Clearing the desk of leftovers and notes in the middle of summer
Erin Andrews, who belongs to the ubiquitous herd of female NFL sideline reporters, is switching teams. She’s leaving one NFL broadcasting team at Fox — I can’t remember which one — to join another team — I can’t remember which one.
Apparently, Andrews’ move to wherever is a big deal. I base this on the extensive, days-long coverage it received. You would have thought Harry Reid was changing parties.
Maybe you’re wondering this: Who cares? She’s a sideline reporter, the most overrated, overhyped, superfluous job in sports. When is the last time a sideline reporter told you anything even mildly interesting or noteworthy? Their questions are often inane, the answers predictable.
Even if they were capable of more, they are constrained by so many NFL rules — for one thing, they can’t report what they overhear on the sideline, only what they see — that the one advantage they have of being on the sideline is nullified. And when they have a chance to illuminate us about something with some tough questions, they pretty much turn into mush in front of a coach or athlete.
Take Andrews, for instance. She interviewed pitcher Adam Wainwright at the MLB All-Star Game after he admitted he set up a “couple of pipe shots” for Derek Jeter, the soon-to-be-retired sentimental favorite. Those comments generated a Twitter storm, and Andrews had an opportunity to pursue the ethics of helping an opponent. But when Wainwright backed off his statements, she thanked him “for clearing that up.”
Let’s be honest: Mining nuggets of information is not the real purpose of Andrews’ job anyway. Or is it just a coincidence that so many of the sideline reporters are young, attractive females, and that they tend to lose their jobs when they reach middle age. OK, if networks want to bring females to the sideline, fine. I just wish they’d get one who had wit and/or an edge to them. Please, wake me if they sign up Chelsea Handler, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler or Kristen Wiig for the job.
* * * * *
Let’s see if we’ve got this straight: LeBron James, who jilted Cleveland with a long, drawn-out courting process, un-jilted Cleveland by jilting Miami with a long, drawn-out courting process.
It helps to have a short memory. Four years ago, Cleveland fans were burning James’ jersey and owner Dan Gilbert was excoriating him in an open letter, and now all of the above are welcoming him back with open arms after he signed to return to the Cavaliers. Do they know that his contract is for just two years, which means we’ll soon have to endure The DECISION III. It’s also worth mentioning that in his open letter Gilbert wrote, in all caps, “I PERSONALLY GUARANTEE THAT THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS WILL WIN AN NBA CHAMPIONSHIP BEFORE THE SELF-TITLED FORMER 'KING' WINS ONE.”
OOPS. James has a couple of championships, but according to my calculations, he still owes Miami. Didn’t he say he was going to win at least eight championships with the Heat? “I’m not just up here blowing smoke,” he said at the time. Uh, yes, he was. According to my math, he needs six more. If he hadn’t lost two of the four NBA Finals in which he appeared — not counting one with Cleveland — he would be halfway there.
By the way, LeBron isn’t the first to jilt Cleveland. In 1996 the original Cleveland Browns moved their franchise to Baltimore to become the Ravens, who went on to win two Super Bowls, the same number of championships as James. Now they are pinning their hopes on, ahem, party boy Johnny Manziel. Good luck with that.
* * * * *
For decades we have been told that America will catch up with the world in soccer — and yet the World Cup results are pretty much always the same for the men. Go figure. Major League Soccer has grown steadily. David Beckham came to the U.S. to give the sport a boost here, as did Pele decades ago. Youth participation in the sport has soared — more than 15 million kids play soccer in the United States. Participation in high school soccer has more than doubled in the past 24 years, making it the fastest-growing prep sport, according to The New York Times. It hasn’t helped. Since 1990, American men in the World Cup have finished, in order, 23rd, 14th, 32nd, 8th, 25th, 12th and 15th.
One reader sent an email to me noting that the world has caught up with the U.S. in basketball, but the U.S. hasn’t caught up with the world in soccer, despite the advantages of being one of the world’s richest, most populous nations.
Doug Robinson's columns run on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org