How can you miss what’s impossible to ignore?
In my case, old family photos, several generations deep, often produce grammar school class photos that inspire unrequited wonder about what’s hard to not to see.
Who are/were those two or three black kids in the black and white shots of otherwise all-white ranks in 1940 and even the 1950s? Where did they come from? How were they treated by teachers and classmates? Were they happy to be there? Did they feel strange?
Given that the answers don’t appear on the back — they’re not baseball cards — the wonder eventually passes.
Saturday, while watching the Celebration Bowl from Atlanta on ABC/ESPN, similar wonder surfaced.
The game, between historically black colleges Howard and Florida A&M, included one or two white players on each team. Seems most football games between mostly black colleges feature a few white players. As in those old family photos, you can’t miss them.
But who are they? How did they get there? How are they treated? Do they feel strange to be enrolled in a black school?
All, I surmise, are good questions that would carry interesting answers, the kinds that would enhance telecasts — unless I’m the only one in the audience smitten with such wonder.
4 While watching the Celebration Bowl on Saturday, The Post’s Phil Mushnick wondered how white players such as Florida A&M’s TJ Demas (right) found his way to a HBCU. AP
Same goes for white members — again, tough not to notice — of the black schools’ marching bands.
But these are racially ridiculous days in the nervous hands of uptight media. They’re the kinds of days that can cost longtime ESPN tennis analyst Doug Adler his career and reputation for praising Venus Williams’ “guerilla” net-rushing tactics because some unstrung New York Times stringer claimed that Adler, for no known reason or context, called her “a gorilla.”
The illogical fear of addressing even benign and conspicuous racial realities — the fear of being condemned and ruined by TV execs who’d serve the screwball claims of fringe lunatics before standing up for their employees — is so embedded in the front of producers’ and broadcasters’ insecure minds that matters of audience wonder are left unexamined and unspoken.
But tuning to a ballgame — any ballgame — is to fully anticipate the ridiculous and a silence based on self-inflicted irrational fear.
Let’s sink the showboats
As TV continues to defund class and substance in favor of shallow, worthless style, this past weekend was a biggie for excessive showboating under the tutelage of adult coaches.
So what if Indiana blew a 13-point lead to lose to Kansas on CBS, IU had its elaborate and flamboyant pregame introduction handshakes rehearsed and performed to perfection.
Against the Jets on CBS, Sunday, Dolphins’ DT Christian Wilkins co-sacked Zach Wilson, causing him to fumble near the Jets’ goal line. Wilkins might’ve recovered the ball then scored from 3 yards out, but he no longer was paying attention. He was busy performing a silly but expected all-about-me dance.
4 Christian Wilkins showboats after sacking Zach Wilson, a practice Phil Mushnick says sports can do without. Getty Images
Naturally, Jim Nantz and Tony Romo said nothing. Just throw it on the pile of players me-dancing away from free balls.
Florida A&M’s defense, following an interception, gathered on the field to do a mimed group machine-gunning of the crowd, which included vice president Kamala Harris. This charming scene apparently was enacted with the approval of the head coach.
Chargers RB Austin Ekeler, after running for a first down, gave that obligatorily foolish look-what-I-did first-down gesture. At the time, his club was losing to the Raiders, 63-7.
Of course the uncouth, just-got-off-the-boat Italian stereotype attached to Tommy DeVito & Associates was reliant on the absence of class, thus why wouldn’t Saints DE Tanoh Kpassagnon follow a sack of DeVito with a paisan fingers gesture?
But such is now rationalized as a case of “no worse than fill-in-the-blank,” as opposed to what it’s better than.
Best graphic of the week (seriously) came from Fox during Sunday’s Chiefs-Pats. It showed the QBs KC presumably will face in their remaining games: Bailey Zappe (Pats), Aidan O’Connell (Raiders), Jake Browning (Bengals), Easton Stick (Chargers), since replaced by new signee Will Grier.
Were any known as even third-stringers at the start of the season?
But injuries have again badly depleted the ranks, but not enough to prevent Roger Goodell and bottom-line team owners from this season adding a 17th game while continuing to express deep concern for disabled players.
Reader Gary Lustig has a good one for TV-money slobberer Goodell and his buddies at CBS and Fox:
Now that the Giants and Jets, when both are on the TV Diminished Value list, play 1 p.m. games head-to-head to make room for more TV-valued 4:25 games, such planning badly undercuts the buy-in value of advertisers into the NY market.
Lusting wonders how many New York-region viewers do as he does: Use commercials as prompts to switch back and forth from Jets and Giants, never to watch a single commercial.
Tigers’ Mulkey can’t change stripes
Shocked? Why? I’ve tried to tell ya’ll for several years that Kim Mulkey, LSU women’s coach who was tossed last week for violently court-storming to object to a close call — LSU at the time led by 39, late against a scheduled patsy — has been a bad act since she eagerly stomped opponents as Baylor’s coach.
4 Kim Mulkey was ejected after arguing with an official during LSU’s blowout win over Northwestern State. AP
But clearly such role-model behavior as the adult leader of student-athletes is why state-funded LSU pursued Mulkey, signing her to a women’s record $3.5 million per.
Elsewhere in college basketball this week:
Men: Wofford 105, Kentucky Christian 54. Georgia St. 122, Toccoa Falls 45. Drexel 117, Penn State-Allegheny 49. Texas A&M–Commerce 130, Arlington Baptist 53.
Women: Hofstra 113, Farmingdale St. 24. Morehead St. 83, Davis & Elkins 28. Kent St. 84, Lake Erie 24. UConn 111, Toronto Metro Univ. 34, Penn St. 119, St,. Francis (Pa,) 43. Navy 105, Goucher 50.
All this airtime now extended to former NFL refs as rules interpreters, yet one question, to my knowledge, has yet to be asked of any of them:
If side judges have only one set of eyes, how can they simultaneously determine if a receiver has both feet in bounds while having undisputed possession of the ball?
I’ll hang up and listen to your response.
If one had the stomach to isolate on Jets’ 2020 first-round pick, OLT Mekhi Becton, vs. Miami, Sunday, one would wonder if the guy isn’t better suited for playing defense in dodgeball.
With his broadcasting career apparently nearing its end, Al Michaels didn’t stay current. He chose not to scream and holler over everything and anything. He saved it for appropriate moments. Again, today Vin Scully wouldn’t be asked back for a second audition.
4 Al Michaels calls Thursday games for Prime Video. AP
Graphic of the Week is submitted by reader Pat Eposito, who is able to distinguish the historical from the hysterical. The NFL’s Red Zone scrolled that Eagles’ QB Jalen Hurts is just one rushing TD from tying three others for third place on Philly’s all-time single-season rushing TD record.
Again, not enough games assigned to CBS college basketball analyst Steve Lappas. Not that his bosses would know, but he leaves audiences with applicable wisdom.
Remember what the man on CBS says: “The Verizon Halftime show is brought to you by Verizon.”
Why is sports media scared to mention racially obvious?
How can you miss what’s impossible to ignore?