Sports

A Regular Roundball Roget

Believe it or not, some college students have actually based a drinking game on Walt Frazier's analysis during Knicks telecasts. Every time the poet laureate of the MSG Network starts rhyming or dropping 10-cent words, everybody chugs. Geez, by halftime on most nights, entire fraternities must crash to the floor as though they were flagrantly fouled by Karl Malone.

Frazier cuts loose with fancy words like they're bounce passes and every telecast is his seventh game against the Lakers in 1970. Take Friday night's Knicks-Suns broadcast. When he wasn't busy rhyming ("doom and gloom," "dishin' and swishin'," "hackin' and whackin',") Clyde found a way to work in bona fide, obliterated, prolific, scenario, continuity, indicative, meandering, lethargic, echelon, resounding, exploitation, and forte. And that was before the end of the first quarter! By the final buzzer, he'd also made room for omnipresent, perennial, percolating, calamity, dubious, conversely, quintessential, bedeviled, invigorating, indomitable, epitome, savvy, catapulting, tumultuous, amplified, and cantankerous. Funkand Wagnallwould be proud.

It's an impressive vocabulary. That is, when it's used correctly. (At one point on Friday, Frazier told us, "The Suns have an uncanny blend of offense and defense." Uh, what's uncannyabout a balanced team?) Do us a favor, Clyde. Sit down with Alanis Morissetteone day so somebody can explain to both of you the meaning of the word ironic.

Why does Frazier's verbal self-indulgence play so well with the MSG brass? (The Knicks media guide describes him as a "unique phrasemaster.") Because Clyde is Clyde, that's why. So you're left with two choices: Turn down the sound on the TV or have a dictionary alongside you on the couch. If you choose the latter, keep the pages flipping while the sage is quipping. Define as you recline.


SportsCenter and the Second Sex

A national survey released last week revealed the top 10 greatest moments in women's sports history. Conducted by ESPN, the poll put the passage of Title IX at number one and Billie Jean King's "Battle of the Sexes" win over Bobby Riggsat number 10. Though such lists are designed to start arguments, we do not have a quarrel with the events picked or their particular placement. Instead, we here at Jockbeat are sitting around scratching our heads over how—or, perhaps, whether—the venerable sports network that conducted the poll would cover these sporting milestones.

If it were to follow recent form, ESPN would give hardly any airtime at all to these important sports happenings; after all, they were accomplished by women. Broadcast time for women (and we're not just talking about Linda Cohn) is a rare thing on the Worldwide Leader in Sports. We know this because SportsCenter will give us 20 solid minutes of NFL preseason highlights before even mentioning the results of the WNBA playoffs. But now we're sure of it after the release of a new study by the Amateur Athletic Foundation, Gender in Televised Sports: 1989, 1993, 1999. According to the AAF, a mere 2.2 percent of SportsCenter is devoted to women's sports. This in the age of professional leagues for women's basketball, soccer, softball, volleyball, and even football. Oh, there's also that women's tennis thing and the LPGA and all the college sports that the fairer sex takes part in. But if Duke's men's team is playing Marathon Oil in a basketball exhibition, you'll be sure to know about it (and see hightlights of it) long before the score of a WTA final is flashed (briefly) upon the SportsCenter screen.

ESPN isn't the lone culprit in the underreporting of women's sports, of course; it's just the worst. The sports report on local TV news shows devotes only 8.7 percent of its airtime to women according to the AAF, for a men's-to-women's-sports-story ratio of 6:1 (SportsCenter's ratio is a whopping 15:1). And you have to wait a while to get to those few-and-far-between women's sports reports: Only 3 percent of local news programs featured a lead story about women's athletics, while not a single SportsCenterprogram looked at during the course of the study lead with a piece about women.

But now that we have Miaand Venusand Sherylon the scene, things are surely better than yesteryear, right? Not according to the AAF: "The percentage of stories and airtime devoted to women's sports on local news programs remains almost as low as it was a decade ago." So much for progress.

And so much for the revolution in women's athletics if SportsCenterdoesn't catch en fuego for the ladies sometime soon. In these situations, the no-one-cares excuse is usually trotted out by producer types. But it's all so much hooey when the WNBA averages 10,000 fans per game in only its third year; it took the NBA nearly three decades to hit that figure. Is it really asking too much for a regular "boo-yah!" from Stuart Scottand company when women do their thing on the various fields of play? As they say, stay tuned.


Field of Schemes (Cont'd)

If you want a glimpse of what Mayor Giuliani's long-threatened stadium-financing plan might look like when and if it's ever formally proposed, just look at what Rudy's Pennsylvania alter ego—with the emphasis on egoPhiladelphia mayor John Street, has been up to in his town.

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