already had Sweet 16 shirts available online. Then the orders just poured in, with over 200 of them within the first two hours.

Donovan shouldn’t have to return to MLS, not yet at least

Imagine being a Lakers fan and wanting to see Kobe Bryant leave.

Yet that is exactly how Los Angeles Galaxy fans should currently feel about Landon Donovan, who just this past weekend returned to LA from English Premier League team Everton on a tremendously successful three-month loan where he impressed in what were three of the best months of his career.

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Guest: Lowell Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat

What especially struck me about Lowell Cohn’s visit to our class was his ability to keep sports in perspective. Getting angry over a coach thanking God for a victory when wars are being fought and not being starstruck in interviews make me quite impressed with Cohn’s demeanor. Maybe its his New York accent, but he seemed assertive and agressive, yet in a soothing manner. I absolutely loved it when he said, “Who do I care more about: me or Barry Bonds?” Another striking statement he made was referring to his “Doorway Theory,” which is the opinion that one never truly knows another unless he or she has been to the other’s house. I don’t know about physically entering someone’s house, but it really does take a while to get to know someone, and when you put into perspective the fact that so many of us, as the general public, think we “know” an athlete or a celebrity when the truth is actually quite far from that. People like Tiger Woods  tend to surprise and subsequently disappoint us, but who are we to say that we actually knew who they were before such a scandal comes out? Even Tiger’s own wife had no idea what was going on!

Ultimately, Cohn was a breadth of fresh air, as he doen’t hold athletes to unrealistic expectations and doesn’t put anyone up on a pedestal. People really shouldn’t demonstrate the “look” of admiration towards Cohn because he gets to meet some famous athletes, but instead look up towards family members and those that fight for our safety.

Guest: Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat

The Santa Rosa Press Democrat’s Matt Maiocco, also founder of the Instant 49ers blog, brought an incredible amount of advise and expertise when visiting our class. It is always fantastic to get the chance to speak with someone who spends so much time with one team and seems to inherently know pretty much everything about them.

One thing I especially found striking is his connection with the general public. I suppose that is probably one of the true benefits of the advent of the whole world of blogging; a writer has a real connection with his audience, so much so that he is essentially a fan. I got the sense that Maiocco is the quintessential fan of the 49ers and connects with his readers to such a great extent that he can properly be grouped in the same category as all of his fanatical readers. The clincher to this realization for me was when he talked of following Michael Crabtree to the hotel where his 49ers deal was struck, something any fanatical person would do if he knew the correct location. And to top it off, Maiocco received the tip from one of his own readers, a fan. To me, this was just an amazing example of blogging at its finest: a real relationship with the fans whom you are writing for.

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Despite loss, Men’s Lacrosse on road to success

As the clock wound down, a fierce comeback effort from the Gaels’ men’s lacrosse team was quelled by a combination of Santa Cruz’s staunch defense, questionable officiating decisions, and the lack of time to generate a comeback. The crowd watched as Saint Mary’s head coach Colin Knightly could only keep to himself near the center of a mud-drenched field for a few moments as the team walked off the field in defeat. After trailing 9-4 at the half, the Gaels scored four consecutive goals and were constantly pressuring the Banana Slugs’ defense, but ended up falling just short, losing 10-9 to their archrivals last Saturday.
The matchup has a bit of history, as the two sides met in last year’s WCLL Division II championship in a game remarkably similar to Saturday’s encounter, with the Gaels coming back only to end up losing by a single goal in overtime, 12-11, something that the Gaels definitely haven’t forgotten.

“Last year’s game was really similar to this. We got down at some times, it was a battle back and forth, and we talked before the game about not necessarily revenge but about having that little spit in our mouth and coming back almost twelve months later,” Knightly said. “The only good thing is that we’re going to have the opportunity to do it again, hopefully in the championship and on a turf, all-weather field.”

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Gaels take care of business against Pepperdine

If Omar Samhan has realized anything this season, it’s that he can’t be stopped.

The Saint Mary’s center continued his dominance Thursday night as he recorded a double-double, scoring 20 points and adding 10 rebounds while also becoming the Gaels’ all-time leader in blocks with 240, surpassing Diamon Simpson who has 239, in a resounding 76-49 win over Pepperdine at McKeon Pavilion.

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