Wednesday, August 30, 2006

A Tale of Two Newspapers

Someone must've put Tabasco Sauce in Michael O'Brien's Cheerios.

O'Brien works for the Chicago Sun-Times and this story appears with his byline today (I really hope this is a column because it already contains enough opinion and factual inaccuracies to qualify for the William Randolph Heart Excellence in Yellow Journalism Award.)

I could shoot holes in this thing all day long but here are the two key parts:

This might come as a surprise to Illini fans, but shoe companies don't mean anything. It's much more significant that all five coaches -- Jerry Wainwright, Kelvin Sampson, Bill Self, John Calipari and Ben Howland -- have close relationships with Reebok's Sonny Vaccaro.

The key to this paragraph is: Who is Sonny Vaccaro? Well by golly, he works for Reebok, which is owned by Adidas, which is going to have a shoe contract with Mean Streets Express, which is the AAU team for which Derrick Rose plays, which is coached by his brother Reggie.

O'Brien says shoe companies don't mean anything but then says it's "significan" that the coaches have a good relationship with...a guy who works for a shoe company. Yeah. That makes sense.

Just remember all that as you read the following paragraph:

Rose has been startlingly independent when it comes to shoe companies. Simeon, his high school team, is sponsored by Nike. Meanstreets Express, his club team, is sponsored by Nike. The majority of club tournaments the team played in were Nike-sponsored. Rose attended the Reebok shoe camp and the Reebok Big Time Tournament in Las Vegas. All five of his final schools are Adidas schools. Adidas owns Reebok.

O'Brien leaves out the Adidas tie to Meanstreets as well as the other ties in the rest of his column to make his pathetic point that this has nothing to do with shoes.

He's probably actually right. It really has to do with money.

Contrast all this with the Tribune's Rick Morrissey and this column.

Simeon's Derrick Rose is considered one of the best high school basketball players in the country, and his recruitment has been covered as if it were the City Hall beat. The latest story line has to do with the allegation that an outside force is shaping his decisions.

The outside force would be a shoe company.


Everybody involved denies the charges, and you would, too, it's so embarrassing. A 17-year-old kid being manipulated by money-hungry adults would not be one of your more heartwarming stories.

Then again, the entire job description of the sewer rats who work for the shoe companies is to influence young players. They're the men looking to tie up players in the hope they'll turn into superstars some day. And then those superstars will be able to sell another generation of impressionable youth on the importance of $200 shoes.

Understand that, at heart, this isn't about Rose. There may be no basis for the Rose-Adidas shenanigans story, but it really doesn't matter. What matters is that we've been around long enough to not even blink at the possibility it's true. A star high school player the object of affection of the $2.5 billion-a-year basketball shoe industry? Sounds about right.


At some point, there is going to be a reckoning. Whether that reckoning will be selfish, unwatchable sports or an increased suicide rate among young athletes, who can say? But with all that pressure, something has to give. The market has to correct itself.

When it becomes very important what basketball shoe a high school player wears, we're all in trouble. I wonder if we even know it.

Well said Rick.

<< Home |

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?