It's no secret that Northwestern, the Chicago Blackhawks and the Chicago Cubs are inextricably linked; at numerous levels. While the Cubs are a brand synonymous with prodigious and incessant losing, the Blackhawks have risen to the cream of the NHL crop in the past few years, winning Stanley Cup championships in 2010 and 2013.
However, they're not a dynasty. Northwestern lacrosse, with seven titles in nine years, now that's dynastic.
Northwestern women's lacrosse, currently #5 in the polls, has beaten six teams in the top 15 this year, including a big win over #4 North Carolina. Tonight Northwestern lacrosse beat USC 12-7 in front of a paid attendance of 5,145 at Wrigley Field, home of the Cubs. It improved NU's record to 10-5, ending their two game losing streak. The five losses are two more than we've seen in any entire season since 2003, the second season in which the Wildcats have been under the helm of Coach Kelly Amonte-Hiller.
You've no doubt heard a ton about Northwestern football players being legally deemed employees and being granted the right to unionize. Even if the NU football team votes against unionizing on April 25th, they're still legally employees.
Kain Colter's "the NCAA acts like a dictatorship" soundbite made The Colbert Report
. NU Coach Pat Fitzgerald's media session made The Daily Show.
The unionization battle is on every channel in every medium all of the time.
And when something is this ridiculously saturated in over-coverage to this grandiose effect, you unfortunately know what follows next.
We've had tons of misinformation, pathetically bad sports punditry and sports "political" bloviators adopting ridiculously indefensible positions on this case, simply because they're desperate to drive up their terrible ratings.
We'll expound more on all of this, but first here are two principles I need you, the reader, to take away from this column before proceeding further.
1.) None of these idiotic opinions, nor even the smart, informed opinions, actually matter in the long run. My opinion is worthless too. Unless you're a labor law expert, what you say has little to no relevance.
2.) This is not a media-driven story. It is not over-hyped. This is important; it's history, but that still doesn't make the fans actually care. The media loves this story, not the people. The media over-report this because it's cheap and easy to "report," and since no one actually knows what is going to happen, there's more speculation, less actual reporting going on. The only "work" the media are actually doing here is copying and pasting press releases, legal statements and then opining on them.
This story does nothing to drive ratings, readerships or page view clicks. AT ALL.
Debates about collective bargaining in sports, debates that could take over a decade in the Federal appeals process to be settled, is not what the people are looking for. Stories about Hooter's waitresses, Playboy bunnies, cheerleaders, drunk/dead celebrities or famous drunk/dead celebrity former Hooter's waitress/Playboy bunny/cheerleaders are what the people want.
Kain Colter and CAPA (College Athletes Players Association) scored a huge victory today, as the National Labor Relations Board ruled in their favor. I'm sure the face of the NCAA, Mark Emmert, has had some better days than today.
Remember when the local media here told us NU's legal team was CRUSHING CAPA's legal team during the hearing?
When they were unfairly smearing Kain Colter?
When they were basically vilifying Colter and mocking his Navy Seals comment?
Without actually taking the time to examine the historical credibility behind his statements?
When they were basically trying to instill the socially regressive and condescending "just shut up and play, jock" misnomer onto Kain Colter...
Northwestern basketball upset Iowa tonight, setting up a date with Tom Izzo and Michigan State in the next round of the Big Ten Tournament. It's difficult to beat the same team three times in a single season, as the very shopworn cliche goes. MSU beat NU by double digits twice this season. However, Iowa beat Northwestern basketball twice, by 26 points each time, and they were still upset by the Wildcats in Indianapolis.
NU is now 3-0 in the state of Indiana. And on day one of the Big Ten Tournament, teams from the state of Illinois represented; while teams from other states that start with the letter "I" were sent packing from the Big Ten Tourney.
Iowa basketball had beaten Northwestern basketball five in a row heading into this one. Now the Hawkeyes have lost seven of their last eight overall; the only win over very hapless Purdue...
Northwestern graduate Britt McHenry is the latest Medill School of Journalism product to join the World Wide Leader. She's based in D.C. but on St. Patrick's Day (she indeed has the luck of the Irish) she will start doing national work for ESPN.
More Britt McHenry photos and career bio at this link
. And check out the gallery in this post too.
-Screen grab below is from Fox Sports Live (their version of SportsCenter) on Fox Sports 1. When he visited Northwestern, I asked University of Minnesota Golden Gophers Coach Richard Pitino about the top trending topic in college basketball this season- that would be Twitter. Quite a few big name college hoops coaches publicly discussed social media and the adverse effect it’s having on their programs and players: Tom Izzo, Thad Matta, Pitino's Dad Rick Pitino, John Calipari, Following the Golden Gophers 54-48 win at Northwestern, Richard Pitino gave a very colorful and insightful answer to my question.
Northwestern basketball won at Indiana 54-47 back on January 18th, but the Hoosiers came into Welsh-Ryan Arena tonight and avenged that loss by winning at NU by a score of 61-56. Northwestern basketball was missing it's second leading scorer Jershon Cobb, who might return this season. Or he might not be back this year.
He's out indefinitely, and he's been dealing with a knee issue as well.
"Certainly it's a huge blow to take anybody's second leading scorer off your team," said Chris Collins in the postgame press conference. "Certainly no one wants to be out there more than Jershon."
It's the fifth straight loss for NU, who's postseason hopes are fading fast. The Hoosiers boast a likely top ten NBA Draft pick in Noah Vonleh and a potential first rounder in 2015 in Troy Williams. The Wildcats were short-handed and IU just had too much talent for them to overcome. The 'Cats were missing their back-up center Nikola Cerina who was suspended for throwing a punch on Ohio State's Amir Williams on Wednesday. And their starting center, Alex Olah was playing on two sprained ankles. So they really went in to this one short-handed.
Collins' team played great team defense, and were able to stop some of Indiana's weapons. However, you can't stop everybody. And they fell to Tom Crean a.k.a. basketball Ron Zook.
"When you're under-manned you gotta live with something," Collins said.
So that's the Northwestern basketball side of Northwestern basketball social media night. Let's get to the social media side of Northwestern basketball social media night...
Very big news today as we now have a third sports talk radio station, WGN Radio's 87.7 FM The Game, to compete with CBS' WSCR 670 The Score and ESPN MVP AM 1000. The Game is the local sports media story that everyone is talking about just like Kelly Crull, of Comcast SportsNet Chicago is the one sports media personality that everyone is talking about. We'll go into detail on both in this notebook.
We'll also cover the trend of college basketball coaches trashing Twitter and social media, and get thoughts from Northwestern's Chris Collins on the matter. We'll also cover Comcast SportsNet producing a very compelling special on White Sox World Series hero Bobby Jenks and much more...
broadcaster Bill Walton
granted me an exclusive this week. The video of the entire Q&A is linked here.
I asked Walton his thoughts on Northwestern Coach Chris Collins. Today's devastating home loss to Nebrasketball aside, Collins has some made noise in his first year at the helm, guiding them to .500 in the Big Ten, before the loss to Nebraska today.
The thoughts and opinions of Bill Walton on Chris Collins are transcribed below. Hall of Famer and one of the consensus top 50 players in league history, Walton was joined on the interview by his son, former NBA
player Luke Walton
Together, they are the third father-son duo to win NBA championships. Bill Walton, the #1 overall pick in the 1974 NBA Draft has won numerous individual accolades as well. He's such a big national icon of the game that even his Twitter
parody account, @NotBillWalton
(156,000 followers) is an internet star in his own right.
The real Bill Walton, The Big Red, is one of the most colorful and controversial commentators in basketball history...
Northwestern Coach Pat Fitzgerald formally announced a 15-man recruiting class today that is among the most highly rated in program history. It's possibly Fitzgerald’s highest rated recruiting class ever-
#38 nationally by ESPN, with a composite player rating of 85.37 according to 247Sports--best in recent memory.
Rivals ranks this Northwestern recruiting class 59th overall, Scout says 50th. The press conference was held at Ditka’s restaurant in the Gold Coast, which was great for everyone involved. Much more convenient, especially given the snow, ice and hazardous travel conditions.
An insanely rough winter it has indeed been, and Northwestern
SID Paul Kennedy got the presser rolling with this weather related joke:
"Thanks for coming in the snow. This would have crippled the entire Southeastern Conference."
Recruiting, perhaps more than any topic in all of sports, is very internet driven. Internet media and the outlets that cover recruiting have a very symbiotic relationship. Throughout the press conference, Pat Fitzgerald constantly remarked about how the internet has changed recruiting...
When it comes to Kain Colter, the Northwestern football team supporting him,
and the College Athletes Players Association
with which they stand, there are not "two sides" to this issue. That's one of the biggest fallacies of journalism- that every story needs "both sides" to be "fair and balanced."
Global warming or "climate change" exists, it's man made and it's destroying the Earth. The science is in on this and it's conclusive. Follow this guy on Twitter for more.
There is no "debate."
Regarding college athletes in the revenue producing sports, they are being exploited for their unpaid labor. Period.
The debate begins with what are we going to do to remedy it? A full ride scholarship for basketball and football players was a fair deal in the 1950s, when:
-College football TV contracts, and the revenue that they produced were a miniscule fraction of what they are today
-Coaches and administrators made a mere pittance compared to the exorbitant salaries they receive today
-Most people didn't even go to college, so a bachelor's degree gave you a tremendous competitive advantage in the labor market
-College football, and March Madness in college basketball were nowhere remotely close to the extremely lucrative national past times that they are today
So as the invisible hand of the "free market" has evolved in the last 65 years, why shouldn't compensation of the labor that provides the very backbone of the industry?
If you have any sense of American capitalism, of the ideals of "pure competition" and "free enterprise," there's only one side you can take in this fight. To be against Kain Colter and the NU football players
is to be completely morally and intellectually bankrupt...