Urban: Staying Classy in San Diego


Urban: Staying Classy in San Diego

Sept. 9, 2010

SAN DIEGO -- The early morning traffic was light, nobody was in line at curbside check-in at the Oakland airport, it took all of two minutes to get through security, and I scored a front-row aisle seat with nobody in the middle seat for the flight.And guess whose bags came off the luggage carousel first?All of a sudden I heard Sean Connerys character from Finding Forrester in my head.Youre the man now, dog!This is gonna be a cakewalk, I thought to myself, strolling confidently through the San Diego airport, bubbling in anticipation of the sunshine sure to blind me the moment I stepped outside. Ah, but the best laid plans of mice, men and overly optimistic journalists often go awry. That point gently peppered my melon shortly after I burst through the sliding glass doors that take travelers to the line of taxis.Sunny San Diego? Try soaked San Diego. Rain? Now it was the voice of John McEnroe, circa Wimbledon vs. Bjorn Borg, in my head.You can NOT be serious!!And then William Forrester returned, only with less of a regal Scottish lilt. Youre the wet dog now, man!Yet things picked up a bit from there. The cabbie actually knew where the Giants team hotel is; to my eternal fascination, thats never a lock in any big-league city, despite the high quality and downtown location of most such properties.Nobody in line at the front desk. I got to check in right away even though it wasnt quite 10 a.m.. And my room? Peep it in on my flip-vid page for this trip. Its gorgeous, big enough to host a small wedding reception, one block from Petco Park, and features a balcony that offers views of the back of the ballpark on one side and a waterway on the other.The sun even broke through by noon, so I went for a walk. Ran into Brian Wilson, who was strolling the streets solo and entertained me for a few minutes as only he can. Ran into Amy G, who walked a few blocks with me back to the hotel. There we ran into Barry Zito, headed out for breakfast.Now it was Ice Cube in my head.Today was a good day.Ah, but its not even close to over, now, is it? It still can, and probably will, get ugly at some point.Actually, it already had. As I walked out of the hotels front door, two teenage boys bum-rushed me, baseballs in hand. At 6-foot-6 and about 235 pounds, and with a job that often put me in places where professional athletes can be found, Im often mistaken for an athlete and asked for an autograph.Never mind that these people obviously have no clue that my signature would de-value their baseballs instead of the intended opposite. Its flattering in an odd way.Until, that is, I tell them Im a nobody.The mistake I make is in accepting the ball before I tell them. Youre not on the Giants? one of the boys repeated.No, I said with a laugh. But Im taller than all of them.To which the other boy snatched the ball out of my hand like Steph Curry stripping an Angolan point guard.As they stalked off, I heard one of them refer to me as a jackass.Thats when Ron Burgundy made his inevitable appearance in my head.Stay classy, San Diego!
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76ers anthem singer says 'We Matter' shirt got her the boot


76ers anthem singer says 'We Matter' shirt got her the boot

PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia 76ers national anthem singer Sevyn Streeter says she was told by the team she could not perform because of her "We Matter" jersey.

She was scheduled to sing before the Sixers' season opener Wednesday against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Streeter wrote on Twitter, "Was suppose to sing the anthem at @sixers & @okcthunder game but mins b4 @sixers said I couldn't because I was wearing a "We Matter" jersey.

The Sixers declined to say why Streeter's performance was canceled.

"The Philadelphia 76ers organization encourages meaningful actions to drive social change. We use our games to bring people together, to build trust and to strengthen our communities. As we move from symbolic gestures to action, we will continue to leverage our platform to positively impact our community," the Sixers said in a statement.

The Sixers had a member of their dance team sing the anthem.

This isn't the first time the Sixers were dragged into a national anthem controversy.

A woman performing the national anthem before an NBA preseason game in Miami did so while kneeling at midcourt.

Denasia Lawrence opened her jacket just before she started to sing, revealing a "Black Lives Matter" shirt, then dropped to her left knee and performed the song. She said it was her way of protesting racial oppression.

The anthem issue has been a major topic in the sports world in recent months, starting with the decision by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to not stand while it is played. Kaepernick cited racial injustice and police brutality among the reasons for his protest, and athletes from many sports - and many levels, from youth all the way to professional - have followed his lead in various ways.

The neck-breaking rise and fall of daily fantasy sports


The neck-breaking rise and fall of daily fantasy sports

The apparent cratering of the Draft Kings/Fan Duel phenomenon is largely a tale of greed gone wild, with coatings of arrogance and bullying through advertising, not to mention naked avarice, raw cupidity and what the Greeks used to call “pleonexia,” which is Greek for greed, avarice and cupidity.

It is a tale of what happens when you try to game a system that’s bigger than your own without cutting the people who run the bigger system in on the goods. It’s alleged wise guys finding out that it’s easier to skirt the law when you make the law. And it’s very definitely guys who got out over their skis trying to dominate a market that was doing fine on its own.

And hey, what’s better than smart guys getting theirs?

But there is actually a greater lesson in this for all of us, and it is this: Fantasy sports leagues are best left as small, interactive tribes whose competitors see each other, talk with each other, exchange money with each other and socialize (re: drink beer) with each other. The phenomenon began as an entirely holistic and communal idea in the 1960s in Oakland surrounding the still-larval American Football League, and grew on the ground level in other sports, in bars, rec rooms, bars, office break rooms, bars, vacations, bars, taverns, and ultimately, bars.

It was a way for friends to gather and ignore the bigger issues of living (like, say, families, which are far too time consuming, expensive and always end up with the parents battling desperately for a tie in a game once it becomes clear that they cannot win).

It was not meant to be mass-produced, let alone dominated by the guy with the best algorithms. That’s not sports, that’s math, and when was the last time you said, “Honey, I’m going out. Some math teachers are getting together to raise a little hell, and I don’t want to miss it”?

So never mind the “The DraftDuelers and FanKings tried to pull a fast one” angle, even though they did. Ignore the “They got too big and too grabby too fast” narrative, even though they did that, too.

What happened here was a perverse monetization of something that didn’t actually need improving or enlarging, because it was perfectly good the way it was. And perverse monetization is the path to perdition, I think we can all agree.

The fantasy industry also made a fatal error by trying to say for legal reasons that it wasn’t gambling, which it clearly was – except in one very granular way that nobody ever addresses.

Gambling, as in finding a bookie who will let you bet on games in any manner of exotic fashions, is meant to be a solitary pursuit left best for quiet brooders. If you have Seattle plus the 1½ when everyone else is bitching about the evils of a 6-6 overtime tie, you quietly accept your incredible good fortune and start to handicap Broncos-Texans, which you probably lost.

Fantasy sports, on the other hand, are meant to be shared, but only with those in your particular fantasy league as opposed to all other people, who do not give a steaming chalky damn about your made-up aggregation of athletes and actively hate you for breaching their worlds with your relentless yammering about your alternate-universe imaginings.

Put another way, people who tell you about their fantasy teams are people who need to be taken into the desert and abandoned. And people who commit these crimes should be allowed to avoid hypothermia, dehydration and coyote dinner only by making regular offerings of alcohol and foodstuffs to those whose peace and quiet they have thoughtlessly breached.

And the industrialization of fantasy sports was the last frontier of that obnoxio-hateful social development. It used commercial television to beat us all to death with something only a few of us cared about, and it reminded us that our culture loathes two things above all others – people trying to pull a fast one, and people telling us repeatedly about things we’re not remotely interested in hearing.

In other words, even if you were planning to be saddened by the collapse of the first wave of industrialized fantasy sports, don’t. They were people trying to cut themselves in on action that wasn’t theirs, and make a national phenomenon out of a social development best confined to a single room with six-to-20 people, all of whom had the good sense to bring wine and snacks.

I mean, seriously. Why would you want to screw with that setup?