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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

No Television Contract

As I type this, I'm over three weeks removed from having cable. After much hemming and hawing, most admittedly on my part, my wife and I made the decision to get rid of cable. It's functionality has largely been replaced by AppleTV and over-the-air TV via an antenna. I'm loving it - in fact, the HD actually looks better on AppleTV and via antenna - but the biggest void is sports.

Ever wonder why sports contracts are so lucrative? For one, they've got the power to keep schmucks like me shackled to the cable company for longer than need be. While there have never been more methods to watch sports on devices other than your TV, most of them are still predicated upon subscribing to cable, like WatchESPN's offerings. Others, like the MLB and NBA apps for AppleTV and other devices, in addition to requiring a pricey subscription, also follow local blackout rules, meaning that you still won't see your local team (and don't forget MLB has a rather liberal definition of "local team"). The message is clear: In the eyes of the providers, other avenues are there to enhance, not replace, and the leagues and cable companies are still intimate.

Losing cable won't keep me from watching, but it will certainly change the way I watch. The most salient effect is the loss of everything on the ESPN family of networks. I thought I could stave off that hunger until college football rolled around, until I realized that once March Madness is over, emphasis on ESPNU is shifted to college lacrosse, which I can no longer watch. Barring that, however, my next biggest hurdle comes when college football season rolls around.

Given that The American Athletic Conference (née Big East) no longer enjoys major conference status, televised games of my dear alma mater will be harder to come by anyway, so perhaps this was the best time to make the move. My Saturdays will change, but not too drastically. As long as it doesn't move to the new Fox Sports 1, I'll be one of the relatively few folks starting my day with Fox's college sports pregame show instead of College Gameday. I'll stick to major network programming, which for me will mean SEC on CBS, Notre Dame on NBC (and ND's halftime on, the big game each week on ABC, and ACC coverage available on local TV. Fox will also be the source of my late day fix with their 7pm-ish studio show.

As for the pros, I'm used to missing the Eagles, living in NC. Barring that restriction, it looks like there are only two Eagles games I'll miss due to not having cable, one Monday night game on ESPN and one Thursday night game on NFL Network, so the landscape there doesn't change for me too much.

So here we are. I've gotten the Time Warner Cable monkey off my back (mostly; they still provide my internet) and I've still got plenty to choose from. And when the time comes that I need to catch something, I'm sure the local sports bar will be glad to have me.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Staccato Notes

There's a longer post coming soon, but with a few pieces of interesting news, I figured I'd give you a few short notes.

-The ACC presidents have signed a grant of rights that will keep the conference together and in the belief of many stop realignment for the time being, or at least until someone decides they want to snag a school from the American.
-I think rumors of halted realignment are greatly exaggerated. We're still not too far removed from  Appalachian State and Georgia Southern joining the Sun Belt, or rumors of Davidson to the A-10, which would further rock the Southern Conference, perhaps the only conference that's historically been more gutted than the Big East.
-The College Football Playoff has a name! It's... the College Football Playoff. In addition to its eponymity, it's actually a bit insulting to the two other divisions and one other Division I subdivision, which, you know, have had a college football playoff for some time now.
-Speaking of the playoff, Brett "Sources" McMurphy has stated that Cowboys Stadium as the site of the first championship game is official and will be announced tomorrow.
-The ACC has released its 2013-14 basketball schedule. As some had postulated, College Park won't host Duke or UNC in its final year in the ACC as punishment for bailing. This means that Duke's last trip to College Park ended in a victory for the good guys.
-Speaking of the Rough Draft, their game vs. UMBC got postponed earlier this year due to weather. There are no signs it's being rescheduled.
-Major League Lacrosse will be airing 15 games live via their YouTube channel this season. Further detail on its significance in a later post.
-WGI has ended its season, crowning both its guard and percussion champions.
-And finally: Who knew I hailed from a pair of cricket powerhouses? UMBC bested USF in the college cricket national championship.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

For Boston

In times of tragedy, we sometimes look for ways to shorthand our support; a quick, easily identifiable symbol to let those affected know that we stand with you. Often, this comes in the form of sports logos. After all, in many cases, this is the primary point of connection with a city with which one may not otherwise identify. Further, because sports tend to be something about which many are passionate, it can be particularly poignant when fans can lay aside a rivalry in support of a greater cause, as the Yankees have done tonight.

While baseball's continued status as our national pastime can be questioned, its logos are undoubtedly still the go-to for such displays. After all, more than any other league, most of MLB's logos incorporate the location's primary letter, meaning they often transcend just the team and become a symbol of the city. In the time following 9/11, the Yankees' interlocking NY became synonymous with support for New York, and in the aftermath of yesterday's bombing, the Red Sox' iconic B has taken on that role. Indeed, it was second nature to reach for my Red Sox cap when leaving my house this morning.

Still, in the face of the recent tragedy, I'd submit the logo of the Boston Crusaders Drum and Bugle Corps. The Crusaders incorporate a rampant lion, a heraldic symbol signifying strength, valor, and bravery. In these tough times, it is precisely what the people of Boston, and indeed, all of us, are displaying.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The American Way

Sam Eagle, our conference mascot.
The remaining football faction of the splintered Big East announced today that it will rebrand itself as the American Athletic Conference.

Make no mistake, no matter what name had come forth, the Twitterverse would've been prepared to clown it. I can't pretend I didn't get my shots in. But in all honesty, it's a solid choice. It's safe, simple, and self-evident. It doesn't write any checks the future can't cash; there's no geography (save for simply America, and I'm reasonably certain the conference can keep its membership in the confines of two continents), no numbers, and it doesn't even get into self-aggrandizement with "big". It might as well be called the Conference Conference. The conference has already stated that their preferred branding will be The American, not the AAC (despite the pleas for #AACtion), meaning that All-Conference players will automatically become All-Americans.

The comparisons will - and have - come to Conference USA. It's actually fitting; most of the conference membership spent time there. As the new conference rises from the ashes, it's not quite  as big, it's not quite east, but it's All American.
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