Could Coronavirus Kill the Regional Sports Network?

It might seem a little callous to speculate on implications for entertainment industries while thousands of people die every day from the COVID-19 pandemic and millions lose their jobs, but as Major League Baseball tries to figure out a way to restructure a 2020 season, the NFL opts to draft from Roger Goodell’s basement, and the NBA throws together a H-O-R-S-E tournament, I’d argue that the issues are out there and worth exploring. A disclosure: I work in broadcasting, and so much of the following article’s main points certainly fall under my personal livelihood just as much as my interests as a sports fan. There’s absolutely a conflict of interest here, but I have zero ability to change anything about the present status quo within the industry, so this is merely an opinion of someone within the trade. I’ll also be using Colorado as a bit of a microcosm for the rest of the sports broadcasting industry, as it’s my understanding the business model is generally similar to most other areas.

Since MLB Spring Training was halted, not a day has gone by where I didn’t mourn the lack of baseball or think about my beloved New York Yankees. After last season, I’ve spent the off-time oscillating between chomping at the bit for the fellas to get back on the field and worrying about injuries and contracts, like any fan. I count myself lucky that this virus has yet to touch anyone close to me and I’m an “essential worker” that’s thankfully avoided layoffs, so it feels okay to lament about how much easier a quarantine would be if there was a realistic and safe way to distract a terrified, shut-in America with a couple of its favorite pastimes. A big part of feeling like things have “gotten back to normal” will be having sports and their corresponding large gatherings back again.

I splurged on seeing the Nuggets this year and was excited to get back to Coors Field and see the Rockies more regularly than my three or four games a season. The Avalanche were on a dominant tear that undoubtedly would’ve led to a playoff run, and like every year, I had resolved that the 2019-2020 season would finally be the year I got into hockey and follow the NBA closer than highlights and playoff games. Unfortunately, a contract dispute between Colorado’s regional sports network, Altitude Sports, and every major cable or satellite provider in the state meant games from the Rockies, Avalanche, or the Nuggets would have extremely little opportunity to be televised outside of national network showcases. This is still ongoing and has led to both a potentially landmark antitrust case and local bars pirating streams to keep up traditional revenue.

Before I go on to make the case that professional sports should be broadcast on local over-the-air signals, it bears mentioning that I side with Altitude in the contract dispute with the telecommunications infrastructure providers. Regional sports networks (RSNs from here on out), have their own employees and contractors for production and reporting and are giving cable and satellite providers one of the last products cord cutters can’t legally and reliably find an alternative for (yet). To squeeze the networks for a larger share of revenue when it’s only a matter of time before RSNs start fielding streaming deals independent of cable and satellite providers a la the YES Network’s presently-in-limbo arrangements with Amazon Prime seems extremely irresponsible and short-sighted.

Altitude was already likely taking a huge financial hit with its contract dispute before the pandemic hit. It’s not available over-the-air, with YouTube TV or other streaming platforms, and costs extra on top of the base cable package. This is the case with most RSNs. Other than the NFL, most professional sports are carried exclusively on a “premium” channel. Starving for content with sports cancelled, how long could an RSN remain solvent, and could they float for months or years until society is able to safely turn a corner on COVID-19? Broadcast television production and sports journalism are both specialized trades, and there’s surely been employee furloughs and layoffs, and non-renewals for workers on contract already. Those workers and personalities, vital to the quality of the network’s product as well as at the very least partially responsible to viewer retention, might not be back.

A larger question regarding the potential of floundering RSN might be should we even have them?  Continue reading →

Official Notice Regarding the End of the Unexplained and Unannounced Indefinite Hiatus

Just as in the Aughts, when people still read blogs, in the 90s, people subscribed to magazines. These were the decades of my childhood, reading and news consumption was different then. You paid $29.99 a year for several Ivy League dicks to repackage a Pentagon press release so you could learn about “The Crisis in Somalia,” it sat on a coffee table as a kind of milquetoast status symbol, and then, sometime around April, the charge would fuck up your checkbook balancing because you forgot about it and like a New Year’s Resolution during a hangover, you’d decide to pick it back up before remembering Joel Stein as a kind of a blowhard failson and continuing the coffee table ritual once again.

This phenomenon for the reader is remarkably similar to what vain, unpaid indie blogger holdouts experience with their yearly WordPress webhosting bill a full two decades after blogs stopped being relevant reading, as the discourse went bite-sized, or devoured through earbuds by a half-asleep light rail commuter. I live, still, a year later, and for some reason still yearn to broadcast my dropout garbage person thoughts into the ether. My relationship with blogging, characterized as a sort of half-talk-radio-half-newspaper-column informal article writing, is not unlike my stormy betrothal to fiction writing. You sit on ideas, procrastinate, allow yourself to atrophy, and then ultimately decide getting back to your marital home half shitfaced is probably going to get you in more trouble than disappearing onto a westbound Greyhound bus route for a week or two until somebody files a missing person’s report.

Admittedly, my laziness is a blessing here. I lost my debit card in an ATM inside of an Arby’s twice last year, and waited until the final hours of my renewal period to decide to probably start writing again. An election year, traditionally, is my time to shine. Around the start of 2020, I figured I’d throw on the jaded black hoodie of my vandal youth and don my “I’m only in it for the horse race” hat and prepare to clown the sinister and false earnestness of the Democratic Party’s primary process while also couching hope that the age of illiterate, frothing-mad fascism of Republican power is waning. This spurt of productivity didn’t materialize, thankfully, or I’d be subjected to an embarrassing internal dialogue as I reviewed those posts, ridiculing my fleeting hope that a man like Bernie Sanders was a Sure Thing after vanquishing a rat-faced neoliberal mayor spouting empty platitudes in a deliberate clusterfuck Iowa Caucus, the narrow triumph in hard-nosed New Hampshire, and a complete, victory-lap worthy blowout in Nevada before watching voter suppression, an in-the-tank media apparatus and the antibodies of the Party Elite work in wish-dashing concert to coronate a senile Blue Dog Democrat with sexual assault allegations to go up against Lawrence Limburger from Biker Mice from Mars in November.

Lawrence Limburger | Villains Wiki | Fandom

How embarrassing that would’ve been, for me. I’m not particularly incisive regarding policy or legislation, but for a moment I had found a reluctant compromise in the Sanders campaign. He’s the only half-decent man to have a viable run for the office since The Party fucked McGovern, so it was only natural for him to crumble under the weight of an oppressive and insincere fetishization of civility and a craving for the same corporate-consolidated “normalcy” that has fucked the average worker since the dawn of economic globalization. As I sit here, at my deemed-essential night shift position, in Plague April reeking of hand sanitizer, I can’t help but feel smug as I reminisce over the last month’s total failure of Holy Free Market Capitalism, and inspired by the acts of Mutual Aid helping keep knots of people afloat. Like a bittersweet Charlie Horse, a spasm of both teenage anarchist “told-you-so” sure-headed glad-handing meets my regrettable cautious optimism that perhaps, representative democracy might do the right thing for once and it might be a laugh to, as ironically as possible, celebrate the Fourth of July in 2021.

It was not to be.

But they had to cheat. Fifteen years of hammering Emma Goldman quotes on electoralism into my brain didn’t dissuade me from getting taken by the siren song of wondering if for once in the thirty years I’ve been on this planet, everything wouldn’t intentionally and systemically suck fucking shit. What a fool, to even momentarily think you could vote your way through a middlemen orc horde snarling on behalf of the pedophile Monopoly Men, when the answer, of course, as I’ve known for most of my adult life, was to come together and raise a mob of Marauders, knives in their teeth, and rampage until the vampires and their world have been reduced to ashes beneath thousands of pairs of vegan Doc Martins. Continue reading →

Arvada Police’s Feel-Good Vest Copaganda is Trash

As if Super Bowl 53 could’ve gotten worse, the shitty town I’m imminently moving out of at the end of this month was given the national spotlight in a prime-time commercial slot! Was it the civic failure saga of the “Ghost Train to Nowhere” being highlighted to the entire country, perhaps as a cautionary tale of the dangers of allowing private contractors to ruin public transit projects? No, it couldn’t be, unless I’ve hit the lottery and started running vanity ads like Tom Steyer. Maybe an ad trumpeting the area’s diversity and representation after Brianna Titone became the state’s first transgender lawmaker in a traditionally republican-held district? Not in a million years, like Pats fans need any more hate crime fuel.

It was in fact an advertisement paid for by Ford Motors for Colorado Springs nonprofit SHIELD616 featuring an Arvada Police officer hawking for donations for body armor:

Let’s put aside that Colorado police pulled $21 million just in marijuana tax revenue last year and that Arvada is consistently rated as one of the safest cities in America, seeing just 27 violent crimes for every 100,000 residents in 2017,  or that they are a great example of totally overstocked and overmilitarization in the first place, with quick access to the Jefferson County “BearCat” armored vehicle as well as the assault weapons I see slung around the backs of uniformed officers responding to apparent traffic incidents.

Never mind that the Arvada Police Department, until an officer was hit by a car in 2009, hadn’t experienced an officer fatality since 1961. This is a town that was literally rocked by a crime wave of teenagers breaking windows and grabbing a couple of things just a few months ago, not quite the epicenter of lawlessness and flying bullets that necessitate a $5+ million commercial spot during the most-watched television event in the country.

The Police Department received 20 vest kits in a publicity ceremony last week, quick to hearken on the three officers killed last year but conveniently neglecting to point out the rampage Colorado law enforcement has been on in the early months of 2019. As of March 5th, there have been 19 officer-involved woundings and 9 fatalities, including an incident where a man was killed and a woman was wounded after police and federal marshals opened fire on a vehicle with two toddlers in it attempting to arrest the man on a probation violation. Several other officer-involved shootings involved incidents in which the police reported being allegedly hit by suspect’s cars, which is an awfully remarkable coincidence for six of those altercations, and something that the Denver Police Department had to revise policy over after paying nearly $1 million to the family of Jessie Hernandez in 2017, a teen shot to death by police while sitting in an allegedly stolen vehicle with several other children in 2015.

It seems a little odd that the officers reporting that they were struck by fleeing vehicles didn’t need to be hospitalized, and that by claiming they were struck, were able to completely usurp a citizen’s right to due process and execute the alleged suspects, especially since the largest city in Colorado changed policy regarding shooting at fleeing vehicles. A lot more cops seem to be “hit” by vehicles these days as a correlation. An interesting connection is also the relentless pursuit of charges against a man recently acquitted of killing Colorado State Patrol Trooper Cory Donahue after two mistrials in two-and-a-half years. Once again, Colorado law enforcement have positioned themselves as vindictive against the public and reinforced an us-vs-them mentality against a man who by most sane accounts was involved in a highway accident. Continue reading →

Huge Pay Disparities Mean Denver Public Schools Should Strike, Too

As the first teacher’s strike in 30 years kicks off in LA today, Denver Public Schools looks poised to strike as well if a deal isn’t reached by this Saturday after narrowly avoiding a strike last year. Like most teachers around the country, most cannot afford to live in the districts they teach in and one in five DPS teachers work a second job. Long-standing issues in funding, particularly in regards to property taxes, mean school funding and teacher pay is an obvious issue of racial discrimination and class warfare.

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Administrative and executive salary documents

District salary documents circulating on Facebook detail a massive pay disparity between the average DPS teacher and administrative officials. While a first-year teacher makes less than $45,000 a year, a rate the union is fighting to increase by up to 10% and with the rapid rising costs of living in Denver amounting to basically an inflationary wage raise, executive directors are pulling nearly a quarter-million dollar salary. Anyone that has ever worked within a school system could tell you the teachers are being hosed. The distribution of labor between even a school principal, making upwards of $85,000 per year, and that of a teacher is astronomical: pouring through the documents, DPS has one administrator to manage every 7.5 teachers, yet one teacher for every 40 students. Couple that with the fact that teachers pay hundreds of dollars per year to supply their own classrooms, work countless hours of unpaid over-time grading papers and preparing lesson plans, and without a doubt spend the most time educating and supervising children, it’s no wonder DPS teachers are ready to form picket lines.

Despite initial record profits and promises that the legalization of marijuana would provide an influx of funding for school districts across the state, that is largely not the case. Construction projects (notoriously nebulous processes) and programs like substance abuse prevention or adding counselors are funded through grant programs from marijuana sales taxes, however, teacher’s salaries aren’t addressed because the grants are not a consistent source of budgetary income for the schools and districts. While voters in Colorado likely had issues like this in mind when voting to pass Amendment 64, the nuts and bolts of the funding limitations mean teachers, one of the last widespread unionized professions in this country not connected to health care or law enforcement, get the shaft. Continue reading →

An Autopsy of the Denver Bronco’s 2018 Season

Roughly three years ago, you probably could have floated a ballot initiative in Colorado about renaming Denver International Airport after John Elway. After wining the Superbowl with a crippled Peyton Manning and one of the most historically lethal defenses ever seen in the NFL, Elway was riding high, going on to sign long-term deals for Von Miller, maybe the best pass-rusher since Lawrence Taylor, and Emmanuel Sanders, the league’s most underrated and consistently productive wide receiver.

That goodwill is long, long squandered.

Today, Elway finds himself without a head coach, having fired Vance Joseph after months of presumptive anticipation. There was some speculation last night, after losing to division rivals the LA (SAN DIEGO) Chargers by a score of 23-9, that because Joseph was allowed to speak to the press and state that he wanted to return next year to “make things right,” that Elway might hold off on his termination after all. The logic behind this is actually pretty sound and definitely what was parroted by a lot of people last year after calls for heads to roll went unheeded: it’s very difficult to attract coaching talent to a franchise if the GM could throw you out after a single losing season. Nobody wants to relocate their family, teach their playbook, and develop a staff if you’re a few bad games away from the chopping block without being given any real time to gel within a franchise.

That said, Joseph was proven to be absolutely abysmal at clock management, timeout strategics, and calling for challenges. Basic game management skills eluded him and penalty flags were called constantly based on his ineptitude. Vance, despite being a basically affable guy, well liked in the locker room, that seemed willing enough to take risks and had a playbook that seemed to work for a Broncos team shedding veterans and rudderless without a stable quarterback situation into at least losing games by a closer margin that the blowouts of 2017. After a short winning streak, it even looked like he might have locked down the job for next year, but then they lose to both of the Bay Area’s sorry offerings and shut down by Phillip Rivers, villainized by Bronco fans everywhere. Vance had to go. It’s the third non-interim head coach in eight years, but he had to go. That’s not great for any franchise.

Continue reading →

Longmont’s Village Idiot, Henry McNevin

Colorado is a “purple state”, so the myth goes, and every so often, our local media is forced to cover our state’s rube eccentrics, our “colorful” bootlickers, our Lost Cause Sons of the Confederacy racists and what their idiot views are despite time and demographic shifts rapidly diminishing any political capital any of these jackasses once had. The purple state is a myth, lip-service to slack-jawed bigots choosing to live out in the middle of nowhere playing farmer and pretending they’re the backbone of America as corporate agribusiness reduces their role in the economy to hobbyists spending their days riding a tractor they aren’t even allowed to fix themselves. They’re nothing but bumpkin cosplayers living off government subsidies while complaining about the “inner cities” that generate the revenue that enables them to live their “authentic, real American” lifestyle while they enjoy getting jerked off by district politicians that inflate their voting power due to gerrymandering, working as intended to keep the rest of the country held hostage by these backwards, salt-of-the-earth shitheads waiting around for fracking company to buy out their farm. When the skoal comes around to bite them in the ass with mouth cancer, I’ll dance on their graves and spit in the faces of their widows that didn’t nip their fascist talk radio habit in the bud forty years ago.

Henry McNevin, 84, of Longmont, CO (home to the World’s Largest Stickerball but slowly being taken over by craft breweries) is one such character. McNevin made the news last week in the midst of the Supreme Court confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh, putting a sign in his yard that said the judge had been gang-raped by Democrats, riling up sane members of the town on Nextdoor. This isn’t the first time McNevin has generated controversy, two years ago he put up a grammatically-challenged sign directed towards Muslims before having to take it down after some local heroes allegedly threatened to demonstrate in front of his house and “destroy his property.” Direct action gets the goods, Longmont.

McNevin is a waste of flesh and a hatemonger, spending his twilight years pissing people off through A-Frames because his way of life is essentially pointless in the modern era, his views abhorrent in a time when his neighbors and the rest of us wait out his generation’s death in a hope it isn’t too late to reverse course and move towards social progress. He’s an old troll, throwing out baseless accusations to see his name in the paper in an effort to validate his relevancy, and the media falls for it because we live in a time of sensationalism that uses outrage to generate ad revenue. Hiding behind the shield of the First Amendment, this sad old man’s dying gasps about people he’s likely never met or the fellatio of powerful men that don’t give a rat’s ass about him are more pathetic examples of this country’s worst elements stating things they “can say” when the reality is they probably should keep it to themselves. Googling him yields nothing of substance apart from his signs, likely destined for the garbage dump or a re-purposing for another flash-in-the-pan political sentiment. He will be remembered for nothing but ignorance, racism, and hyperbole.

Unless we act now.

For between $300-$700, the community of Colorado could erect its own sign, with its own baseless accusation that Henry McNevin routinely drugs and forces livestock to have sex with him. I’m frankly tired of seeing the establishment left time and time again take the high road with morons that barely have the common courtesy to get their facts straight. That’s why I’m raising money to fund a billboard in the Denver Metro area in tribute to McNevin’s memory. Please donate today, to pay back Henry for being a shit neighbor that has subjected thousands of people to his trash opinions for years, and to make sure he’s remembered for more than just being a racist and a rape apologist, but also a horse cock connoisseur, a bovine blower, and a pig penetration enthusiast. Let’s let highway commuters everywhere know about Henry’s own assumed predilections, just like he loves to broadcast his views about Islam and Democrats gang-raping Supreme Court Justices.

Henry McNevin of Longmont, Colorado rapes farm animals. Donate Today.

Arvada’s Response to the G-Line Tests Illustrates How Astonishing it is That Anyone Here is Even Able to Put on Pants in the Morning

Without a doubt, and it has been said before, my favorite ax to grind is Colorado’s Regional Transport District. Seemingly resolute in their determination to prove that contracting out what should be a public utility to the lowest bidders actually undermines the lauded efficiencies of capitalism, they almost stand in direct defiance of America’s predominant worldview. It’s a case study as to why certain industries should never be run as a profit-motivated business.

It’s like a satire of a transit agency. Their trains are better vessels to commit suicide with than commute to work in. I’ve met heroin addicts more punctual than the overworked and underpaid operators and the construction and opening of new lines goes about as smoothly as rubbing your cock on a belt sander. It’s trash. It’s for the birds. Their board of directors ought to be flayed to ribbons, smoked and cured, and then turned into birdcage liner. A loosely-affiliated network of Romanian gypsy cab dispatchers could replace them with better results, a higher level of customer satisfaction, and less life-threatening stab wounds.

But in regards to the citizenry of Arvada complaining about the long-awaited, infinitely delayed G-Line testing process, for once I’m going to do the unthinkable and defend the absolute bane of my existence. My unyielding, vicious crusade will briefly take a knee to concentrate on the flank of another front, a group so vile I hate them even more than the tax scam artists at RTD: the people of Arvada, Colorado.

If you’ve never lived or worked in Arvada, let me break it down for you: everyone here is either 91 years-old with completely nothing to do or 12 and-a-half with completely nothing to do. They roll up the sidewalks at about ten at night, making the only people still awake in town cops looking for the seventeen drunk white supremacists driving around after hanging out at a strip-mall dive bar that is named after the shopping center it’s nestled into. There are no jobs outside of short-lived retail stores run by former stay-at-home moms needing a pet project, the corporate service industry (or smaller restaurants barely fighting off their seventh sexual harassment lawsuit), or wiping the shit out of the asses of the generation that ruined this country (but somehow still own every rental property in the metro area not gobbled up by some Air B&B Techbro from Riverside, CA or scummy housing flipper) in the various retirement and nursing homes that dot the post-farming community landscape. Any quaint charm said farming industry might have had is disintegrated by the view of four starving, token horses the property owner keeps alive while he waits for a development company to buy him out and build a new gaudy subdivision with substandard building materials. If you’re a licensed EMT, you can work for one of the 30 private urgent care facilities, where you drive an ambulance around town annoying everybody while you cart out the aged dead at rates unseen since the Black Plague. Continue reading →