Nike’s new commercial with Rory McIlory and Tiger Woods is (almost) perfect

With the Masters teeing off in just four days, Nike released a new ad starring Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods on Sunday that is one of the best sports commercials I’ve ever seen.

Amazing. 

I just have one problem: where was the scene where McIlroy’s dad walking into a Northern Irish sports book and betting on his 15-year-old son to win the British Open within 10 years?

Serious production error by Nike here, but I’ll let it slide.

Now, if only they somehow convince LeBron and MJ to make their own version of this…

Ranking Every NOW CD (That Matters) Ever

Close your eyes and let your mind travel back to a place you know all too well. You’re in your childhood bedroom and as you turn your head to the shelf, there sits a stack of NOW CD’s. Probably at least the first ten.

Next month, the latest edition will be released. Any idea what number they’re on now?

Fifty-four.

Fifty…

Four.

NOW 10 was released in July 2002, and it was shortly thereafter that iTunes and digital song downloading began wiping CD’s off the market. Those first ten signified something special. They were the ultimate mix-tapes. Before you could pick and choose exactly what songs you wanted on your playlist, NOW did it for you.

As a series, it was perfectly imperfect; for as many hits, there were equally as many misses.

Naturally, I spent the nicest Saturday of the year so far on my couch putting together an entirely too extensive but 100% necessary look back at those first ten albums.

I had to come up with an objective scale to appropriately grade each one. Here are the categories:

First Song, Best Song, Worst Song, Defining Stretch.

You’ll see why these come into play as we go.

#10: NOW 8

Now 8

First Song: “Bootylicious” (F)

Best Song: “U Got It Bad” (A)

Usher followed up his 1997 album My Way — which produced “You Make Me Wanna” — with 8701, led by “U Got It Bad”.

There’s honestly a reasonable argument for about seven different Usher songs that can say they’re his best ever (I feel another blog post coming!), but I’d go with this one. This is Usher at his best.

Worst Song: “Someone To Call My Lover” – Janet Jackson (D-)

It was hard to pick just one. See below.

Defining Stretch: 

2. “Pop” – NSYNC

3. “I’m Real” – Jennifer Lopez

I’m really reaching here. If I could choose between saving 1,000 starving third-world children or burning every Now 8 CD ever made…I would save the kids. But I’d think about it for a second.

Verdict:

There are honestly more bad songs than good ones on NOW 8. I actually went back to check and see if there was some kind of Producers’ Strike in the music industry around the time this CD came out. It’s like they completely forgot what got them here. It would be like if after the Lakers won three straight titles Shaq decided the next season he was just going to shoot nothing but three’s. That’s how bad Now 8 is.

#9: NOW 1

Now 1

First Song: “Together Again” – Janet Jackson (C)

Best Song: “Mmmbop” – Hanson (A+)

Worst Song: “Never Ever” – All Saints (F)

Defining Stretch: 

8. “If You Could Only See” – Tonic

9. “Mmmbop” – Hanson

10. “Zoot Suit Riot” – Cherry Poppin’ Daddies

Tough to pick a solid stretch on this album, which is honestly one of its biggest flaws. To make a great NOW CD, the whole must be greater than the sum of its parts. It needs flow. The OG NOW had no such flow. But hey, take a timeless classic like “Mmmbop” and sandwich it between two playable tracks and call it a day.

Verdict:

You’re probably hating me while you read this right now, but NOW’s debut just didn’t do it for me. Rome wasn’t built in a day, though, and neither was a Mixtape Empire. These things take time. For example, burying “Sex & Candy” by Marcy Playground in the 17th and final slot was a textbook rookie mistake. You need to close strong, but leaving perhaps your best track until the end on an otherwise clunky set list is just amateur stuff. Maybe they underestimated the song’s staying power. Maybe they thought if they put it at the end, kids may not get that far? I don’t know.

#8: NOW 9

Now 9

First Song: “Get The Party Started/Sweet Dreams” – Pink featuring Redman (C)

Not the best showing from Pink. Covering an 80’s classic and not covering it well. The weakest First Song in this group.

Best Song: “Rollout (My Business)” – Ludacris (A)

LUDA. This song made me feel so much cooler than I really was. You’s a SUPER star boy! That was me!

Worst Song: “Just Push Play” – Aerosmith (F-)

If in 1988 I told you that one day Aerosmith would be on an album with Ginuwine, Ja Rule and Petey Pablo you would have punched me in the groin. Aerosmith would have KILLED the NOW game in its hey-day, but this mid-to-late-life crisis the band went through with this song and “Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing” (NOT a good song FYI) should have never seen the light of day.

Keep getting those checks Steven Tyler.

Defining Stretch:

2. “I’m a Slave 4 U” – Britney Spears

3. “Family Affair” – Mary J. Blige

4. “Whenever, Wherever” – Shakira

We bore witness to the beginning of Spears going completely off the reservation, and before we had time to truly process how she got from the Mickey Mouse Club to there, we were bobbing our heads to Mary J. Blige. All was right.

And if you don’t like Shakira…

Verdict:

All great dynasties must come to an end sooner or later, and after maintaining perfection for essentially five straight albums from 3-7, NOW 8 sought to destroy everything they had set out to gain before.

NOW 9 rebounded nicely. It won’t go down as one of the greats, but it had enough heavy hitters to give the franchise reason to believe there was a light at the end of the tunnel.

#7: NOW 2

Now 2

First Song: “…Baby One More Time” – Britney Spears (A+)

They cracked the code here. Arguably the best leadoff hitter NOW ever had.

You want to know when this little boy became a man?

HIT ME BABY ONE MORE TIME

Best Song: “Closing Time” – Semisonic (A++)

Some of you know about my Top 100 Songs list. If you don’t, it’s a list of my top 100 songs. Closing Time is Number 1. This song is everything. Age six was by FAR the best year of my life. If I could freeze myself at any point in time, it would be 1996, I’m staring at the Drew Bledsoe poster on my wall and listening to Closing Time on repeat forever. Life would be good.

Worst Song: “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen) (Radio Edit)” – Baz Luhrmann (Whatever is worse than F)

I probably listened to this CD 500 times and I had absolutely no idea this song was on it. Who is Baz Luhrmann? I thought for a second this was the band that sings “She’s So High,” – a TERRIFIC SONG — nope, that’s Tal Bachman. This is the moment I realized the only thing this CD needed was Tal Bachman. That’s a hell of a sentence.

Defining Stretch:

14. “Father of Mine” – Everclear

15. “What I Got” – Sublime

16. “I’ll Never Break Your Heart” – Backstreet Boys

17. “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem) (Radio Edit)” – Jay Z

You’ve got one of Everclear’s two biggest hits, one of the most iconic 90’s songs ever, a Backstreet Boys song and HOVA. An uneven first half of the CD closed extremely strong with this one….until the whole Baz Luhrmann Experiment. Seriously can we just pretend that never happened?

Verdict:

A much-needed improvement from NOW 1, we started to see the makings of a dynasty with this collection. It wasn’t perfect, but it showed enough flashes of brilliance to let you know an historic run was on the horizon…

#6: NOW 7

Now 7

First Song: “Survivor” – Beyonce Destiny’s Child (A)

NOW went bold with this edition, giving the first five tracks to female artists. You can’t make a move like that and NOT give Destiny’s Child’s greatest hit the lead-off honors. The rest of the first five:

2. “All for You” – Janet Jackson

3. “Baby, Come Over (This Is Our Night)” – Samantha Mumba

4. “In My Pocket” – Mandy Moore

5. “Play” – Jennifer Lopez

Can we talk about Samantha Mumba having two songs make it on NOW CD’s? Samantha Mumba should not have more songs on NOW CD’s than the Beatles, and the Beatles have zero.

Best Song: “Ride Wit Me” – Nelly (A+)

I can single-handedly point to this song as my inspiration for being as rich as possible in my life. Must be the money!

Is now a good time to point out that I’m blogging about NOW CD’s? No? Great.

Worst Song: “Playas Gon’ Play” – 3LW (D-)

The only reason I picked this here is because it reminds me of Taylor Swift and everything about Taylor Swift’s music is horrible.

Defining Stretch: 

10. “Fiesta Remix” – R. Kelly featuring Jay-Z and Boo & Gott

11. “Let Me Blow Ya Mind” – Eve featuring Gwen Stefani

12. “What Would You Do?” – City High

Combine the filthy beat drop in “Blow Ya Mind” with the only song about prostitution that you feel like you could sing along to in the car with your parents, and R. Kelly, and you have a nice little three-song run. When you think of the best songs of the early 2000’s, “Let Me Blow Ya Mind” probably doesn’t come to mind very quickly, but it should. An underrated classic.

Verdict:

This is an extremely popular pick as the greatest NOW CD ever. I’m not ready to give it that title. It’s too sappy.  Between starting off with five straight Girl Power jams and tossing in ballads like “Never Had a Dream Come True”, “Hanging By A Moment”, “This I Promise You”, I’m convinced that there was not a single man in the room when this CD was made. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I can’t crown a CD that has so many slow-dance songs as the best ever.

#5: NOW 10

Now 10

First Song: “Overprotected” – Britney Spears (D)

I was about to say the most unbreakable record on earth is the one Spears holds for Most First Songs on NOW CD’s. It feels like she has 20. She has only three. It’s actually tied for the second-most with Pink and the Black Eyed Peas (Rihanna is on 3, but one of them is just as a featured artist).

Any guesses who’s number one?

Here are your options:

A) Beyonce

B) Katy Perry

C) Pharell

D) Justin Timberlake

If you guessed B, you win! Katy Perry has FIVE. And that’s including two of the last five. So it’s still the most unbreakable record, but this is Katy’s crown, not Britney’s.

Best Song: “First Date” – Blink-182 (B+)

I was just young enough when this song came out that I had never been on a date. This song was the closest thing I came to one until I was 20…I mean…14. It holds a special place in my heart.

Worst Song: “Girlfriend” – NSYNC featuring Nelly (D)

Not even the worst collaboration Nelly ever had. Looking at you, Tim McGraw.

Defining Stretch:

8. “Move It Like This” – Baha Men

9. “More Than a Woman” – Aaliyah

10. “Uh Huh” – B2K

11. “Always on Time” – Ja Rule featuring Ashanti

Everyone remembers the Baha Men for “Who Let The Dogs Out,” but “Move It Like This” was a quality follow-up. This could spark an entirely new debate: best second-best song for one-hit wonders. That makes sense, right? “Move It Like This” would be a legitimate contender in that argument.

Verdict:

There are a lot of really good songs on this CD, but there isn’t a great one. You need at least one great song to elevate into the discussion of the elite. Without Tom Brady, the Patriots are just the Dolphins. Without a classic hit, NOW 10 is exactly average.

#4 NOW 3

Now 3

First Song: “All Star” – Smash Mouth (A+)

Best Song: “All Star” – Smash Mouth (A+)

Worst Song: “Chante’s Got a Man” – Chante (F)

Putting your own name in a song is like giving yourself your own nickname (Cough…Dwyane Wade. People don’t forget). I think we can all do without ever listening to, or thinking about, Chante ever again. Okay great.

Defining Stretch:

1. “All Star” – Smash Mouth

2. “American Woman” – Lenny Kravitz

3. “What’s My Age Again?” – Blink-182

4. “Bailamos” – Enrique Iglesias

5. “Sometimes” – Britney Spears

6. “All I Have to Give” – Backstreet Boys

Damn. Now 3 coming in HOT. This is easily the most top-heavy NOW CD in history. A perfect blend of feel-good, head-banging jams with breakout stars and mainstays BSB and Spears. By the way, there is no song on earth that gives you an ENTIRELY different feeling the second you turn a certain age than “What’s My Age Again?”. When all of a sudden you’re looking down at 23, this song is ruined. Hold on while I go do the dishes.

Verdict:

There is absolutely a case for this to top the list of greatest NOW CD’s ever. I just can’t bring myself to hand the title to a disc that can claim the bands Ideal, Oleander, Case, and Chante.

…And I just broke the Chante Rule. Yeah, not the best.

#3: NOW 4

Now 4

First Song: “Larger than Life” – Backstreet Boys (A)

“Bow bow bow wow…”

Just a perfect first four beats for a NOW CD. So Electric. So 90’s. So NOW. This was a landmark moment for the franchise. Suddenly, NOW was self-aware. After a bumpy start, NOW truly was larger than life. The best was yet to come.

Best Song: “Blue (Da Ba Dee)” – Eiffel 65 (A+)

Find me one person between the age of 25-35 who can’t perfectly recite the chorus to this song on command. You have a better chance of finding someone who knows the first 100 digits of pi than can’t sing the chorus to “Blue.” There are about five songs on this CD that could have earned this title, but you can’t compete with that staying power. Also, if anyone knows what the hell this song is even talking about that would be great. Tweet me @JoshParcell. 

Worst Song: Tie between “Get It On Tonite” – Montell Jordan, & “This Time Around” – Hanson

Two artists/bands that should have stopped while they were ahead. NOW made the critical mistake of giving Jordan/Hanson another chance after producing ageless one-hit wonders.

(Side note: apparently Hanson has a Christmas album that’s pretty good? Can anyone confirm this?)

Defining Stretch:

10. “Try Again” – Aaliyah

11. “Waiting For Tonight” – Jennifer Lopez

When you dig a little deeper at this album, the biggest criticism is it never really has a murderer’s row. That’s what keeps it from being truly elite. “Try Again” and “Waiting for Tonight” is about as solid of a 90’s female Pop R&B duo you could find. It gets a slight edge over the 1-2 punch of “Larger than Life and “(You Drive Me) Crazy”.

Verdict:

Like I said, a lack of quality flow holds this back from claiming All-Time Great status. With heavy-hitters like “Meet Virginia,” “All The Small Things,” “Blue”, and some others mentioned above, NOW 4 is unquestionably a top-five record. Song order matters, and with a little more thought and effort, this could have been the greatest. Work sucks, I know.

#2: NOW 5

Now 5

First Song: “It’s Gonna Be Me” – NSYNC (A-)

So follow me along this wormhole for a second. Obviously I was in love with the girl in the music video for this song (same girl who was the puppeteer in “Bye Bye Bye”). It’s easily the biggest takeaway from this song. Man was she perfect.

So, being the Internet sleuth that I am, I decide to dive deep into the burrows of the Internet (meaning I Googled “It’s Gonna Be Me Music Video Girl”) and discover that her name was Kim Smith. Fun fact: she went to the Friday Night Lights High School! Permian High in Odessa Texas.

HOW WAS SHE NOT IN FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS.

SHE WENT TO THE FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS SCHOOL. SHE’S AN ACTRESS AND OH YEAH A MODEL.

This is without question one of the biggest “What Ifs” in movie history. She did actually appear as someone named Lauren Davis for three episodes in the TV adaptation, so all is not lost. Still, we missed out on greatness. If I could go back in time and give Derrick Rose bionic knee cartilage at birth or give Kim Smith a starring role in Friday Night Lights I would go with Smith 10 times out of 10.

Now I know what you’re thinking…

Screen Shot 2015-04-04 at 4.55.10 PM

Damn. Sorry fellas.

Best Song: “Absolutely (Story of the Girl)” – Nine Days

Shout out to anyone who’s ever stopped beside me at a red light when I’ve been singing this at the top of my lungs with the windows down. You’re welcome.

Worst Song: “Faded” – SoulDecision

Literally the only bad song on the album. The only one. It’s the 2013 Mario Chalmers of NOW 5 songs. “Faded” was absolutely carried by a legendary track list that will never be duplicated again.

Defining Stretch:

15. “Back Here” – BBMak

16. “Absolutely (Story of a Girl)” – Nine Days

17. “Kryptonite” – 3 Doors Down

18. “Wonderful” – Everclear

19. “It’s My Life” – Bon Jovi

It does not get better than this. If you were seven years old and had fallen so deeply in love with a girl from school that “Back Here” was the only song you listened to for days at a time, this was the perfect CD for you. Not that I know.

What a run, though. I can’t hear “Kryptonite” without wanting to run headfirst through a fencepost. Who doesn’t wish they could count to 10 and make everything wonderful again? Just a beautiful five-song stretch that edges out the rest of a loaded lineup to hold this title.

Verdict:

It’s probably a unanimous pick to make the NOW Mount Rushmore. Even if it’s not your all-time favorite, no one’s dropping it out of the top four. I just can’t give it the top spot. Blame SoulDecision.

#1: NOW 6

Now 6

First Song: “Stronger” Britney Spears (A)

Good song that gets a bump because of the kick-ass siren off the top that drops you off a cliff and straight into the canyon of this amazing collection of 19 early 2000’s pop hits. Put this song anywhere else on the album and its an afterthought. Good roster management by NOW. This was its prime.

Best Song: “It Wasn’t Me” – Shaggy (A++++++)

NOW was in such complete Cruise Control Mode at this point that it could get away with having “Independent Woman Part I”, a song about feminism and ***girl power***, only to follow it up with Shaggy telling the story of how he was caught cheating on his girlfriend on every square inch of their house. And it worked. When you make a song that gets nine-year olds the shout out “saw me kissing on the sofa/I even had her in the shower” without anyone thinking “hey, maybe we shouldn’t let impressionable pre-adolescent children listen to this song” is a modern miracle. You’re a magician, Shag.

Worst Song: None.

Even the Creed song is good.

Defining Stretch:

10. “I Wish” – R. Kelly

11. “Shape of My Heart” – Backstreet Boys

12. “Crazy for This Girl” – Evan and Jaron

13. “Yellow” – Coldplay

14. “Again” – Lenny Kravitz

15. “Hemorrhage (In My Hands)” – Fuel

16. “With Arms Wide Open” – Creed

17. “Drive” – Incubus

18. “Beautiful Day” – U2

19. “AM Radio” – Everclear

Again, there’s not a single swing and miss on the whole album, but “Gotta Tell You” by Samantha Mumba is the closest thing to dead weight I could find. That means the back half of this CD gives it the nod over the first nine tracks. You have Coldplay’s top song ever, the last U2 song that was actually good, a top-3 Backstreet Boys ballad, and R. Kelly. THIS CD HAS EVERYTHING.

Verdict:

The best. Stop the fight. If I’m ever placed in solitary confinement for the rest of my life just give me this CD and I’ll be okay.

***

I’m a 7 at best: An open letter to Richard Deitsch

A funny thing happened last night when I least expected it.

I came across this picture of a Kentucky fan that bore a striking resemblance to “Poor Decision-Making Rob Lowe.”

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Pretty funny right? It quickly swept its way across the Internet, giving the guy his 15 minutes of fame. My timeline was full of friends and even colleagues having a laugh at one of the most outrageous pictures you’ll ever see. Pretty harmless right?

Apparently not.

A few minutes after I tweeted out the picture with the Rob Lowe caption, I see a reply enter my mentions column from someone I’ve followed and admired for years: Sports Illustrated Media Critic Richard Deitsch.

Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 9.27.03 AM

A quick backstory on Richard and I’s relationship. We’ve chatted a handful of times, over e-mail and Twitter, and I’ve even had work featured in his weekly Media Circus column over the years — something I considered a prestigious honor. Every now and then we’ll take part in some playful banter on Twitter about who-knows-what, but my fascination and passion for the world of sports and entertainment media makes his handle a must-follow. He’s lended me career advice and complimented my work enough times for me to think we’re on good terms.

So why was Richard making a thinly-veiled shot across the bow at me because of this picture? I have one (and that’s all this is) educated guess.

Richard and Clay Travis are mortal enemies, and have been for years. Last spring, I contributed to Clay’s website, Outkick the Coverage, for several months before leaving FOX Sports 1 for ESPNU. I won’t bore you with the details, but in short, Clay and Richard have their differences in how the landscape of sports media on the Internet (or any other platform, for that matter) should be used. Their Twitter Wars are memorable.

Richard made it no secret that my association with Clay was not a smart one in his eyes. From late December:

Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 9.35.02 AM

I didn’t feel the need to counter-punch. I took it in stride. Richard has told me in both private and public forum that he sees the potential in me, and to be honest I appreciate that he notices me at all. I’m 24 years old and very much still at the bottom of the mountain when it comes to achieving my career goals (more on that in a minute), so for Deitsch to take a seemingly invested (albeit smart-alecky) interest in me is nothing but reassuring.

The picture in question above is exactly the type of content Clay’s website thrives upon, so I can see where the connection between my tweet and my relationship with Clay could be drawn.

Let me make one thing clear now: I do not want to be Clay Travis. I could NEVER be Clay Travis. Clay has carved out a tremendous niche for himself based on a talent that is cleverly crafted and unique to him. He also has bigger balls than I could ever have. Is he a journalist? No, I wouldn’t say that. I don’t think he would either. He’s an entertainer, a satirist. He pokes the bear and crosses the line, and has become an extremely polarizing figure in my industry. Based on his current job, and income, I’d say he’s filling a void in the market pretty well. Even if I wanted to do what Clay does, I couldn’t.

Anyway, back to Thursday night’s Twitter kerfuffle.

Here are the next few tweets in our exchange:

Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 9.41.55 AM

(A quick clarification: the link Deitsch posted was of 50 Cent SMH’ing)

I tried to put out the fire quickly by explaining to Richard that I’m just having some fun on Twitter — which the last time I checked was perfectly OK — but RD wasn’t having it.

Richard and I have talked before about taping a podcast together. I’ve been wanting to start my own show for several years now and he is on the very short list of guests I would love to have on in the beginning.

Sadly, Richard made it clear I’ve fallen out of favor with him over my Twitter Joke. I’ve been reduced to another Hot Taker/Troll that no longer has any “promise.”

At this point in the exchange, I’m ready to move on. It is what is is. I’m not going to beg for Richard’s respect. That’s something I have to earn from anyone.

But then something happened that completely caught me by surprise — something I never thought I would read on this particular timeline.

Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 9.47.17 AM

Wow.

Maybe Richard was putting his tongue in his cheek. Maybe it was all in good fun. Maybe he has a crush on me. Who knows?

It was then that I decided to take his advice and start doing some reporting.

For as long as Deitsch has owned a Twitter account, he has been a champion for gender equality and the fight against sexism/stereotypes in sports media (if not the world). He’s incredibly vocal in his praise for female sports personalities and is quick to criticize both fans and journalists who show disrespect towards females based on their appearance. I applaud him for that. I am a firm believer that there are plenty of women trying to make it in this male-dominated industry who should never have to hear or read, let alone pay attention to, people publicly shaming them about their appearance instead of focusing on their work. The television industry in particular is a shallow one, sadly, but it’s a battle that is entirely worth fighting.

So why, then, would Richard make a comment to me that makes him sound exactly like the naive and despicable fans he so strongly excoriates all the time?

Going back as far as 2011, here are some examples of Richard’s well-intentioned fight against sexism, gender stereotypes, and more:

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Let’s start with the tweet in the upper left. Reducing someone’s work, self-worth and all-around humanity to an opinion based on looks is a horrible thing to do.

As you saw from last night, Richard tells me that eventually I’ll no longer be able to rely on my looks to do my job.

It’s funny though, because I didn’t start and run my own website covering ACC sports as a 19-year-old college sophomore because someone told me I was attractive. I didn’t break major news stories while on the Virginia Tech football beat, scooping seasoned professionals whose job it was to get those stories, because I have a crooked smile. ESPN didn’t hire me to intern as a researcher because of my blonde hair. They didn’t hire me back full-time in February of my senior year of college without even interviewing me again because they thought I was hot.

When I got to ESPN, I didn’t become (to my knowledge) the youngest person to ever sit in the producer’s chair during an ESPN studio broadcast because of my crooked nose. When my happily married, heterosexual boss left ESPN to join Fox Sports 1, he didn’t call me hours after leaving Bristol offering me a job to join him because I’m good-looking.

My Sports Emmy nomination at 23 years old was as a producer, not as a pretty face.

To be honest, if my career was determined by my physical appearance, I ought to be pretty ashamed right now. I’ve been in front of the camera for a grand total of maybe 30 minutes in my life. I’ve made a name for myself as a writer and a producer. If we’re being honest, looks are probably the last thing I have going for me right now. But hey, I was pretty tan (thanks LA) and actually smiled right for once in my Twitter avatar so Richard can judge away.

Anyone who truly knows me is well aware of what I hope to become one day. I am working towards becoming the best on-air sports personality I can be. I love sports (college sports mostly), I love talking about sports, and one day I hope to be paid enough to make a decent living doing just that. I love journalism and I think it is an extremely important enterprise in the world of sports today.

Here’s the thing, though: my job right now as a producer at ESPNU is to find the most entertaining content each day and put it on TV. Sometimes I’m assigned to cut montages for shows like the College Football Awards, National Signing Day, the Under Armour All-American Game, and more — assignments that require absolutely no journalistic practices whatsoever. To be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of it. But it’s my job and I do it to the best of my ability. Many other times, I’m charged with finding or creating viral stories across the web — which requires some basic journalistic skills — news judgement, timeliness, human interest — but no one is going to confuse me for Chief White House Correspondent any time soon. I do the job I’m paid to do. My bosses know where I hope to end up. If I do my job really well right now, it will hopefully open up those doors for me in the future.

In the cluster of tweets above, one of them includes Deitsch lamenting the fact that Cowherd did not back up an assertion made on his radio show with any factual evidence to support it. In my mind, that is exactly what Richard did at my expense Thursday night.

Am I mad? Not really.

Offended? Absolutely.

I would never reduce anyone’s accomplishments to physical appearance, male or female, and to have one of the foremost voices in my business make a comment — even it was in jest (and I’d be giving him the benefit of the doubt to say that) — that belittles my career up to this point because of how I look, is shocking and insulting.

In 2013, Deitsch welcomed a panel of well-known female voices in sports media for a roundtable discussion on the evolution of the business.

Some of the questions included:

  • How much sexism exists today in sports media?
  • You are all on Twitter. How often do you get tweets related to your appearance, gender or race (or all of the above) and what impact do they have?
  • What, if any, personal experiences do you have when it comes to sexism — either institutionalized or overt?

There was also a story he linked to back in December featuring a Q&A with Doris Burke:

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The interview included questions about Burke’s family background, her basketball career, her preparation tactics and even her advice for handling the daunting Gregg Popovich sideline interviews. Yet in his tweet linking the piece, Deitsch described it as an interview “on gender criticism and the role of physical appearance for women in television.”

He’s right, it was an important topic in the interview. There is nothing the least bit wrong with him using that angle to sell the story to his 100,000+ followers.

Based on the information I’ve presented above — both the tweets and articles he’s either penned or linked to — it’s not hard to see that Richard has an agenda to publicize and subsequently eradicate the use of physical appearance as a tool for judgment on media personalities in sports.

I think I’ve made my point by now. The irony in his comments directed at me last night should be apparent to everyone.

Richard is 1000 times the journalist I am. He’s enjoyed a distinguished career that has afforded him a tremendous amount of influence in a business where that’s hard to come by. I’m sure he’s made mistakes far greater than this one in his career. I’m just a blip on his radar. I’ve made too many mistakes to count already and I do my best to learn from each and every one. I’m certainly not going to hold this against him for a long time. Honestly, I’ll be over it tomorrow. I just can’t sit back and let a titan like him send lightning strikes down on me from above without at least showing a little pride.

I have a lot to learn as my career unfolds. No one understands that more than me. Richard, if you’re reading this I hope you realize how valuable your column, tweets, and links have been in helping me along the twisted path I call a career. I hope that you continue to be such a valuable resource for me.

I just hope you don’t make the same mistake you did with me when the stakes are any higher.

Four Really Dumb Ideas For Sports That Should All Totally Happen

Sports, collectively, might be the most popular source of entertainment in America.They’re basically saving the television industry as we know it. Very rich people open up their very large checkbooks to pay for everything from rights fees and team ownership,  to season tickets, League Pass and more.

It would seem like sports are, more or less, perfect.

Yet for some reason, it seems like we’re doing everything we can to change them.

Major League Baseball, which is desperately trying to attract viewers who can’t answer the question “Where were you when Kennedy was shot?”, has tested out a handful of rules to speed up the games this spring training. Not only is it apparently not working, umpires are more or less ignoring the changes. 

The National Football League’s owners are meeting this week in Arizona, and all of a sudden the hottest topic in the league is about changing extra points.

After the most unwatchable season in perhaps the history of college basketball, the NCAA is experimenting shortening the shot clock and widening the restricted-area arc to try and “open up the game.”

All of these possible changes have at least given us something to talk about…but why not think bigger? If you want to really enact change, you have to be BOLD!

Let’s really shake things up. You want more viewers? Make some real changes.

There have been plenty of failed attempts to create what I call “Spinoff Sports”.

The XFL started off hot, but cooled quickly and folded after a year.

And then there was SLAMBALL.

After watching that clip, all I can say is WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?

Instead of accepting the fact that Slamball is an idea as ludicrous as it is brilliant that can basically print its own money with TV deals, these jokers turned down the chance to become THE NEXT WWE because it would make them “lose credibility.” Then some other guy has the balls to actually mention the word “olympics.” Considering they don’t even have wrestling in the olympics anymore, I don’t think Slamball will make the cut anytime soon.

The only real spinoff sport that’s found sustained success is the Arena Football League. Even the AFL has had its ups and downs, but for more than 20 years it’s been able to stay afloat and whet the appetite of this football-crazed country during the NFL’s off-season.

What do Slamball and Arena Football have in common? They took two immensely popular sports and made just a few MAJOR changes to the rules/playing surface to create games that attract viewers. Attracting viewers means attracting money. We like money.

So here’s what I’m going to do: take a game we all love and change it in a completely irrational and utterly ridiculous way to make it even better. Here are a few really dumb, but kinda cool ideas for other sports spinoffs that need to happen soon:

DOUBLE-BASKETBALL

This is simple but probably my favorite. It’s like regular basketball, but instead of one hoop in the center of the lane, put two hoops on each end in the corners. Here’s the catch: it’s only on one end of the court, so each team gets one half to shoot on the double-basket end. The only other change to the floor you’d have to make is to the three-point line. Otherwise what used to be a corner three is suddenly a lay-up. Pretty awesome right?

Let’s talk strategy. On offense, how do you space the floor? Say goodbye to “rim protectors.” Teams could not afford to stick it’s biggest guy underneath the basket because, well, there are two baskets. To be honest, it might make centers obsolete. You need fast, athletic guys who are a threat to move across the court and score on either basket. Just when it looks like you’re heading to one hoop, BOOM — cross-court alley-oop time.

I would think the game would start with a coin toss like football so one team has the option to use the double-basket end during the first half or second half.

(I’m more than willing to take suggestions for a better name. Basketballs doesn’t make much sense, or BasketBasketBall, Basketball Basketball…they all suck.)

ONE STRIKE BASEBALL

This is a change that MLB should make today. You want to speed up the game? No more four-balls three-strikes nonsense. You get one ball and one strike. Start swinging the bats boys. Pitchers, you better put the ball over the plate, lest you load the bases on three straight pitches off the black.

Oh, and also, steroids are 200% legal here.

You think watching pitchers throw meat to batters who are juiced out of their mind wouldn’t instantly make baseball 100 times more watchable?

Get Rob Manfred on the phone.

PEE-WEE SLAMBALL

I’m stealing this from the clip above. Let’s start the movement.

One of my favorite halftime “acts” I’ve ever seen was at an NHL game. As soon as the period ended, out poured literally 75 elementary school children in full uniform and they dropped a puck. It was pure and wonderful chaos. Ten minutes of 60-pound munchkins on skates with giant wooden sticks and a single slab of concrete sliding across the ice.

You can literally take anything in the world and it’s 100 times funnier when children are doing it. Talking, running, eating, everything. Why not take the most ridiculous sport ever invented and do it with children?

If you asked me to choose between a $20 ticket to watch the Hornets play the Nets tomorrow night or watch a hoard of pre-adolescents just straight posterizing kids left and right, I’m choosing the little guys every time.

TUG OF OAR

This one actually exists already, but I have to bring it up because I just saw it today and it’s the greatest thing I’ve ever seen*.

If ESPN will televise the freaking spelling bee, there’s got to be room for this.

I love this game if for nothing else but the name. Tug of Oar is pure genius.

* I don’t actually think it’s the greatest thing I’ve ever seen.

Distractions

Man, it is easy to be distracted these days.

I’m happy with where I am in life. I’m productive. My rap sheet:

  • 24 years old
  • College degree
  • Great job.
  • Four home addresses in less than three years.

After spending the first 22 years of my life in essentially one place, all I wanted was to see a little more of the world. So far, so good.

There’s only one problem. I want to do everything. I want to see everything, read everything, be everything. And that’s impossible.

This may surprise a lot of people, but I actually don’t know exactly what I want to do, and I sure as hell don’t know who I want to be. For the first time in my life, I’m starting to realize that’s okay.

Here’s the problem with trying to do everything. It makes your life harder. So unnecessarily harder.

I can’t go five minutes without checking Twitter if I tried.  I’m constantly checking e-mails on my iPhone, even though nine times out of ten I just find more spam to delete. Sometimes I’ll swipe through Instagram, tap a couple pictures twice somewhat arbitrarily, then I’ll see what my friends have sent me on Snapchat. Just when I think I’m about to power down and do something you, know, productive, there’s another link that catches my eye.

One more click…one more click…one more click.

Have you ever closed out of Facebook on your laptop and immediately opened it up on your iPhone? Because I have — all the time.

I DON’T WANNA MISS A THINGGGGGGGGGGGGG

Let me quickly explain how I got here: I spent four years in college writing about my passion — sports. I was a creator of content. Looking back on it four years later, it wasn’t always the best content — but it was good enough to launch the career I’d always wanted for myself.

Then somewhere along the way, I stopped being a creator and became a consumer.

Here’s the thing about working in TV. A lot of people work on a show — executive producers, producers, segment producers, associate producers, production assistants, directors — and oh yeah…on-air talent. That’s a lot of people with a lot of ideas, and when you’re trying to fill a half-hour/hour-long show, you’re lucky if you bat .200 on any given day.

I’d probably say 90 percent of the information I consume every day is never put to use. I didn’t have the outlet for it. So it finally hit me — what if I cut back even a fraction of the time I spend looking for something interesting and try and make something myself?

I’ve tried to find ways to let my voice out again. It’s never really worked out the way I’d like. I ignored the single most common piece of advice any professional blogger has for wannabes: don’t worry about making money.

See, I wanted to make a business out of this writing thing. So I tried to find a niche — if anyone knows anything about me, they know it’s college football. There was only one problem — I’m pretty much paid full-time to produce creative and original content for college football. If I wasn’t dedicating 100 percent of the area of my brain marked “college football,” I was not doing my job.

Every time I’ve tried to start writing again, I’ve worried about everything but writing. What should I call the site? Do I need a logo? What should I write about? How many columns should my layout have? Way too much time spent worrying about things that just don’t matter.

I’ve finally decided to take the lid off. My newest project is called A Distraction a Day, and I have to credit Rembert Browne‘s former blog, 500 Days Asunder, for my inspiration. There came  a day where Rembert said he’d had enough and dedicated himself to writing a single blog post — no more, no less — for 500 days straight until he finished grad school. I’m no Rembert Browne, but when I read his description for the blog, it motivated me to at least emulate the idea on my own terms.

I have no idea which direction the site will go from here, I just know that I’m not trapping myself any longer. There will be plenty of sports, maybe some music (I have to put those 56,000 minutes I spent on Spotify last year to good use somehow), maybe some TV, maybe even politics. I’ll probably do some videos, hopefully start the podcast I’ve wanted to for years. The only thing stopping me is myself.

So…every day, a new distraction. All I really want is to keep myself from every other distraction. If I can distract you for a few minutes too, great. I’ll try to make it worth your time in the process. I know it will be worth mine.