S1: The following podcast contains explicit language. People who are listening for the first time might hear a bad word to.
S2: Hi, I’m Josh Levine, Slate’s national editor and the author of The Queen, this is Hang Up and listen for the week of March 23rd, 2020. On this week’s show, we’ll talk about Tom Brady’s big move from New England to Tampa and how in this time of global uncertainty, there’s truly nothing left for us to grasp. Fonthill. I’m getting ahead of myself, though. We’ll also discuss the increasing calls to postpone the Tokyo Olympics and whether intransigents sport crats will end up killing all of us. Finally, we’ll interview English rugby announcer Nick Heath, who’s taken to calling some alternate events during our global sports shut down. Among them, two lonely blokes in a park final and the regional qualifiers for market bartering.
S3: I’m in my home office in Washington, D.C., my cell phone next to my ear, my headphones strapped on. I’ve got Xoom thrumming here. A podcast. Joining me from his place in D.C., sporting a Corona virus beard Stefan FATSIS. His daughter, the books, word freak and a few seconds of panic. Hello, Stefan Cova.
S4: Beard. I’d like to call it looking good, man. You’re just saying because it really does not look good.
S5: But I appreciate the sentiment with us, as always, from Palo Alto, a man who is a world renowned expert on beards and working from home. It is Slate staff writer, host of Slow Burn Season 3, Joel Anderson. Hello, Joel.
S6: I wish this was a visual medium so you could see how good Stefan looks today, guys. It’s a very good beard.
S7: Did you guys see the Ben Roethlisberger video?
S8: Oh, yeah. Well, I didn’t see the video. I saw a screenshot of it. And that’s a guy that’s gonna play football this year based on the density of his facial hair.
S3: It looks like we are in year 18, the Internet virus pandemic. It’s really, really terrifying. I will leave it to you to look at that on your own time. Speaking of people who have been alive for a long time, Tom Brady. He’s about to be 43 years old. He’s going to Tampa last week, Mr. Brady, six time Super Bowl champion, a man who refuses to eat peppers, tomatoes and eggplants, announced he was leaving the New England Patriots after 20 seasons to play for the franchise with the worst winning percentage of any team in all four major North American sports leagues. Maybe it was the creamsicle throwbacks. Maybe it’s the legacy of kicker Donald Igwe weekday. Maybe it’s the Brady and Buck’s coach, Bruce Arians have similar taste in hats. Or perhaps the Bucs have a lot more talented receiver for the twenty nineteen Patriots dead and the Bucs. They wanted to offer him a contract. This is our new reality. Brady is a buck. Belichick is bereft. Maybe he’s actually fine. I was just reaching for an alliteration there, Jol. What do you make of this move?
S9: I think first and foremost, I think back about a month ago when we first discussed Tom Brady and I was somebody they didn’t believe that he would actually leave New England because I’ve not seen it yet. And this is what it took for me to believe in him actually leaving. The other thing of it is that I think it’s fair to assume that most star athletes believe they’re unique, and that’s because they’ve been unique their entire careers. It’s not it’s not possible to have a makeup that’s common among men and women and accomplish what Brady has at this level. And so they push and push and push and succeed against all odds until they discover their mortality. And then you can’t really argue with age or mortality. And so I just think of the fact that Brady is going to be 43 by the time the season starts. If it starts. He’s probably not an elite NFL quarterback anymore. And in fact, according to the most recent QB statistics from the 2019 season, he had the exact same QB rating as Jameis Winston, which put him at 16th among NFL quarterbacks. So I just wonder how much of a future there is with him and not just Tampa Bay, but in the NFL. And you kind of wonder where the Patriots go from here. They’re probably not talented enough on the roster to make it worth his while to have a 43 year old quarterback. But it’ll just be interesting to see how both of these, you know, institutions of the NFL continue, assuming the NFL continues in a few months.
S10: To me, it’s less about Brady because Brady is obviously the Hall of Fame, blah, blah, blah. One of the greatest players of all time. And he’ll make something reasonable happen in Tampa. I don’t think it will be a complete failure if there is a season. I don’t think that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are going to make it to the Super Bowl. To me, this story is more retrospective than prospective. I think it’s about Tom Brady’s career and what he achieved, but also what he sacrificed by playing for Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft in New England. I mean, I think this was ultimately about an employee sacrificing to some degree. A lot of money, but also some self-worth and respect because it resulted in championships for 20 years. He basically deferred to the desires of the owner and the desires of the coach. And now he’s kind of saying my turn. I mean, in what other business would one of the best to ever do the job have to repeatedly make psychological and financial sacrifices to stay with his employer? Seth Wickersham, piece on ESPN. Tick tock of what went down and how Brady wound up leaving New England, I think is ultimately about how Bill Belichick is just another asshole middle manager making his staff feel like shit. Even his best employee.
S5: Yeah. I mean, he’s also proud of the greatest NFL coach of all time. The phrase asshole middle manager generally connotes someone who is not talented and is just a jerk, which is not the case with Belichick. And Brady has clearly profited from this relationship in terms of on-field victories, but also in terms of marketing. Like there would be no TB twelve method if TB had zero super balls. I mean, this is a guy who has used the NFL or benefited from the NFL more than maybe any player ever. He’s the most famous football player in the world. He’s probably the only a football player that a lot of people around the world have even heard of. And so this notion that he’s been used and abused by the Patriots feels a little bit farcical to me. I mean, let’s compare him to Drew Brees, who by all accounts has a really good relationship with Sean Payton, the coach. I don’t think and I don’t think there’s been any suggestion that the Saints have treated him unfairly. The Saints actually signed him out of San Diego when Brees of the shoulder injury and other teams. Weren’t interested in him. He has all time records and touchdowns in passing yards. Brady has come back in his 40s, but he decided to stay with the Saints rather than leaving. But he has one Super Bowl and there is a long stretch of years where the Saints 179 every year. And so I guess the question, Stefan, is would you rather. And we don’t know, like what’s going on, you know, inside these guys heads. But if we were to assume that breezes content with the franchise and the city, would you rather have his life and his career than Tom Brady’s life and career?
S11: I don’t know that that’s a choice that needs to be made. I mean, maybe I’ll I’ll I’ll concede what you’re saying and I’m going to defend what I’m saying, because maybe what this is, is a reflection on how fucked up the NFL labor market is. Setting aside Brady’s relationship with Belichick or what Belichick gave Brady and what Brady got from Belichick, however symbiotic their relationship was. The mere fact that Brady was and could be put in a position where he believed that he had to relinquish his right to seek fair market value for his services in order to play for the team that would give him all of those ancillary benefits, marketing status, the greatest, you know, famous, famous football player ever. Championships is messed up. I mean, Brady could have left. He was unwilling to leave earlier because of everything that he was getting out of New England. But his employer chose to fuck him over four years. And that’s an indictment not just of Kraft’s ownership, but of the NFL labor system that put him in that position in the first place. Yeah.
S12: And I also think one thing to consider is that there’s nothing unique about this. But the particular people involved, only a handful of great players get that one team career in the NFL. You know, maybe I would. I initially thought Drew Blake Brees was won over. And then I realized he started his career with the San Diego Chargers. But Warren Moon left the Oilers. You know, Brett far left the Packers. Peyton Manning left the Colts. Joe Montana left the forty Niners. This is a very common occurrence that an aging quarterback butts up against a front office that says maybe we need to cut our losses now and let’s go with the younger a younger prospect. That’s not what the Patriots are doing right now, cause I don’t think Brian Hoyer is a young is young or a prospect.
S13: Well, Jarrett Stidham is apparently the guy that they’re going to go if. He looked really bad against LSU when he was at Auburn. So I have no faith in him. But apparently he looked good in the preseason last year.
S6: He was a great Texas high school quarterback. So there’s something to be said for that. But yeah, so who’s to say where the Patriots are going to go from here? But there’s nothing unique about what’s going on here except the fact that it’s possibly the greatest quarterback in the greatest coach in the history of the NFL. And one thing from that Seth Wickersham piece mentioned that the Patriots, quote, have always been ruthless in its internal evaluation of players.
S12: So even within this franchise, consider Richard Seymour, Vince Wilfork and I believe there’s been other players and I’m sure I can’t remember the names of them at the top of the head. But I believe the Patriots have done this with plenty of other players in the past, players that you think that were integral to their success and foundational to the championships that they’ve won and they’ve still let them go. Tom Brady just found out he’s just another player. At the end of the day, that doesn’t have as much value to the franchise as he did, you know, five, 10 years ago.
S14: I don’t think Tom Brady found that out at the end of the day. I think he found that out years ago. I mean, he there was a contract beef in 2010. He stood by the Patriots during Spygate. They left him hanging during Deflategate. He got mixed signals after the 2017 season about whether the Patriots wanted him and whether they would sign him to a long enough contract that would allow him to finish his career in New England. I mean, maybe these stories about the relationship with Ballard between Belichick and Brady and Brady and Kraft are one sided. Know, maybe, maybe we’re getting the narrative from Brady’s people, which is more likely than getting the narrative from Belichick’s people.
S13: But at the same time, we here. FATSIS I don’t buy any of this. Why?
S7: Stefan, this whole sympathy for Tom Brady business is making me break out in hives. It’s not coronavirus. It’s just it’s just Brady in these times are patriots in disguise. I don’t know who’s inducing it, but let’s let’s look back at 2070. And I mean, I think that one of the big things that caused the break between Brady and the Pats was that Alex Guerrero business. This is Brady’s doctor, therapist, dietician, Macias, whatever. And I think there’s a good reason for the Patriots not to want this guy to be basically an auxiliary staff member working out of the stadium. And Brady, you know, TB twelve. He wanted this guy to, you know, his his guru to be in the stadium. Working with other players, dispensing has health and fitness advice to everyone and, you know, Belichick for understandable reasons, didn’t want this dude around. And so I think that caused a kind of a schism. And then there are also these reports. It wasn’t in the Wickersham piece, strangely, it wasn’t a story by Matt Miller of Bleacher Report that when the Forty Niners called and wanted Jimmy Garoppolo in 2017, Belhadj &c. was like, what do you think, Brady instead, which is amazing. And Brady apparently found out about it and was pissed off, understandably. But my version of events, which just takes the same set of facts and puts them in a slightly different template, is that Belichick wanted to Brady to find out about this for motivational reasons. They did win another Super Bowl. And what was the cost? Brady’s leaving, but he’s already going to be 43 years old.
S15: Bill Belichick wins again every story and book. Mark Leibovich, his book, Big Game, made it clear that Brady had had it with Belichick’s culture. And yeah, maybe Josh, you’re absolutely right. I think we’re both right here, frankly. I think that Belichick and the Patriots treated Brady badly in terms of his financial recompense for many, many years and persuaded him by using the NFL rules to give up a lot to stay. At the same time, Belichick has lived up to his reputation as a ruthless evaluator of his roster who is willing to suffer nothing, including sentiment, to keep a player around who he doesn’t want to have around anymore.
S12: I also think that part of that hometown, the quote, hometown discount that Brady took from the Patriots for years is maybe a tacit acknowledgment on both sides that he needed a certain level of talent to be an accomplished quarterback. Like I like every quarterback. No quarterback is an island in the NFL. You generally need a lot of supporting help. But Brady isn’t particularly gifted. It’s not like he’s a guy who’s mobile. A lot of what makes him great is, you know, obviously his mind for the game like this deft footwork into and in the pocket, avoiding, you know, pressures and getting hit and his accuracy. But a lot of that is moot if you don’t have, you know, people that can get open. And if you don’t have Gronk, if you don’t have Aaron Hernandez, if you don’t have, you know, Troy Browns, all these sorts of people that are just sort of working in tune with him. So I don’t think necessarily if the Patriots did him wrong, they may have helped elevate his career in some ways by allowing that money that would have been tied up within the cap on him to spread around and build out there, you know, ruled out their team. There’s always been this theory that, oh, well, you know, the Patriots have not, you know, helped Brady out, not gotten the supporting cast he’s needed in certain years. But I mean, man, you know, he’s had Antoine Smith. He’s had, you know, Randy Moss. He’s had for a moment in time, Antonio Brown. He had Rob Gronkowski, probably the greatest tight end in NFL history. It’s not like he’s been without help in him. Not causing so much of the salary cap is allowed. The Patriots have been able to sporadically over the course of, you know, his 20 year year career to have that sort of talent. No NFL team is going to be able to consistently keep, you know, weapons around any one quarterback, but you can keep it at a certain level to where they can be successful enough to keep you competitive.
S13: The fact that you put Antoine Smith first on that list is like maybe the mess Joel University Houston was. Yeah, exactly. Wow. That the Patriots don’t a an NFL running back on their roster with with Brady.
S16: What? What an amazing service they perform. Well, if the Patriots are such and Belichick are such ruthless evaluators of talent, then how can you explain what happened last year where they had no viable skill position players and now I mean, they must really love this Jarrett Stidham guy. Look, you know, maybe they didn’t watch that LSU tape. I’m just saying. But the last couple years, you can’t you certainly can’t criticize the franchise has been on the greatest run an NFL history. But I think there can be even when you say that Belichick is the greatest coach in history, you can go a little bit overboard and saying this guy has never made a mistake or hasn’t put together rosters, that that didn’t work. You know, last year’s offense was not working. It wasn’t good. The Bucs have better skill, position, talent than the Patriots do. The Bucs franchise has not had any kind of longstanding success or any sustained success ever. But in this current moment, you’d rather have Godwin and Evans than, you know, Julian Edelman and TBD. So this made sense for Brady to go there to try to wring the last drops out of his career. And I think if Belichick, you know, really wants to prove that. You know, he is the greatest in command of that. Brady, he’s got to bring back Drew. But Drew Bledsoe, I mean, that is that is what we got to see here. Maybe Drew Bledsoe, maybe Matt Cassel. That guy is definitely still available. You got Joe Flacco out there on the market. Jameis Winston that could be a little challenge. Move. Cam Newton, of course. Could could be in there. Just a lot of fun directions just for me personally. That ballot I could go and just for my entertainment.
S4: Except that it looks like Belichick has decided he brought back Brian Hoyer top of the list. Josh, there was really no doubt who Cody Kessler as well. Everybody is looking to Castle. There were lots of Tassler. Yeah. All Yeah. I mean, we should also not forget that really nobody seemed to want Tom Brady. I mean, it looked like the the Bucs and the Chargers were the only two teams in the end that were interested. The forty Niners didn’t want to ditch Garoppolo. The Titans signed Ryan Tannehill howling catatonic. Come on. Show some respect. The Colts didn’t want him. Philip Rivers. I mean, who wouldn’t want Philip Rivers? The Raiders. The Dolphins. The Broncos. Dan Rivers has really good, man. Yeah, he’s really good. He throws funny stuff. He’s 44 himself. You know, it wasn’t like there was a tremendous demand here. So to say that while Tom Brady has gone to a place where he’s got some weapons and could succeed, good career moves like you didn’t have a career move, he wants to play the last forty five. They were willing to find him.
S8: Right. And one thing about I mean, we talk about weapons. We also forget about scheme and offensive line and how like how pivotal they are within an offense. And we don’t I mean, I’m not, you know, breaking down tape.
S12: I’m not looking at the all twenty two. So I can’t testify to how good the Bucs supporting cast and offensive line all work together. But I suspect that there probably are some holes there that make them a little bit vulnerable. I don’t think that it was all Jameis Winston last year, even though he did throw, you know, in addition to 30 interceptions through, I think the the highest and acceptable rate in many years in terms of passes. So he clearly was a problem there, but I don’t think it was all of that. Like the bug still were able to move the ball with Jameis Winston. But I’m not sure that, you know, we sell it. He’s got all these weapons, all NFL teams have weapons. There’s somebody almost on every team. That is Mike Evans like or something like that. We’ll see how successful he is. But I mean, we know what the history of the NFL is. We’re old enough to know that generally it doesn’t end well for the old quarterback that changes teams. You know, I mean, like the old superstar that changes teams late in their career. Guys get old. The Patriots saw that. And it should make other everybody else think, well, what is Bill Belichick? If Bill Belichick is the genius that we think he is, then people should be thinking, why would Bill Belichick with Tom Brady go? Like, why? Why would he let him go at this age? Why would he let him retire with him? And that to me, that says something about what they think about Tom Brady at this point in his career. And maybe it’s something that other NFL teams are aware of and we’ll probably see play out if the season comes to be.
S17: Yeah, I think that’s exactly right, Joe. I think that’s the way to view this story. It’s one part football and one part soap opera. Kraft through Belichick under the bus at the end of this, Belichick through Brady off the team. And Brady went out with a flamethrower behind him talking about how unhappy he’s been for years. And that’s all separate from whether Tom Brady is a good quarterback anymore.
S5: Let’s end it there. And let’s also just pause on the fact that this was a very sports conversation. You can’t get more sports than this.
S18: Congratulations to us. Right. NFL thinks.
S19: The organizers of the 2020 Tokyo Games and the International Olympic Committee have been criticized all weekend. Why? Because we’re in the midst of a global pandemic and they haven’t called off the Summer Olympics. Yes, this segment is about the coronavirus and we’re in a very different world now, one where it seems increasingly likely that the Olympic Games will be canceled for the first time since 1944, which is in the middle of World War Two. But that’s how bad and dangerous things are now. Coronavirus is totally up into the world. And our way of life in most things in many places have come to a stop, not preparations for the Olympics at least. Yet on the same day, Japan lit the Olympic flame. I wrote a piece that published on Slate.com calling for Team USA to boycott the Olympics. Not long after, a couple other countries beat the US to the punch over the weekend. Canada and Australia decided they wouldn’t be sending their Olympic teams to Japan. Brazil and Norway have called on the Games to be delayed.
S1: And here in the States, USA Swimming and USA track and field have called on the Olympics to be postponed for a year. And a number of athletes, including hurdler and former LSU great Josh Lolo Jones, have spoken. For whatever it’s worth. It does seem as if the IOC and Tokyo Games officials are listening to the international outcry. According to news reports, the IOC is said to be considering postponing the Olympics. They Elsie’s said over the next four weeks they will explore a potential change of the start date of July 24th and whether to modify, quote, existing operational plans. An Australian newspaper reported late Sunday night. But what would be Monday there that the IOC has already decided to postpone the games by a year? That hasn’t been confirmed yet, but maybe it will be by the time you hear this podcast.
S12: Late Monday afternoon. Tuesday morning. So, Stefan, what do you think of all this international intrigue around the Games?
S17: Look, the Olympics are dead in 2020. Let’s be clear. And this has been obvious for about two weeks to everyone except for the two most important bodies involved, the International Olympic Committee and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee. Let’s start with the IOC. There’s a way to understand their craven sport, a cratic behavior. This is who the IOC is. They have to pretend that the Olympics stand for something more than what they actually stand for. Money medals may have to kowtow to sponsors, make it look like they’re putting in a good faith effort to preserve the games this year. The crisis has been has made it more obvious than ever. What an empty shell the Olympic movement is and how high on their own supply they are.
S20: How the IOC really believes the historical bullshit that the ancient Greek Olympics were a truce. Arabel the modern games are immune from politics, from economics, even from a deadly pandemic. The games must go on. So you get statements like the one on Sunday from the IOC that are filled with words like solidarity and partnership. Can I read sport aircraft voice your permission, everybody. Permission, OK. On the one hand, there are significant improvements in Japan where the people are warmly welcoming the Olympic flame. This could strengthen the IOC confidence in the Japanese hosts that the IOC could, with certain safety restrictions, organize the Olympic Games in the country whilst respecting its principles of safeguarding the health of everyone involved. On the other hand, there is a dramatic increase in cases and new outbreaks of covered 19 in different countries on different continents. This let the executive board to the conclusion that the IOC needs to take the next step in its scenario planning. This statement also includes this, though the IOC executive board emphasized that the cancellation of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 would not solve any of the problems or help anyone. Therefore, cancellation is not on the agenda.
S21: Come on, man, it is not on the agenda.
S20: On the one hand, the Olympic flame, on the other hand, deadly virus sweeping the planet. The lack of self-awareness among these clowns is staggering.
S22: I enjoyed Roger Sherman’s piece on this in the wringer where he noted that if the Olympics didn’t exist and we were to think about what is the dumbest theoretical thing we could do if we want to slow down the spread of a global pandemic. All right. Let’s take people from every country in the world, put them in really close proximity to each other and to hundreds of thousands of fans. Maybe for about two weeks we’ll actually have them.
S21: Let’s let’s put them in a like a village where they all live really close to each other. Let’s put a lot of condoms in there. You know, just let them let them have a really good time. Put put them in that village, then send them back to where they came from. Maybe do some parades and have more. You know, tens of thousands more people just come and congregate all around them.
S23: That seems like a good idea. That’s a good way to stop a global pandemic. Yeah. Olympics. Bad idea. Don’t do it. It is interesting that in the U.S. we saw the NBA. Lead, lead, and part of it was to circumstances, the really go bear thing happened and they acted because they had to act. But in this case, I think it isn’t unfair or unrealistic to suggest that the U.S. Olympic Committee should have been the ones to take the first step because, you know, as you. I think we’re alluding to Stefan. The U.S. has the ability to end the Olympics. If the U.S. says we’re not doing it, it’s over. But it turned out it was Canada and Australia who took the first move while the U.S. Olympic Committee was hesitant. And, you know, equivocated and maybe there’s politics there. Maybe behind the scenes, the U.S. is saying we need to end this, but just for public reasons, it can’t said. But, Joel, I mean, if you look at these numbers like we’ve been hearing in Congress, reports about, you know, billions, tens of billions of dollars and, you know, that seems like a lot of money. NBC paid the IOC almost eight billion dollars on its own to sit for 10 years worth of Olympics bad guys.
S24: I mean, this is an enormous investment. This is huge business.
S23: And so I guess we do need to acknowledge that and say, like, you know, just thing where we’re not going to do the Olympics this year, like that is a big ass deal to make that move and to put that out there.
S8: Yeah. I mean, Japan itself is poured more than $25 billion in public and private money to states, the games. That’s a lot of investment to just walk away from.
S6: I can see both pieces of this because obviously it’s stupid to bring people together in a time like this. It’s like it’s potentially the most dangerous thing we could do because in addition to bringing all those athletes together, you’re sending them all back into the world, to their individual countries where they could continue to spread it over and over again.
S1: So obviously it’s done. But there’s a piece of this like, well, that’s been a lot of money on this. And just on an athlete just like you, just thinking in terms of, you know, the athletes themselves, it’s a very difficult thing to walk away from this.
S12: People spend their entire careers like they entire lives, building up to this one event. It’s the world championships. And at the same time, you know, in any given year, the Olympics are the thing. And that’s where people make their livings off of. They make their names. You know, Mary Lou Retton is, you know, an American icon, not because, like she won U.S. gymnastics championships in 1983 because she was an Olympic hero in 1984. So I totally understand why it would be very difficult to walk away from this, but that doesn’t really excuse the U.S. And in fact, the fact that the USOC has been equivocating in this way is a sort of analogous to how the U.S. has not really led in the Corona virus fight. Like we’ve, you know, delayed with getting test responded to the crisis much later than other countries. So it’s not a surprise, actually, that the USOC would be behind so many other developed nations in this regard, because that’s just what we are right now as a nation like we’re slow to respond, not quite up to the challenge of meeting a crisis. And so, yeah, why wouldn’t we still be dawdling? Why Australia and, you know, other countries have said, no, we’re not going to do it.
S25: I think, Josh, you’re right about one aspect of this, and that’s the political component. The US has never been influential or as influential as you think it should be in the Olympic movement, despite its contributing the vast majority of revenue through television and through sponsor companies. There’s always been a resentment on the part of all of these international governing bodies toward the United States. So it is conceivable that the US was sitting back and in concert with the other large Western sports countries like Australia, like Canada, maybe just sat back and said, why don’t you guys take the lead if Canada and Australia don’t show up? That’s just those are just the first two dominoes and then we have no choice but to follow suit. Is it a little bit disingenuous from a public relations standpoint, especially since American athletes, American athlete representatives to the U.S. Olympic Committee were all have been for the last few days saying we can’t train. The USOC has shut down training headquarters. It won’t be safe for us to participate from a pandemic perspective, but also from an athletic perspective, because we can’t prepare for these games the norm the way that we normally would. So, I mean, to me, it was a it was a fait accompli that there weren’t going to pay Olympics in July or August. So from the USOC is political approach. Yeah, maybe it was wildly or strategically smart to wait and let someone else take the lead. But as a matter of public perception, it’s awful.
S23: Now, you mentioned the athletes. I mean, people can train. I mean, it’s just impossible to do this for any number of reasons if you actually stop and think about it.
S22: And so you asked centerand Stefan. From Travis Tygart, the anti-doping guy. It’s like we can’t have the Olympics because we can’t do any doping tests, and so it would be the dirtiest Olympics ever. I think that is the classic example of having a hammer and everything looking like an how? It’s like, oh, yeah, that’s that’s the number one reason we can’t have the Olympics is because we don’t have the resources right now to make people pee in a cup.
S23: But there’s just been this gradual, creeping realization in every realm of society across the world. I spend most of my time like Joel does on college football message boards and it’s like dawning on fans really slowly. It’s like, oh, we really dodged this bullet. And then it’s like, oh, actually, there may not be a season for us either. It’s like it’s going to happen to everyone in every realm. And maybe, you know, you know, we’re gonna get out of this at some point. We don’t know when it’s going to be. But the line for like when the earliest possible date that we’re gonna get out of this just keeps moving backwards and backwards and backwards. And for the Olympics, as as you said, Joel, you’ve got these two things that are competing, though, like huge infrastructure and economic investment, the fact that this is a gargantuan event for participants and spectators. But then there’s also just the realities of the world that we’re living in. And what we’re learning is that there’s nothing that’s too big to withstand this. That’s just the fact.
S4: But I am comforted in the end by IOC President Thomas Box letter to athletes, guys. And let me just read an excerpt of that place at the end of this dark tunnel. We are all going through together, not knowing how long it is.
S18: The Olympic flame will be a light at the end of this tunnel. I mean, could you have said it any more beautifully or poetically? I don’t think so. So 2021. Do you guys think that’s what’s gonna happen?
S4: Yeah, I don’t know. Well, I mean. Yeah. Right. I don’t know what the hell that happened.
S6: Right. We don’t. I mean, we don’t know what the world is going to look like and what, you know, corporations and networks and athletes will be standing at the end of this. But also, it’s really hard to. I mean, there’s other athletic events that are scheduled that year that would have to make concessions to allow for the Olympics.
S12: And maybe, maybe we’ll realize the importance of the Olympics when this is all over and we’ll be like, wow, we really missed that. That was a great opportunity. Or maybe we’ll think about the folly of the whole enterprise. Like maybe we don’t need to have a quadrennial gathering every four years to determine who the fastest person is like.
S26: We know these things now and likely we’re not going to do that. Yeah.
S27: So. I just said it. Just say it. It just seems like the reasons we used to have the Olympics don’t necessarily quite apply anymore in this modern world and in this post-apocalyptic world that we’re probably going to be looking at.
S19: You just wonder if people will say, well, why are we making billions of dollars of investments in something we can’t even provide social safety nets for our residents. So I don’t know. But we’ll see. We’ll see. But yeah, maybe they will try to have the Olympics in 2021. But who the hell knows?
S4: I mean, look, there were no Olympics in 1916. There were no Olympics in 1940 because of war or 44 or 44.
S15: Now, obviously, there are there are much larger interests at play here. Financial ones, not just Japan’s 25 billion dollar investment. That will put more pressure on making the games happen. But this will be an interesting test case of just how the rest of the sports world views the Olympics. Are they willing, as you alluded to, Joel, to make concessions to their own calendars? You know, Euro 2020 is being moved to 2021. There are going to be other leagues that have to alter their schedules as they do every four years to accommodate the Olympics. Will they be willing to do that next year? We’ll see how much people really care about the Olympics and whether they believe that it’s worth co-operating with the IOC in order to make the games happen.
S28: Yeah, there is this turf war happening in tennis. The French Open announced kind of unilaterally who is moving to the end of September.
S22: And it’s like you didn’t see fit to mention that. It’s like, what about the USA?
S29: And so, like, it’ll be interesting to see if there’s any kind of cooperative spirit here or if everybody is just gonna be fighting it out for that time and space on the sports calendar, 2021. It’s going to be an interesting year. Twenty twenty is gonna be an interesting year stipulated.
S28: All right, I want to let you know that in our bonus segment for Slate Plus members, we’re going to talk about what leagues can do to keep us entertained during these dark times.
S30: Should the NBA hold some sort of charity game? Maybe a dunk contest would be entertained by that. We’ll discuss. If you want to hear that discussion and you’re not a slate plus member, you can sign up. It’s just $35 for the first year at slate.com. Slash hang up. Plus.
S31: Sports is still not quite shut down entirely around the world in Minsk. Last Thursday, minnows energetic Biji You shocked B.A.R.T. Boris off three to one in the opening match of the Belarussian Premier League. That is the last football league standing in Europe in Australia. Melbourne City won the women’s soccer championship, beating Sydney FC one nil on Saturday. The rugby league there is stubbornly marching on and the men’s soccer league is trying to save its season, maybe by having every team gather and play in Sydney and in England. Well, let’s listen to a championship final contested last week.
S32: Will you join me live for what I’ve been told is the tooting dogging final and these two vanilla and chocolate doing really well. Vanilla just over the. And the despot’s chocolate in hot pursuit. There’s been some lovely footwork and there it is again from Madonna. That’s excellent. The spying on our art in front confuse the hell out of it. Doesn’t know where it is twisting and turning. That’s vanilla as such a worthy champion scampering away. We’re going to get a second that. Just beginning to build up.
S33: If you break it off, it’s great that you started it. Spaniel at sixes and sevens. Quick little after that one, I should think. Lovely.
S31: That was rugby play-by-play man Nick Heath who may be out of work but is not out of material. His impassioned calls of vanilla and chocolate of two guys playing soccer badly, of a dude picking out a shirt in a discount clothing store of people crossing the street. Women pushing strollers and people shopping for vegetables have gone viral, filling a void in a world without live sports. Nick, he joins us from London. Hey, Nick. How are you? Good. Thank you for joining us. You started posting these videos on Twitter about a week ago with the hashtag Lyfe Commentary and they’ve taken off the dogging finals is closing in on half a million views. Were you just bored or was doing play-by-play of people shopping for a crude attack in a supermarket, a lifelong dream?
S34: Yeah, totally. It was. It’s proved to be the very zenith of my career. Yeah, no, it was a sense of seeing basically all of my actual sporting engagements as a play-by-play commentator falling out of the calendar as more and more sport got postponed or cancelled and decided to go for a bit of a walk, filmed a couple of guys playing about soccer on the on the common and and then thought, well, I could just sit here and do a bit of voiceover on this, use a kind of old ham commentary voice that I used to used to use at a 15 years or so ago as a bit of a joke thought basically about five or six of my followers might find it slightly entertaining. And then I’ve gone more viral than coronavirus. So yeah, I’m also actually quite interested. I need to ask you guys on that side of the pond, do you know what dogging refers to?
S9: No, I’m not familiar with the term.
S35: Excellent. I’m going to let you look that up in an urban dictionary. Obviously, it was a nice reference to there being a couple of dogs running around. But to Brits, that word has a slightly different meaning. So I thought I thought if it reached an international audience, it would be quite fun for those on on the American side of the pond to perhaps not quite know what it’s referring to, a research project for all of us.
S26: So you’re creeping on people or just out and about and then are you recording the commentary afterwards when you get home?
S34: The first couple I did in situ and then yeah, I mean as I was a little closer to, people thought it might be less acceptable for me to be talking about them more at them around them. So yeah. So I just I took them home and then just. Yeah. Whacked out a quick voiceover and and stuck them up. Didn’t take too much time over over them to be honest. I think part of the nature of wanting it to sound as Leive and spontaneous as possible is is not to sit there scripting, it is just to just to stick it down and away you go. Although it’s interesting, you know, as I said, it’s got more viral and the demands for people have done. We need more we need more levity in our lives during these unprecedented times. It’s like, okay, this is good. But A, people are going into quarantine. And B, people are going to start noticing me standing on street corners, just filming them randomly. So, yeah, there’s sort of a bit of trickery to it that I need to master if I’m going to use anymore material.
S6: Well, yeah. Nick, I was curious to know, has anybody noticed themselves in the videos and reached out to you or said, hey, that was me, the leggings that won the the race across the street.
S34: Yeah. Three time champion. Yeah, I know they haven’t. Is the answer. I’ve sort of tried to film them in a way that doesn’t really show people’s faces too much because I think that’s only consider it. Nobody has has authorised themselves to be in these videos in a modern release form world solar. If anybody had a problem with it I would I would quite quickly take the video down. I don’t want to do an infringe on anybody, but, um. But yeah, the idea is to is to just get the backs of people or be slightly further enough away that nobody feels too exposed by by what they’re seeing. But hopefully the film and the and the cadence of the audio is enough for people to to be duped into thinking there’s some kind of real sporting occasion taking place.
S36: Joel, you mentioned the I think that was the 2020 crossroad dash, if I’m not mistaken, that when we listen to that one. And then, Nick, tell us a little bit about what you were thinking.
S32: When you when you recorded the voice over for that already crossroad dash light turns to red. We wait for the beeps that are now then JD Sports. But he’s got a decent start. Leggings on the outside. Oh, JD was distracted over the shoulder and leggings just got together. Oh, she does it again. Three titles in three days off past Vegas Gold for the lap of honour victorious.
S35: So that was quite near the sort of center of tooting or an area called Tooting Broadway. For those people that know London, it’s in southwest London. It is always busy in Tooting. There was just there’s a very strong or over the years has been a very strong Indian, Sri Lankan, Bangladeshi community. A lot of Polish people around here as well. And yeah, I just I knew that if I went out to that crossroads that there would be enough people getting going. And ultimately, when you’re sat there, you’ve you’ve got the beeps, you’ve got the lights. It’s actually a proper stop go scenario. It’s like the start of a race. So so why not treat it as well?
S27: This is probably an extremely ignorant question, but I have to ask. I actually thought then I thought two had in common was a made up name. I thought it was a take on like Teuton Common liking to quit two to come is the name of the place.
S35: Oh I really should have made it. Made it. Yeah. Funny. Okay. Basically, yeah. No it is actually a place. Yeah.
S26: So the economics of coronavirus, I mean this is this is devastating for people around the world. You’re losing work. You lost work. What is your situation and do you typically work on a contract basis or do you have any kind of income coming in at this point?
S37: Well, the gig started to go and I could see the equivalent of, let’s say four, five months worth of mortgage payments were disappearing from from my income, which obviously was worrying. I think many of us hoped that this could be a two, three, four week hiatus and then a case and things might be cancelled or postponed. But but most of it would come back straightaway. But obviously, we’ve seen seasons now. Ben Ben cancelled. Fallon and I think some tournaments and championships might try and resurrect themselves in the summer. But yeah, I think for a lot of them there’s so much uncertainty. We don’t know when the sport’s coming back in and it’s a case of sort of trying to keep the faith. Also, the further that these life Coventry videos go. Don’t know if anyone’s gonna ever take me seriously as a commentator again. But but yeah, it’s a really uncertain time. What’s been what’s been incredibly humbling is that, you know, I put a post up just to my pal Link that said, look, if these things have made you laugh. You’re very welcome to stick near of a of a price for a cup of coffee or a beer into the pot. And a lovely amount of people have done it. Certainly probably put in a couple of months worth of income for me, which has been extraordinary. So I found and found a way to make a bit of revenue. I’ve also done a couple of little online live stream pub quizzes from my YouTube channel, which I sort of did for family and friends. But the word spread after I did the first one and about 900 people joined me for the second one. So I’ve sort of yeah, out of nothing managed to find find a way to get a bit of income. But beyond that sport and the whole surrounding area around it is is huge. And whether it’s on the production side, whether it’s people in radio and TV and the riggers and the the people who operate the cameras, and then in the sports teams themselves, the people in the social media departments, the marketing, the the security. There are so many jobs that rely on sport. And it’s it’s devastating for huge amounts of people who are now locked away, sat at home, and for many of them on the gig economy are seeing seeing their livelihoods put on hold.
S38: And as entertainment, it sort of refocuses us all as to how much sports matter to us and what role they play in our lives. And I’m curious a little bit over here in the states, the NBA kick things off when Rudy go bare tested positive and the league immediately shut down. England was a little slower with the Premier League and other sports to acknowledge the reality of the spread of the virus and how it was going to impact sports and whether they should continue. Did you notice a difference over there in terms of how people reacted to the loss of sport and did they want it to continue despite the news?
S35: There was a bit of a split. You’ve always got a section of people in society around these kind of things that think they’re impervious to it, that think that they’re bulletproof.
S34: And I think you guys have had it over there with the film, with, you know, videos that we’ve seen of all the kids out as spring break who seem to be paying no attention to it. We’ve had similar people out in the bars here at times who’ve just said, look, I don’t know. This is a bar in the middle of Manchester. There’s no way the virus is in there. And you just head in hands like, what on earth are you talking about? This thing needs to be contained and you’ve got no idea where it is sports wise. My last women’s six nations game, the the annual Rugby Union International Tournament that takes place in February March. My third game of the five game series was well, five weekend series was towards the end of February 22nd. Had a weekend of premiership highlights commentary the week after that, and then my next game was due to be Scotland against France, and there was a a Scotland women’s player who tested positive for four covered 19. So that one got wiped and a very similar time we started seeing everything else going down as well. So, yeah, I think at that stage, the fans and most people started to go, look, we shouldn’t be going to live sporting events here. We shouldn’t be getting into big crowds. And I think it did take a few governing bodies a little longer to believe that they had to take that action. They are probably because ultimately they knew of the financial burden it would be. And I think we’re all discovering certainly, you know, rugby clubs and rugby league clubs and some football clubs as well, actually, how hand to mouth sport can be despite the revenue, despite the TV money, despite the sponsorship, actually. Once you stop having people coming in through the gates, these clubs are struggling to make ends meet.
S12: Nick, well, what would your schedule actually look like right now if everything was back to normal and you were going to work and no games were being played? Like what would this week have looked like for you this very week?
S35: I would be about four miles down the road from from my house near Wimbledon. I would be commentating on the largest schools sevens tournament in the world, which runs every day over the course of the week and is fully live.
S34: So that would’ve been my gig this week. And obviously that had to go. And yeah, we would have just finished the Six Nations in the men’s competition, on the women’s competition. And then, yeah, I think I had some Tyrrell’s premier 15s, which is the women’s premiership that was that was due to come up. Then we would have been leading into semi-finals, the London Sevens from the HSBC well seven series that I was actually going to be the stadium announcer for that for a couple of a couple of days of that tournament that’s gone. And so, yeah, it’s it’s been everything’s been wiped out. We don’t know when we’re going to watch sport again. And yeah, I think basically, you know, come back come back in about three months time and we’ll have full graphics and co commentary analysis on these two blokes in the park.
S30: So what is your philosophy on sports commentary? Because get the sense that watching these videos, it’s not necessarily the same neck that we were here in a rugby union match. But, you know, this is just one of the many things in sports that I think we don’t realise how important it is and how much we miss it and how integral it is. Broadcaster Because I think there is some school of thought that the commentator is best when he kind of blends under the background and hasn’t noticed which. And that’s now where you gonna do in the phono in ads, see it with the blonde girls qualifier. But but what has this kind of made you think about it or realise in terms of, you know, your job and how you try to do it?
S34: Yeah, I think there’s no real there’s no recent realization. I think I have long seen commentary as being a part of the big picture. I think most of our greatest moments in sport are there is great because the right commentators have said the right lines at the right moment. I don’t mean the commentators should be front and centre. Certainly he is in the clips I’m doing because I think he’s bringing the sporting sound and cadence and ambience to it where there is none. And I think that’s the kind of juxtaposition of the on the banality that’s making it work. But I actually to to delve into a moment of self-promotion, actually a podcast of my own called Q COMMENTATOR, where I’ve sat down with so far nine well-known British commentator voices. And that is sort of my my opus. I sit with an hour for each of them and discuss not their famous lines, but actually why do you do what you do? How do you do what you do? What’s the preparation that goes into it? Do things spring to your mind the moment you’re about to say them or. And it differs between sport. You’ve got horse racing where you know that the horses are coming up to the finish line and you’ve got a bill to that moment and have the right lines to say. And and you might have someone who’s 20, 30 yards out ahead of somebody else. But then you’ve got something like soccer where it’s hugely explosive. A shot can go from 30 yards out from nothing and suddenly a team goes into the lead. And commentators have got to learn to react in the right way or see see the moment coming up on the horizon and know that they’ve got to nail that moment particularly well. And it fascinated me to speak to some of the best in the business and find out from them how do they do that, how much pre-thought goes into it, what they’ve liked that they’ve done, what they’ve maybe disliked or would like to do again, which is a surprising amount of them. It’s quite reassuring as a as a commentator who’s maybe, you know, got less experience than some of the older guys on the circuit to hear them say, oh, there’s loads I’d love to go back and do again. But yeah, the commentary and and the atmosphere of the crowd, everything is is a big part of sport. And I think, yeah, we are seeing sort of people realise what a big part sport plays in their life lives. I was I was in a bar just last weekend before things were really shutting down, but there was virtually no sport on the TV or anything. And normally they’d have, you know, our satellite broadcaster over here, Sky would have their afternoon show. Which is them going round the grounds and getting the constant updates from all the games, well, that wasn’t on the t_v_’s weren’t on. And you’ve never seen more tables full of blokes staring at each other in the face, not knowing what to do with themselves.
S39: Nic, before we let you go, I want I want to play one more. I don’t know. Two lonely blokes in a park final. What was what would you like to hear one more time?
S34: Sure. We could go with that one. I mean, that’s that was the one that kicked it all off their debts.
S39: Alright. Let’s play that coming out of that one. You sort of walk us through the what we might be missing as Americans here. Are you paying omarjan any English commentators? Is there an ironic take on someone in particular that’s famous in England that you’ve been that you’ve admired or people sort of turned to a sort of the quintessential sports broadcaster?
S40: I think probably the voice delivery is as a as a master to a few. I mean, one of the one of the guys I interview, my very first interview on Q commentator was with Barry Davis and Barry was with the BBC for 50 years. He would be the regular commentator on he was a match of the day, the regular Saturday night soccer highlights show over here.
S34: He also would do the Wimbledon tennis and he would sort of he has that very back of the throat sort of sound sort of, you know, and his research would be second to none, but he would be capable of finishing, you know, his commentary after a 25 shot rally between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal would finish and the crowd goes bananas. It would be the most amazing thing. And Barry was able to sum it up just by going. And that’s just as a fan, you’re watching it. And you’re like, yeah, it’s just it’s just magic. And he’s come up with plenty more in football. I mean, he’s had one. You have to say. And that’s magnificent. And you do. And you did. And and I think I think it’s a quality that comes actually vocally. If I was to get really technical on using the Coles lit mikes, which are those standard kind of commentator mikes, and I think it sort of can force the voice to the back of the throat a little better’n and then as soon as you just make it extra commentator and excite and then and it’s just it’s almost it’s almost conveying excitement before there is any. And I think that’s maybe the twist in in the carrot to those sort of put across is that he’s just excited to be there. He’s got his flask of coffee and I think could happen. Let’s see what will happen. And that’s kind of just, you know, where he comes from.
S41: Well, you join me here alive to sing common and list the final of the two lonely blokes in a park contest. And that was absolutely terrible. So we’ve come to expect really from these two. I’ve been here for some time here. Runners in the distance, not keeping enough distance, frankly, while these two utterly useless looking forward to the third, fourth place play off later.
S39: Nic, I understand you’re aware that one of America’s most famous play by play guys has borrowed your idea. I guess imitation is the highest form of flattery is Joe Bach, who does a lot of baseball and football and other sports. You must be honored if you knew who Joe back was.
S34: Yeah, well, my next he was a Q commentators. Clearly going to be going stateside, hasn’t it? Yeah, look. Imitation is great form of flattery. It’s not it’s not probably the most original idea going out and commentating on the banal and the everyday. So there’s no copyright on that. And I think Joe’s taken requests as well. So, you know, fair play to him for having the time to field all those. My mentions and things have been going off the scale since people, you know, felt the need to to have a moment of levity through through the bit of fun that I’ve put across. And I’m just, you know, humbled and delighted to have been able to to do that for people. And I’m sure Joe will have a lot of fun doing what he’s doing.
S39: Nick Heath is a rugby play-by-play commentator in England. He’s also the creator of Hashtag Life Commentary. Put a quid in his beer mug at Nick Heath Sport on Twitter. Nick, thanks so much.
S34: Those guys really love you. Spend time with you and keep up the good work.
S26: Now it is time for After Balls and thank you again to Nick Heath for joining us and for providing us with a little bit of sunshine in a dark time in world history. Let us offer yet another tribute to Nick Stefan. One of the videos that we did not highlight was the international four by four pushchair formation final. I think maybe that should be our after ball honoree this week.
S4: Yeah, that’s a good one, too. It’s for women pushing strollers in a park. I think a Swedish team wins as they often do.
S26: All right. Joel, what is your international four-by-four pushchair formation final?
S6: So last week, a friend of mine from ESPN made what I thought was an innocuous suggestion about the now forever incomplete 2019 2020 college basketball season.
S19: But dude, Myron Mid-calf tweeted as follows. Quote, No one in the final polls.
S1: Number one, in all the metrics that matter, I think Kansas deserves a twenty nineteen, twenty, twenty national title and the banner that comes with it under the current circumstances, you never know. I get it. But someone should get the crown. Kansas deserves it. End quote. Now, maybe we can quibble with Myron’s usage of the verb deserves, but on the whole, it seems a reasonable argument. The Kansas Jayhawks finish the season. No one would have been the presumptive number one overall seed in the tournament in over 32 game. Representative sample size Kansas showed again and again that it was the best team in the country. As expected, migrants’ tweet got a lot of pushback and it was a kind of amazing to watch. Either a lot of people really don’t like Kansas or Bill Self or they are totally invested in the idea that a single elimination tournament is the best way to determine a champion. And I get it here in America, we’ve all grown up with the idea that what happens in the regular season doesn’t matter. We judge our athletes and our teams on their championships. It’s why Michael Jordan was considered a selfish ball hog until he and the Chicago Bulls finally broke through for a championship in his seventh season. It’s why six Super Bowl championships have elevated Tom Brady, the aforementioned Tom Brady. And one of our segments ahead of a lot of similarly are even more gifted NFL quarterbacks. It’s why we remember Danny Manning and the Miracles in 1988 and not the Oklahoma team that is easily beaten Kansas twice earlier that year. And it’s why Golden State Warriors for Draymond Green, a three time NBA champion, felt comfortable dismissing the mockery of Hall of Famer Charles Barkley, a zero time champion in their recent back and forth through the media. Here’s Draymond Green talking about Charles in better days for all of us.
S42: On March 6th, he also talked basketball. Smart enough, not qualified. No rings. Carson rings.
S1: Now, just as a reminder, Charles Barkley was the nineteen ninety three NBA MVP, an 11 time all star and definitely somewhere in the top five NBA power force of all time. Draymond Green is a good player, a three time All-Star and even the twenty seventeen NBA defensive player of the year. But he’s not Charles Barkley and that’s how silly rings culture has gotten. It doesn’t matter that Charles was a superior player. It doesn’t matter that one and done tournament’s a much more about entertainment than determining the best team. And we know this because it happens a lot. The Washington Nationals won the World Series as a wildcard. The NFL is best team lost to a sixth seed in the divisional round this year. Even Virginia won the most recent NCW, a men’s title, despite having lost twice to Duke. That year saw as a result, we couldn’t possibly name Kansas the champion of the most recent NCW Double-A men’s basketball season because he didn’t emerge from the oh so random crucible of March Madness. Unless you’re a man, we should all aspire to be Steve Spurrier. You remember, though, ball coach Spurrier made his name and fame in 12 years at the University of Florida, but he obviously cost a lot of other places, including, most recently, the Orlando apollos of the Alliance of American Football. He’s been a trendsetter in a lot of ways, but his final act as a coach might have been the most impressive. The AFL ceased operations last year after its eighth week of games, filing for bankruptcy after a really promising start. So there would be no end to the regular season, no playoffs and obviously no championship game. Thus, at the end of the complete year, the team with the best record was spurrier’s apollos.
S43: You know, it’s very you did so well, disappointed, but now sad where we’ve got to be the champs, right where Sandeman won and the next teams are 5 and 3. So.
S1: So it makes sense. The season is over. You go with the team with the best record. And the apollos were serious. They went out and bought Spurrier a championship ring. The best record in a ring. Who could argue with the logic? So you know what you must do. Kansas and the University of South Carolina. Women’s hoops and of course, the undefeated Houston Roughnecks of the XFL Milwaukee Bucks. You might want to call up a jeweler just in case.
S25: Josh, what’s your international for? Buy for pushchair formation final.
S30: Let’s all take a moment to pause and reflect on the challenges faced by our nation’s sports broadcasters. We already heard from Nick Heath, you know, and we know that there’s wide open blocks of programming on these channels that we typically watched. They’re showing classic games on ESPN and CBS. They’re showing all 30 for 30 documentaries. ESPN showed WrestleMania 30 on Sunday night, a sign of desperation, perhaps. Fox Sports 1 broadcast a virtual NASCAR race in which you ask actual NASCAR drivers raised using simulation rigs. These are weird times that we’re living on for inspiration. Let’s look to the 76ers Tobias Harris, who’s posting on Instagram as F.B. NBA season was still ongoing. Harris praised his teammate Joel Embiid for stepping up and leading the team to victory in a game that did not happen. He then wrote a long caption congratulating Matear stable on his imaginary career night, which included imaginary lockdown defense in the fourth quarter.
S44: Harris added Ask for the stats. So I’m going to ask What were the stats? Tobias What were the stats? Tobias You need to tell us. If we’re gonna be inspired by Tobias Harris, then Tobias Harris should be inspired by the 1982 New Orleans Saints. That year, 1982 featured a 57 day player strike, which meant no games, which meant no broadcasts of games on television or radio or any other medium. But as Dave Walker recounted in a 2012 story for the Times-Picayune w_ GSO AM 12 Eighty. They were undaunted. Actually, WGRZ would not have been broadcasting the games if they were happening. They’d lost out on the broadcast rights to WWL. It 70m 50000 watts. So this was a chance for WGRZ to get back into the nonexistant game. Tim Brando, a guy whose name you may recognize, he was the play by play man for these fake games, these taped. Crowd noise and audio pre-recorded audio from bands. There’s a sideline reporter giving fake reports from the fake sidelines. There is a fake referee calling out fake penalties. The hero of this non-existent Sayd season was Guido Merkins. Merkins was the Haysom hell of his day. Do you remember Guido Murken, Stefan? I do remember the name. You remember the name? It’s a good name. He was a punt returner, slash quarterback, slash holder, slash receiver, slash safety slash punter.
S24: That, to be clear, was in real football, not fake football. Guido, Americans actually played all those positions. He would come into a game and save them, explained Bill Wagdy, the guy who scripted the fake broadcast. Now, to be clear, Wagdy is now talking about the fake Guido Merkins, the fake sanes fake MVP. He could pine. He could catch balls. He could quarterback. I don’t remember why we had him doing, but I remember Guido Merkins being very valuable. So in this story in 2012, Tim brandao said that he swore he has tapes of the phantom broadcasts somewhere in his Shreveport attic. Though he wasn’t able to find them during recent recent searches. Now I can imagine the Tim brandao has nothing to do right now but to look in his attic for these tapes. So, Tam, I’m gonna tweet at you. We demand to hear the 1982 ST’s inactions. Guido Merkins heroics must be honor. The Saints finished four and five that year. They ended up playing nine games in the real NFL. They’re out of the playoffs, but with fate. Guido, they could have gone far. brandao released the tapes.
S45: That is our show for today. Our producer is Melissa Kaplan. Posner pashas and subscribe or just reach out to Slate.com slash hang up. You can e-mail us at Hang-Up at Slate.com. You’re still here. You might want even more. Hang up and listen. And I’m going to segment this week. We talked about what the NBA can do to keep us entertained.
S46: The reality is that a lot of football is bad. And I think that’s kind of true of the NBA. Like normally, you know, we watched most of us engage with the NBA on our own terms. We watch a team we want to see only cast. There is a game, a big showdown between the Lakers and the Clippers on a Sunday afternoon. And that’s awesome. Do you really want to see like Spencer Dinwiddie versus, you know, PJ Tucker?
S45: Hear that conversation jointly. Plus, it’s just thirty five dollars for the first year. You can sign up at slate.com slash hang up plus for Joel Anderson and Stefan FATSIS. I’m Josh Levine remembers Olmo Obeidy.
S47: And thanks for listening.
S48: Now it is time for our bonus segment for Slate Plus members and Adam Silver. Last week did an interview with Rachel Nichols on ESPN where he suggested maybe the NBA could put on some sort of outbreak event. He said people are stuck at home. I think they need a diversion. Are there conditions in which a group of players could compete? Maybe it’s for a giant fund raiser or just the collective good of the people where you take a subset of players. Is there a protocol that they can be tested and quarantined and isolated in some way and they could compete against one another? We haven’t heard any thing since then from Solwara. We have heard, though, from Ice Cube. Ice Cube. The answer to this question is, yes, we can do this and we should do this. Ice Cube is the proprietor of the Big Three, the 3 on 3 league and reportedly door. He plans to quarantine some number of players in a big house in Los Angeles, have a soundstage and have them play basketball on camera for entertainment. You’re shaking your head, which I think means that you think that’s a great idea.
S6: Yeah. I mean, it doesn’t sound safe or interesting.
S27: ASADA doesn’t say if, but it was interesting you’d be onboard. I might be into it. But I mean, you can’t get me to watch the big three in its current incarnation. So I just can’t imagine all there’s nothing else on.
S36: You’ll be so desperate, Joel, to sea for now. Yeah, I wouldn’t watch the XFL. There were some L.A. police choppers posting video of dudes on the Venice Beach and I was watching that.
S8: Yeah. I mean, maybe I’m the wrong guy to ask. I haven’t had TV.
S6: I mean, I don’t mean to be the. I’m not a TV person, but I don’t watch TV. If there’s nothing on it, I’m not going to like pretend like something is interesting. And so you can’t make me watch the big three can’t make me watch, you know, Joe Johnson go against, you know, Kendrick Perkins in some sort of tournament. And pretend to me that that’s entertaining just because nothing else is on. You can’t fool me, Ice Cube. I know that this isn’t real basketball.
S36: Stop it. And Kendrick, particularly so weekend that he’s going to drop 75 pounds, he’s gonna be in NBA shape, let alone big three shape.
S8: Nobody wanted to watch Kendrick Perkins when you played in the NBA. And I like Kendrick Perkins. I recognize his value. He’s also a southeast Texas kid, Quintana says.
S49: But I don’t want to say that Kendrick don’t recognizes your value.
S8: I interview Kendrick Perkins twice when he was in high school. So I’m fixing you know, he’s an interesting dude.
S48: So, Stefan, feel free to add your thoughts on the big three. Well, we have not. We’ve moved the goalposts. The basket stanchion here. So. So now we’re at the point where saying we don’t want to watch Kendrick Perkins. That’s not really the issue that could or should the NBA be trying to do something or put something together?
S50: Well, in the Big Three’s announcement, I think it will. I don’t if it was Ice Cube that was quoted, someone is quoted saying that they would get all these guys tested. Which raises the on appealing notion or politically bad idea that we’re gonna start testing big three players so that we can put them in quarantine and let them play bad basketball or, you know, good basketball by average person standards, but bad basketball by NBA standards.
S39: I don’t think we should be testing like, you know, I don’t think we should be using tests on big three players for our entertainment. I mean, the NBA has already taken a lot of heat for having the ability to go out and get its own players tested when they visited Arkansas.
S48: As you noted, the NBA has already been testing these guys. So let’s let’s instead of like let’s try to create a scenario in which we might actually consider doing this. Let’s say there is a pool of players that has tested negative. Okay. And 19 that is willing to do this. Do you think that this is something the NBA should do or pursue? I mean, silver is right that people need to be entertained. And I think that if there was something like this happening, people could enjoy it and want to watch.
S51: Yeah. I mean, the question is what? I mean, let’s I mean, Joel’s Joel scrunching up his face. I think people would watch this. I mean, I watched the one on one competition in the 1970s.
S39: Jo Jo White was awesome at one on one, as I recall. One on one, as I recall. I mean, I could see something like that. I mean, there are there is an optics issue here. If we’re telling everybody to socially just you got dudes bang. And even if they’ve already tested negative, I’m not sure that sends a good image of the NBA at this point is going to want to foster in people’s minds. You know, when when Adam Silver said this a few days ago, maybe it was you know, it didn’t feel that way. Now, I think people’s people’s impressions of what’s appropriate and what isn’t right now have shifted and will continue to shift as the gravity of the spread increases and the government’s ability, inability to do something about it becomes more and more stark as it has every day. So what could you do? Maybe it is. One on one, maybe it isn’t three on three or five on five. Maybe it is. Skills competitions or maybe it’s horse or maybe it’s something. But now my face is gonna start scrunching because I’m not sure a horse is what I want to watch.
S8: We talked about this a few months ago, maybe a couple of months ago when we were discussing the NFL expanding to a 17th game and we said at the time. The reality is that a lot of football is bad. And I think that’s kind of true of the NBA.
S6: Like, normally, you know, we watch most of us engage with the NBA on our own terms. We watch a team we want to see on League Pass. There’s a game, you know, a big showdown between the Lakers and the Clippers on a Sunday afternoon. And that’s awesome. Do you really want to see like Spencer Dinwiddie versus, you know, PJ Tucker? You know, in some sort of a tie? I mean, I mean, maybe.
S49: Do you think ability to convert the ball? Yeah, yeah, yeah.
S48: First of all, all you need to understand that there are people out there in America who aren’t like you, who do want to watch what whatever is on TV, who are desperately missing sports. And the thing that Nick Green suggested and maybe this is the thing that I can get Joel to agree on, because, Tom, a really fun challenge for me is a socially distanced slam dunk contest where you actually get LeBron to do a dunk contest for the first time. You get Zion in there. They’re each doing it on their own. They’re not in an arena with anybody else. They’re like they have access to like private gems and rams or whatever.
S4: I think LeBron has a gym in his house. I don’t think I would be hard for him.
S48: They can be practicing these dunks. They can get input from fans. You could like have a bracket of players from every team. You could do it as a fundraiser. I mean, a team that seems like something that is both in the realm of possibility and would actually be interesting to watch. Joel Anderson, your thoughts?
S8: I probably would watch it because everybody else would. But I mean, the simple fact of the matter is dunk tests are rarely as entertaining as we think they’re going to be, which is why we’re always surprised when in a great without being a party pooper here, what I would be interested in is seeing the build up to the dunk contest.
S12: Like, I think it’s actually interesting whenever I see LeBron or some NBA player going, I ju I’ve been just talking or just like I’m getting to see a glimpse of their life.
S8: That is fascinating to me. I’ll watch them talk live their lives. That shit is cool. Them going through the contrivance of a dunk contest.
S12: I think that it would probably it probably would be successful in terms of like viewership and everything else. Would it be entertaining? Who knows? But that very rarely matters in sports anyway, because people have watched it regardless.
S4: So you telling me you would rather watch LeBron and his families tick tock over the weekend than you would LeBron or Al Young?
S8: Hell yeah. Dude, I watch that sports. And when he shouted out the dude from Sports Center, the new guy that runs the Sports Center social media account, and he’s sitting there with his, you know, Savannah in the background and little Bryce coming in. And I’m like, oh, I’m looking at LeBron where I’m at Taco Tuesday. You know, that’s cool. I don’t know that. I want to see him when he’s intense and playing hoop need meet him to do this dunk shit. But I will admit, Josh is right. I am unique in this way. And I don’t mean that I’m special. I’m just mean. That takes it was a very high bar for me to clear to get interested in the sport of it.
S4: Is there, Josh, anything that other sports can do that would be similar to a dunk contest that would be appealing to watch? Can baseball do something?
S52: No. Cool. Wow.
S49: There is nothing that any baseball could do that I would be interested in watching right now.
S8: What about Mike Trout taking some swings at top golf or something like that?
S52: Yeah, I think you’ve just really driven home the point there. There’s nothing that baseball is interested in watching it, really. I do think a dunk contest is the only thing that springs to mind that just feels like would work in a socially distanced way and you could actually market as must watch even as Joel said. And I will concede Joe’s point. It might not end up being entertaining, but I think you could get people excited about the possibility of it. And that’s all we need right now, is excitement about the possibility of something. Just give us some excitement. I think maybe next week we should talk about what ESPN and other places are doing, what their programs strategies are, because just like going to ESPN, dicom, you know, draw a lot of the content on there, like the auto play video is just like random LeBron doing stuff on Instagram. Like that is what we’re what we’re seeing. Or like Devin Booker trash-talking somebody playing a video game. I mean, like, this is what sports is right now. It’s like athletes just saying stuff on Instagram.
S6: You know, ESPN in the last couple months hired the guy that built the House of Highlights account and he’s the one running the sports center, whatever that may end up being the free agent acquisition of the year for ESPN, because that is the one way that a lot of people are engaging with this should because there is nothing else going on. And if you’re you’re you’re making Devin Booker playing, you know, live streaming video games content, then, man, let’s leave that for next week.
S52: We got it. We got to we’ve got to save some meat on the bone here. That’s right. So I’m just glad that I won that argument. And I want to thank all the Slate plus members for your membership. We’re back with more next week.