Chinese Lunar New Year: Food, Family… and Basketball!

Monday February 8, marked the Chinese lunar new year, an event celebrated by Chinese all over the world. Hundreds of millions of Chinese travel across the globe to reunite with families (In China, there is even a specific name for this travel season, Chunyun, which describes the extremely high traffic load around this time of year), to participate in what has been called the largest annual human migration in the world. And while there are slight differences in the zodiac, this same lunar calendar cycle is also shared by Vietnamese, Tibetans, Koreans, and Mongolian peoples.

[You can read more about the Chinese zodiac here]

Lunar calendars — that is, any calendar based on the cycles of the moon — trace back millennia to the Ancient Chinese, Greeks, Babylonians, and Jews. In fact, there are many cultures around the world today, such as the Islamic Hijri Qamari Calendar, Chinese Calendar, Hebrew Calendar, and Hindu Calendar, that still mark their calendars by the moon, and each follows a different lunar phase for determining the start of their annual cycle. There are also many who use the Gregorian calendar for everyday use but use the lunar calendar to determine holidays and festive occasions. (more…)

Why #NoJusticeNoLeBron makes #NoSense

In response to a Cleveland grand jury decision to not indict two white police officers in the murder of 12 year old Tamir Rice, some on social media have adopted the hashtag #NoJusticeNoLeBron. The hashtag represents a twitter campaign designed to encourage Cleveland Cavalier’s basketball megastar LeBron James to boycott NBA games in an attempt to pressure the Department of Justice “imprison the murderers of Tamir Rice”


Many see this as an action similar to the remarkably successful boycott undertaken by the University of Missouri football team — which resulted in the resignation of the university system President. In reality, the circumstances are vastly different — a boycott runs the risk of doing more harm than good and is ultimately unfair to LeBron James. (more…)

Mark Cuban On What Makes A Black Kid Threatening

I’m sure all of us have much more important things to do than to worry about the race theorizing of random billionaires, but I thought I’d spare a few pixels on a quote from Mark Cuban — dot-com billionaire and owner of the NBA franchise Dallas Mavericks.

In early June, NBA team owners will come together and vote on whether or not to oust Donald Sterling — the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers — from the league. As you may recall, a few months ago, Sterling was caught on voice recording imploring his biracial girlfriend not to consort publicly with black people.  Mark Cuban, who has been hesitant to condemn Sterling’s comments, not so much for their content but for the fact that they were intended to be private, spoke recently in an interview admitting his own biases. Here’s the money quote:

I know I’m prejudiced and I know I’m bigoted in a lot of different ways. If I see a black kid in a hoodie on my side of the street, I’ll move to the other side of the street. If I see a white guy with a shaved head and tattoos, I’ll move back to the other side of the street. None of us have pure thoughts, we all live in glass houses.

I don’t mean to read too much into Cuban’s statement, but I find it interesting that for a “black kid” to be threatening he must only don a hoodie (indeed, by this calculus, I’ve been threatening for the majority of my life). Yet for a “white guy” to reach the same street-crossing threshold “a shaved head and tattoos” are required.

Whether Mark Cuban realizes what he’s admitted here or not is irrelevant and he’s not alone in this way of thinking. We should all realize, however, that this is the magic that turns innocent black kids into murderers and thieves. This is the magic that transforms gun-toting, vigilante, neighborhood watchmen into heroes.

Deford: No Respect For The Women On The Sidelines

In honor of this years Men’s NCAA basketball tournament, I’d like to offer up an NPR piece from sportswriter Frank Deford. With the dearth of female color commentators on the scene, it seems just as relevant today as it did when it first aired a few years back. You can listen to it here. Transcript below.

Football season has hardly started and fans are already grousing about sideline reporters. To be sure, sideliners now exist in most all sports, and a handful of them –– notably Craig Sager of Turner, who was apparently in town the day the clown died, and thus got all his clothes –– are downright famous. While Sager is best known for basketball, it is football sideline reporters who are most identified with the sport.

That is because, just as football offensive linemen are supposed to be fat, football sideline reporters are supposed to be women –– attractive women. Who can ever forget a drunken Joe Namath mumbling to one of the poor sideliners that he wanted to kiss her? But, evidently, it is the television version of the laws of the Medes and the Persians that football sideline reporters must be female. There’s even a website: Presumably, TV believes that a touch of pulchritude at the mic improves ratings –– affirmative attraction action.

And so the sideliners are delegated to freeze down on the tundra while the male play-by-play announcer and his hefty old gridiron warrior expert babble on comfortably up in the heated booth. The sideline reporter is sort of like the scroll at the bottom of the screen, which, especially on ESPN, rolls on endlessly, even when it doesn’t have anything of consequence to say. Likewise, the sideliner. If you’ve got the technology for a scroll or a live body on the field, use it.

The most asinine task sideliners are required to carry out is to ask coaches, before the second half, what plans they have for the rest of the game. The coach who’s ahead says he wants to keep up the intensity and avoid turnovers. The coach who’s behind says he wants to get more physical and avoid turnovers. Back to the booth. And all the guys watching with their buddies laugh at the ditzy babes who ask such obvious stupid questions.

But the irony is that most sideline reporters –– whatever sport, whichever gender –– really have done their homework and really do know their stuff. Most of them are terribly overqualified for the assignment of being a human scroll. But, of course, whereas it has not been uncommon for years for newspapers to have women on the football beat, television wouldn’t dare allow a female up into the booth to actually call the game.

The funny thing is –– as I was reminded when I heard Mary Carillo doing tennis commentary during the U.S. Open –– is that when you hear a female voice in tandem with a male voice, the contrast sets off both advantageously –– as TV stations always pair male and female anchors on the local news.

But in sports television, sideline reporters can only go side to side, never up. Their place is down on the field, with the cheerleaders.