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Bill Simmons’ New Grantland.com Website Intended to be Like 30 for 30 Docs

ESPN issued a press release on Thursday regarding the new website Bill Simmons has been working on the past 18 months. The site will be named Grantland.com in honor of sportswriter Grantland Rice and it will launch in June. Dan Fierman, Lane Brown, and Jay Caspian Kang will be editors, while Chuck Klosterman, Malcolm Gladwell, and Dave Eggers will be contributing editors. Contributing writers will be Michael Weinreb, Katie Baker, Molly Lambert, Chris Ryan, Robert Mays III, Bill Barnwell, and Patrice Evans.

As for the goal of the site, Simmons says “my No. 1 goal was to figure out how to capture the spirit and creativity of 30 for 30 and transfer it to a website. We wanted original voices, and we found a bunch of them already. We’re going to take chances, come up with a few premises and ideas that you haven’t seen before, and be consistently entertaining day after day. You will never know what to expect when you come to the site – in a good way. That’s our ultimate goal.”

Well, I’ve loved the 30 for 30 documentaries and I know many other people have, so if they’re able to capture the spirit and creativity of those pieces, the site should be a winner. Just by being a Bill Simmons production, it should have instant popularity and credibility. My guess is the site will be a success.

LA Times Explains Decision to Print ‘Faggot’ in Kobe Story Online, in Paper

Anyone who opened up their LA Times on Thursday or read the online version of Mike Bresnahan’s story on Kobe being caught on camera saying “f—ing f—–” may have been surprised to see the full text of Kobe’s homophobic slur published. Whereas most news organizations used the term “homophobic slur” or blurred out the word, the Times actually printed the offensive word in its story. You can see that in both the newspaper and online version:

It was quite shocking to see the word “faggot” in the newspaper as LBS contributor Gene pointed out, so we asked the Los Angeles Times what led to their decision to print the offensive word. The Times’ VP of Communications, Nancy Sullivan, explained it to us over email:

“Derogatory terms such as the one in the Kobe Bryant story are rarely printed in the paper, for obvious reasons. However, when the use of the word IS the story, as was the case with Bryant’s utterance, it is important to print it for clarity and accountability. This has happened with the other offensive terms in years past. But using such offensive words is never done lightly and, as was the case in this instance, is always cleared at the highest level of the editorial department. There needs to be a very good reason to use it, and in this case, because Bryant’s use of the term and the strong reaction to it from several different corners were the reason for the story, our judgment was to go with it.”

Juxtaposing the decision to publish the actual slur was the decision to describe Kobe’s f-bomb as a “curse word.” It was a tough call for the Times’ editorial department as you can tell, and I’m not sure if printing the offensive term helps or harms the message. Obviously we concur that when the word becomes the story it’s hard to avoid publishing it (as we did in the title), but it was no easy decision for the paper, especially because many people find the word to be offensive. If they didn’t, then Kobe’s words wouldn’t have become a story.

Tara Sullivan Denied Access to Locker Room at Masters, Augusta Apologizes

On a day that Charl Schwartzel stole the show at the Masters and Rory McIlroy had a historic collapse, the outdated set of gender rules at Augusta National managed to take over golf headlines.

Tara Sullivan, a columnist for The Bergen Record of New Jersey, changed the conversation when she tweeted that she wasn’t allowed in the locker room for an interview. “Bad enough no women members at Augusta. But not allowing me to join writers in locker room interview is just wrong,” she wrote.

The tweet quickly spread throughout the twitterverse and turned into an Associated Press story.

It was no matter that the officials at Augusta apologized for the mistake as soon as they heard about the problem. It was no matter that they paged Sullivan to address the matter immediately.

As soon as her tweet spread throughout the media, the damage had already been done.

What’s most interesting about the story is that it was actually a female security guard who stopped Sullivan to say she wasn’t allowed in the locker room. The security guard was persistent with the policy according to Sullivan, and it sure seems like she was mistaken with her rules. But if the Masters is so biased as gender biased club, wouldn’t it have been a male security guard denying Sullivan access? I would think so, and this just further confirms it was a mistake.

I just hope people don’t use this story as an excuse to explore Augusta National’s male-only membership policy. As a club, they have the right to restrict membership to males, just as female clubs can do the same. Take this for what it was — a mistake, and nothing more. Too bad Charl Schwartzel’s win will likely be overshadowed because of it.

Jalen Rose Arrested on DUI Suspicion Week of Fab Five Documentary

Jalen Rose, the former Michigan Fab Five star and NBA veteran, has been in the news quite a bit recently, but now it’s for the wrong reason. Rose was arrested on March 11th, the week his Fab Five documentary aired on ESPN, and cited on suspicion of driving drunk. According to WDIV’s report:

Rose was arrested just after 2 a.m. on Walnut Lake Road just west of Middlebelt Road after a passer-by called officers to report seeing a Cadillac Escalade that appeared to have gone off the side of the road. Police said Rose was not hurt but refused to take a breathalyzer at the scene and was taken to Henry Ford Hospital hospital for a blood test. Police have not released the results of the blood test.

Had Rose been found guilty of DUI, he most likely would have been sacked by the LBS Nut Bag, but we must reserve judgment until the results of the blood test are released.

What makes the timing of the arrest extremely notable is that Rose stirred up controversy in his documentary saying he hated Duke. Rose said he felt Duke only recruited Uncle Toms which prompted a bold response from Bobby Hurley, and more recently, a response from Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski. You have to figure at this point that many people feel it’s the karma police getting Rose back for the documentary, but we’ll wait for the official word before going all in.

CBS, TBS, TNT, and truTV Doing Fantastic Job with March Madness Coverage

We’re midway through the first day of the 2011 NCAA Tournament and the quality of games has been fantastic. We’ve seen a four seed get upset by a 13 seed, and there has been game-winner after game-winner after game-winner at the buzzer. You really can’t ask for much more in terms of having exciting, competitive games in March Madness.

What must really be commended is the new setup for the games schedule. For the first time I can remember, they decided to stagger the start times. There’s generally a good 15 minute difference between the time one game starts and another one does, which means we no longer have to miss really good endings. As long as the games aren’t taking too long — which they haven’t — the staggered start times allows viewers to see the final 10 minutes of pretty much every single game.

As if that’s not enough, having all games broadcast simultaneously is a dream for cable and satellite TV holders. In the past, a March Madness tournament package was offered and if you wanted to see all the games you had to pay a significant charge (and sometimes the game you wanted to watch still wasn’t accessible). Now, all games are available at no extra charge. And as a bonus, it’s extremely convenient to locate the games on DirecTV.

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Kirk Herbstreit Moved Out of Ohio Because of Fan Heckling

Kirk Herbstreit and his family have moved out of Ohio. Take it from one who knows: moving it tough, not fun. It must be even less fun when you are heckled out of town.  According to Herbsteit, that’s exactly why he and his family chose to relocate to Nashville, Tenn.

Herbstreit was a quarterback at The Ohio State in the late 80s and early 90s.  Although he works as a college football analyst for ESPN, he insists you won’t find a bigger Buckeyes fan in the country. “Nobody loves Ohio State more than me,” Herbstreit told The Columbus Dispatch. “I still have a picture of Woody Hayes and my dad (Jim, a former OSU player) in my office, and nobody will do more than I do for the university behind the scenes.”

However, Herbstreit said there is a small fraction of the Ohio State community that takes issue with his responsibility as an objective analyst, and it was their criticism over the years that forced him out of Ohio.  “I’ve got a job to do, and I’m going to continue to be fair and objective,” he explained. “To continue to have to defend myself and my family in regards to my love and devotion to Ohio State is unfair.”

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Fans Miss End of Kansas-Missouri Game Because of Sun Spots Affecting CBS Feed

The tournament hasn’t even started yet but we’re already having complaints from fans about getting their game switched out for another one on CBS. Only this one appears to be due to a legitimate technical error rather than the judgment of an individual.

During Saturday’s border war on the hardwood between Missouri and Kansas, fans in Kansas City, Columbus, and St. Louis had their game on CBS switched to the Michigan-Michigan State contest as I learned from KC radio host Nick Wright. Other fans across the country lost the Kansas-Missouri feed, but were apparently intentionally switched to the Arizona-Oregon game instead.

KU Sports says “KCTV5 apologized to viewers and said that CBS told them the problem related to sun spots causing problems with the satellite feed from the national network.” They’re saying the problem won’t happen again which is good, because I’ve never heard of such an issue.

Kansas may have been ahead by a dozen points with three minutes left in the game, but if there’s anything I know about the Jayhawks it’s that you don’t screw with their fans when it comes to basketball. You mess that up, you get fury and CBS learned that the hard way.