Thursday, March 15, 2007

Half A Notch More Intelligent Than Your Average Barroom Conversation

Bag News Notes does its usual interesting job of analyzing an image from the current media--in this case, the Photoshopped cover of Sports Illustrated that depicts a half-submerged baseball stadium as a way of promoting their cover story on the potential effects of global warming on sports.

Which reminds me that I've been meaning for the longest time to write an article about the politics of Mike & the Mad Dog, the popular sports radio talk-show duo on New York's WFAN. They talk about social, economic, and racial topics surprisingly often, and usually, infuriatingly, from an ostensibly "non-political" but right-wing position heavily tinged with Know-Nothingism.

Case in point: When Sports Illustrated ran the cover on global warming, host Mike Francesa didn't even bother to read the articles inside but simply denounced the magazine on his show as follows (I am paraphrasing, but not by much):
Hey, I'm no scientist, I don't know anything about climate or global warming. But can we get real about this cover story? I mean, the effects of global warming are incredibly subtle. No way it will have any impact on sports in our lifetime. In a hundred or two hundred years, maybe. I mean, what are we talking about, half a degree here or there? This story is an unbelievable stretch. The guys at Sports Illustrated are so desperate for something to write about that they're obviously jumping on this Al Gore/Oscar bandwagon. I mean, talk about pathetic [etc. etc.].
Maybe the most noteworthy thing about this absurd rant is Francesa's assumption that, for a sports talk show host, it's entirely appropriate and maybe even praiseworthy to announce that he knows nothing about a topic before spending several minutes delivering opinions about it with the utmost sense of conviction.

Such are the standards of evidence and logic that are taken for granted in the world of sports talk. Which doesn't matter, if the topic is Mariano Rivera's contract extension or the power-hitting potential of Lastings Milledge. But you might think global warming is important enough to actually devote five minutes to learning about before shooting off at the mouth, no?

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