Monthly Archives: July 2008


Hello, all-

A quick announcement: Spolitical will be going on an extended yet temporary hiatus. The book I’m writing is due to the publisher by January 1, so it’s time for me to devote as much time as possible to that project. Once I’m done, regular postings will resume. If you’d like to be notified when the blog is active once again, then please drop me a line at, and I’ll be sure to let you know at that time. Until then …

Be blessed and well,



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Olympic Ads

Rings has a run-down of several high-profile television spots that are running in Beijing right now. They’re disappointingly light on post-Cultural Revolution weirdness, but I must say this Adidas ad is pretty cool:

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Morning Money Quotes

The NYT on the recent terrorist attacks in Beijing:

Chinese investigators have found no evidence that fatal explosions on two public buses in the southwestern city of Kunming were terrorist attacks linked to the Beijing Olympics, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Tuesday.

Shysterball on Wallace Matthews’ bizarre Andy Pettitte/Jason Giambi hit piece:

The right way is to approach it from a place of reason and informed judgment. To analyze the players’ performance, perhaps, and see how much of a benefit PEDs actually gave them. Maybe even to rationally scrutinize comments and habits going forward to see whether Pettitte’s and Giambi’s stated remorse for their drug use is legit or not. And certainly to follow up on actual evidence — as opposed to baseless conjecture — to see if either of them have fallen off the PED wagon.

The WSJ on the financial costs of the Beijing Olympics:

Holger Preuss, a professor of sports economics at Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany, says Beijing has set a precedent that future hosts, including London, won’t be able to match. “Many [International Olympic Committee] members are already thinking we have to find a way to reduce the size of the Games to make more cities able to really host the Games. Because if it continues — just think of $50 billion — maybe only 10 cities in the world can afford 50 billion.”

The Detroit News on the Lions’ Caleb Campbell, his football career, and his military commitments:

Campbell is in a crossfire on multiple fronts: conflicting views among active and retired servicemen on whether a service-academy graduate should go on active duty immediately; the prospect of facing a grueling pro training camp; and his own ambitions to play pro football and continue his career as an army officer.

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Basketball and Globalism

These days, performing triage on the NBA is a tricky endeavor. The most treacherous issue facing the Association is the still-developing Tim Donaghy scandal, but one that’s close behind, albeit in more of a long-range fashion, is the loss of talent to Europe.

First, there’s the Brandon Jennings saga. To recap: Jennings, rather than spend one year playing for the University of Arizona for free, opted instead to sign a multi-year contract (including NBA release provisions) with an Italian professional team.

Much hand-wringing followed Jennings’ pioneering decision, but it’s a problem of the NBA’s making. Commissioner David Stern’s minimum-age requirement for the NBA draft means players can no longer enter the draft directly from high school. The rule came about because Stern believed the on-court rawness and social immaturity of high-school draftees was hurting the brand. So, bolstered by the assumption that the players in question would spend the idle year in college (thereby giving the NBA a year of free development time), Stern and his associates decreed that no more 18-year-olds would be making the leap.

But Jennings proved to be smarter than Stern. Almost certainly, Jennings’ maneuvering will start a trend, and that trend will ultimately unravel the minimum-age requirement. But here’s another worry for Stern and the Association: the global economy.

Bostjan Nachbar, formerly of the New Jersey Nets, just inked a $14.3-million contract with Dynamo Moscow, and he had a few choice parting words for his old league:

“The NBA had better be careful,” Nachbar said. “European teams are offering a lot of money. It’s much more, considering there are no taxes, than what I could make signing for the midlevel exception.”

As Nachbar says, many European players pay no taxes, and, with one Euro trading at more than $1.50, the exchange rates make the U.S.-to-Europe jump all the more alluring–whether you’re Brandon Jennings or Bostjan Nachbar. Furthermore, as Hoops World observes, Nachbar’s exodus is not an anomaly, and the European leagues know this. Heck, Josh Childress could be next.

In any event, I see a couple of eventual consequences. One, the NBA’s structural salary restrictions may be necessarily rolled back. After all, the League will tolerate only so much talent drain before they institute the reforms needed to attract players back to the States. Two, the emigration in tandem with the NBA’s zeal for international expansion makes me wonder whether we’ll eventually wind up with a system similar to that of international soccer. You know, one in which major leagues (i.e., hoops analogs for the Premiership, Serie A, etc.) are competing for the same players and are also taking on one another in international tournaments. In other words, are we soon going to see the UEFA of basketball?

However you envision the future of the NBA, sweeping changes are on the way. And the best part is that they’re asking for it.


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Morning Money Quotes

Tom Knott of the Washington Times on the Beijing Games:

The Beijing Games promise to give Americans an opportunity to rethink their view of the Asian behemoth. Americans often object to China’s most egregious practices in theory but support them with their pocketbook.

The Caucus on Sen. John McCain’s recent visit to Yankee Stadium:

After the Saturday night fundraisers, during a helicopter ride back to Manhattan, Mr. McCain was asked about his baseball loyalties before the Arizona Diamondbacks franchise began playing in 1998. His response, immediate and unequivocal, was one not likely to please the thousands of Yankee fans in whose company he was going to spend his Sunday afternoon: he had been a Boston Red Sox fan.

The WSJ on how expected changes to the U.S. tax code could affect the sale of the Pittsburgh Steelers:

Adding urgency to the Pittsburgh transaction is the prospect of a Democratic President in 2009 who opposes repeal of the death tax and wants to raise the tax rate for capital gains. Barack Obama has promised to raise the rate from 15% to at least 25%, and perhaps the Clinton-era peak of 28%.

The NYT on a federal appeals court’s overturning the FCC’s record fine levied against CBS for the Janet Jackson/Super Bowl halftime show “wardrobe malfunction”:

“Like any agency, the F.C.C. may change its policies without judicial second-guessing,” the court said. “But it cannot change a well-established course of action without supplying notice of and a reasoned explanation for its policy departure.”

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Gallery of Olympic Protest Art

Posted without comment, art that skewers the People’s Republic and its serialized assaults on human rights (full gallery after the jump) …

Reporters Without Borders

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Bad News for Soccer WAGs

The run-up to the 2010 World Cup has provided global soccer WAGs with grim and harrowing news: the possibility of legalized prostitution in South Africa. Maybe the best hope for footballer fidelity is that FIFA will decide to move the Cup to another country. Like Brazil! Oh, wait


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