Welcome to the first edition of the Saturday Reader. In this weekly column, I will link to and briefly discuss some of the best stories I have read over the past week. There is no set format for this column. The only requirement is that the stories have to be something I have read and enjoyed and would like others to make sure they read.
The stories mentioned in this column will often be at sites that require a subscription. You don’t have to subscribe to these websites but I highly recommend it. I much prefer paying a subscription to a website rather than deal with advertising that gets in the way so those are the sites on which I spend most of my time.
In this first edition of the Saturday Reader, three of the five stories have a local connection. All five are really interesting.
I love reading The Athletic so a lot of the stories in this weekly column could come from there. Four of the five today are from The Athletic. It does require a subscription and it is well worth it as far as I’m concerned. Ultimately, I don’t care which site publishes the stories. I just want to highlight the stories I like and think you might as well.
Having said all of that, let’s get started…
The Athletic selected Kansas City’s own Kevin Harlan as its sports broadcaster of the year in 2019. Richard Deitsch wore about him on December 23. Harlan’s schedule in the fall is ridiculous with an NBA game for Turner Broadcasting on Thursday, an NFL game for CBS on Sunday and an NFL game for Westwood One on Monday night. He’s a true professional with his preparation and somehow with everything going on, he finds time to do radio interviews, some of which we are blessed to have locally on 810AM.
Harlan will be calling his tenth consecutive Super Bowl in 2020. That’s something nobody has ever done.
You have heard some of this on local radio but Deitsch does a nice job taking you into the crazy schedule of the best play-by-play man in the business in football and basketball.
Kansas played Kentucky in a highly anticipated game in Allen Fieldhouse after the Jayhawks had shocked everyone by winning the preseason NIT with wins over #2 LSU in Baton Rouge and over #25 St. John’s and #1 UNLV in Madison Square Garden in New York.
Kentucky’s Johnathan Davis said that the pregame Rock Chalk chant made the Wildcats think they were in some kind of horror movie and that it “scared the shit out of us.” This game was all offense from the opening tip and Kansas led 80-61 at the half! Kentucky coach Rick Pitino was upset and his communication at halftime made some of his players feel unsafe. Assistant coach Tubby Smith was supposed to meet the team at the game after a recruiting trip but he never made it inside Allen Fieldhouse. He got there at about halftime and listened to some of the game on the radio in his car before deciding he wasn’t going inside.
It wasn’t that Kansas was trying to run up the score. It’s that Kentucky continued to press all game long and the way to beat the press was to attack so that is what Roy Williams had his team do and it worked perfectly. Kentucky’s Henry Thomas said that Allen Fieldhouse was the loudest arena he had ever heard when Kansas went on a run. Kansas’ Mark Randall said he was scared that the noise was going to cause the roof to come off.
This is just part of the story. I was at this game sitting in the front row behind the Kansas bench. It was like no other game I have ever attended. C.J. Moore does a terrific job telling the story of a game two programs will never forget.
Vahe Gregorian wrote a story about the Chiefs and what has made them successful. Patrick Mahomes is, of course, the most important piece of the puzzle. He’s down-to-earth and fits in beautifully with Kansas City. He’s the rare humble superstar. And the Chiefs added Tyrann Mathieu who is another quality person. Mathieu stresses the importance of being a good teammate. Vahe does a nice job explaining how the city of Kansas City has fallen in love with Patrick Mahomes and a Chiefs team capable of winning the Super Bowl.
Richard Deitsch takes us behind the scenes to see how the best NFL television crew prepares for and presents the biggest games each week. Jim Nantz likes Dunkin’ Donuts. Tony Romo warms up his voice by singing U2 songs. Tracy Wolfson only gets limited air time but passes on a lot of information to Nantz and Romo to let them know what to look for on the field based on what she hears on the sideline. The production crew goes crazy following the action.
They seem to get along great and work well together. Nantz’s goal is to have Romo re-sign to continue working together for 15 years. If you are at all interested in how the best NFL television crew operates you should read this.
Bill Shea wrote a piece about bowl sponsorships for The Athletic that was published on Christmas Eve. He pointed out in this piece that annual total spending on bowl game naming rights is around $100 million with the smaller bowls costing around $300,000 while the larger bowls like the Rose Bowl and Orange Bowl cost around $25 million each. Companies sponsor Bowl games for various reasons and they can have a tough time determining whether they got a good return on investment. Give Bill’s story a read if you are at all curious about why companies sponsor bowl games and how they justify spending the amount of money they spend.
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Thanks for reading…