Monday, December 06, 2010

Tigers' TV Trauma

Let national magazines call Memphians poor, fat, and ugly. You can go to the mall and see that for yourself. But there are still things unique to Memphis that we all enjoy. Sure, we have the river, rock and soul music, and the world's best bar-b-que, but we also have the Memphis Tigers. Every basketball season, all of West Tennessee become riveted to their televisions on game nights. For most people, TV is their only access to the team, and the better the season, the higher the spirits of the citizenry. Until recently, the TV coverage was excellent and brought the game to thousands who would otherwise have to depend on the radio and their imaginations. As a result, few cities share a bond with their local university's athletic teams quite like Memphis loves their basketball Tigers.

Memphis' love affair with the Tigers really began in 1957, when tiny Memphis State College lost the National Invitation Tournament to Bradley on national television by just one point. The Commercial Appeal reported on March 25, 1957, that a huge crowd showed up at the airport to greet the returning team, including Elvis Presley, who had a pretty decent year himself. My Tiger loyalties are generational. My dad had season tickets back in the Field House days and I was that little kid under the bucket shagging errant jump shots for the team's pre-game and half-time warm-ups. Suffice it to say that I saw the entire Wilfong family wear the Tiger uniform and I was in attendance at the NCAA finals in St. Louis in 1973. I suffered through the Moe Iba years and celebrated Dana Kirk and the formation of the Metro Conference, the best collection of unaffiliated schools in the nation. Along with that came a hatred of all things Louisville. I hated their team, their fans, their coach, their school, and the color red. But the memorable games at the Mid-South Coliseum were annual gatherings of the rabid faithful to hopefully witness the Cardinals defeated and humbled, and they were as loud as any rock concert.

I had season tickets in the Coliseum and showed up in snow, rain, or iced parking lots, while the team's following throughout the city boomed. When the Coliseum restricted smoking to the concourses, it was necessary to breast-stroke through a fog of grey plumes to get to the concession stand. And the team had so many Jewish supporters, that half-time looked like Rosh Hashanah at the Temple. Almost all the games were televised on local channels, with WKNO offering a replay of every home game at 10:00 PM. I used to drive home from the games and watch Channel 10 to see if I'd missed anything. The team outgrew the Coliseum, but season ticket-holders were assured of preferential seating in the new Pyramid to reward their loyalty. I wasn't among those who got to choose their seats, but I was certain my assigned tickets would be satisfactory. Imagine my surprise when I found myself sitting parallel to Larry Finch's jersey hanging from the rafters. When I appealed to the university's ticket office, I was told that it would be no problem to improve my seats, only it required an additional $2000 "contribution" to the Athletic Department. I didn't want to pay the extortion, so I gave up my nose-bleed section tickets.

With the move to the FedEx Forum, with its corporate suites and blaring techno-music, I decided the best place to watch a Tiger game was in my living room. Four seasons ago, I invested in the 42 inch, flat-screen television specifically for basketball season and scored extra points by telling my wife that it was a present for her. Say what you will about the Calipari era, but the Memphis games were all televised, either on local or cable networks, and we made an evening of it. Select friends and former disenfranchised season ticket holders came to my house for the games, and Melody put out hors' dourves in our Tiger serving dishes, alongside the Tiger napkins. It's become a tradition. On game night, we all wear Tiger gear and erect a small shrine around the TV with our blue and white pom poms, the stuffed tiger's claw, and the tiger-striped footstool with the tail that I got at Walgreen's. Only now, if it's not a nationally televised game, we're in trouble. While I love everything about the current team and their coach, somebody made a lousy TV deal for the fans that not even High Definition can fix.

The games on the CSS Network come through clearly enough, but in the last game, some computer whiz forgot to throw a switch, and the graphic that shows the score didn't come up until five minutes into the telecast. In addition, the picture distorted and froze throughout the game, although it was not shown in High Def.  When a game is scheduled to be shown on the Sports South Network, however, it's a true reason for despair. It's a lucky thing that Greg Gaston and Hank McDowell are great announcers, because you can barely see the action they are describing. For the second straight season, the network is using some antique camera that would be better suited for a high school game. The resulting picture is so dark that the players' faces are indistinguishable, white boys included, and the jersey numbers are a blur. It appears as if the arena is experiencing a brown-out. When a recent game was televised on a delayed basis, an announcer said, "Because of time constraints, we are moving ahead in the action," and they cut out ten minutes. I understand that Memphis is mired in a mediocre conference with no visible way out, but do you suppose the league could afford to buy a digital camera for its damn network? Or is it possible the Athletic Department that remains solvent only because of the basketball team, might negotiate a better TV package for the fans? Both the team and their loyal supporters deserve better than this. Besides, I really need to see this group of Tigers play, especially since I bet a Barcalounger that they make it to the Elite Eight.


Anonymous said...

Gee, I was hoping for another salacious Tiger Woods story!

Anonymous said...

Hip Hip Hooray for the Tigers, not even the politico blog bashers dare to attack Randy the Tiger Fan.

Hell yes lets consolidate,Pastner, Shelby Co.'s top man, The Mayor if you please. Our young Tigers, just the fresh air we need, make them all commissioners. Now we'll have a home to be proud of, leadership with direction and no cops to wipe up the mess of our present elected bamboozlers.

Great Ceaser's Ghost, jump back Jack.

Go Tigers!

Anonymous said...

Funny, where are all the assholes that bash you all the time. What, can't take a joke,can't have a laugh, too hard to say a kind word for a good writer and a fellow Memphian? Go Tigers and go Randy.Keep us laughing and thinking.

The Anon said...

I agree that Memphis' only redeeming aspects are barbecue and Tiger basketball. If music had not died back in the late 80's, it would be included as well. Randy can be proud of being part of what was once Memphis' music culture. I still say that there are bronze plaques on Beale dedicated to some musicians who did not have as much of an impact on the local music culture as Randy's bands did. Randy and the Radiants should at least be recognized as the top garage band of the past era.

Alan said...

Great Post. It took me back to some happy times. I remember a game at Oxford early in Cal's tenure and the building is similar to the Colosseum. As I walked around all I saw were Jews from the days at the Field House and then the Colosseum.

Soothsayer said...

Fascism is coming to America in the name of national security. What's more is that leftist ideology has been co-opted to serve the interests of the supranational capitalist elites who are ushering in this fascism. And yes, George Bush had a hand in it. And so does Obama. He is a puppet for the for the big government/big business cabal. These capitalist elites are using the left as useful idiots. They will own the world someday. You lefties are digging your own grave. You should wear beanies with propellors as you dig. Keep on digging. I can't wait to see the surprise on your faces when you finally figure out that you have been dupes for the super-capitalists. What a hoot! We should have defended constitutional government, but you progressives neutered it thinking that you could build a better world without it. What a joke.I hope that you will like the coming global gulag. Goodbye freedom. Goodbye private property. Hello slavery, poverty, and oppression. It is a bad trade.

Anonymous said...

Well said Sooth.Here is another thought in a similar vein. What if the democracy we think we are serving no longer exists and the Republic has become the very evil we have been fighting to destroy. This state of affairs is a consequence of the trashing of the Constitution that you mentioned. The coming New World Order will be the global prison planet that Hitler hoped to implement. This is the long term consequence of the fascism that you mentioned. Tighten your chin straps. Tens, or even hundreds of millions will die when the corporate/government bad boys consolidate their power on a global basis (NWO). It will make Hitler's Holocaust seem like a love-in by comparison.

Anonymous said...

"Lenin is widely credited with the prediction that liberals and other weak-minded souls in the West could be relied upon to be useful idiots as far as the Soviet Union was concerned". Lenin may have been evil, but at least he wasn't as stupid as Western liberals are. After they serve their role as useful idiots in bringing the West down, they will be eliminated. They are too weak to be useful in a totalitarian society.

Cousin Cliff said...

Right, left, new world order, Lenin, Hitler. As long as we're veering off thread, it seems like a great opportunity to wish our host a happy birthday and best wishes for a good day. I ordered up a Tiger victory over Austin Peay for your birthday present. Hope you got to see it.

performs said...

liberal defined:
•broad: showing or characterized by broad-mindedness; "a broad political stance"; "generous and broad sympathies"; "a liberal newspaper"; "tolerant of his opponent's opinions"
•having political or social views favoring reform and progress
•tolerant of change; not bound by authoritarianism, orthodoxy, or tradition
•a person who favors a political philosophy of progress and reform and the protection of civil liberties
•big: given or giving freely
free-thinking; magnanimous; humanistic.
I could not locate "weak-minded" or "idiotic" among definitions. Lenin may wish to rethink his use of the term.
Happy birthday, Brother Randy!

Anonymous said...

Performs, you are giving the idealized definition of the term 'liberal'. There is also an idealized definition of the term 'conservative' that makes it appear that they are all heroes. The same can be said for Marxists and even totalitarians. Totalitarians actually believe that they hold the best vision for the world's future. Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, etc. didn't consider themselves to be evil. The mass murders of their respective regimes were just seen as unavoidable collateral damage which accompanied the setting up the utopia that each of them envisioned. Wise up.

Anonymous said...

Randy must be somewhere around 64. He will be on Medicare before Obamacare is ushered in. The timing is bad. He will enter Medicare after it has been gutted by half a trillion dollars and after tens of millions of new patients will be dumped into it. If he needs open heart surgery or any other expensive procedure, he may be dismayed to find that the Obamacare rationing panel will deny him life saving surgery. Too expensive for the useless elderly. The money is more profitably spent on the young and productive. It is considered tacky to call them 'death panels' rather than rationing panels. The question is what is the difference? If you are rationed out of life saving medical care, then for you it will be a death panel. Bad timing indeed. We can look forward to our new government health care system being run as efficiently as our schools, the post office, and every other dysfunctional thing that the government runs. I hate to think of the waiting lines for health care. The only thing good about getting older is that hopefully we will die before the nightmare of a fuuly socialized America swings into high gear. I pity the young.

performs said...

Anonymous 11:54, I think you understand that there exists ideals that are liberal and conservative in nature, and one can strive heroically to reach for these ideals. A healthy society requires both attitudes for making good choices. On the other hand, one can also succumb to ignorance, perversity, delusional thinking, and insanity in the name of these principles. Another important point is that most people embrace and express a combination of liberal and conservative tendencies in their multifaceted lives.
With this in mind, do you really think it makes any sense to fling around judgments about “liberals” (or “conservatives” ) as if “they” were all the same? Doesn’t this just create conflict, enmity, and rivalry? And what problems have ever been resolved through these?

Anonymous said...

Performs, I agree with you completely on this issue. I have made similar arguments in the past. Very well spoken. I was just making the point that every philosophical position has its defenders, even the totalitarians. Truman Capote observed that the most depraved criminals tend to justify and defend their actions no matter the degree of their barbarity. Even Satanists feel justified in what they believe and do. It has something to do with human nature. A person can't persist in regard to whatever he believes or does if he feels that it is wrong. He can't bear the cognitive dissonance, so he goes to whatever extreme to justify himself so that he can live at peace with himself. Ask a Marxist if this is not true.

Anonymous said...

I had a stunning revelation about my dog.He sleeps about 20 hours a day.He has his food prepared for him and he can eat whatever he wants, 24/7/365.His meals are provided at no cost to him.He visits the doctor once a year for his check-up, and throughout the year if any medical needs arise. For this he pays nothing, and nothing is required of him. He lives in a nice neighborhood in a house that is much larger than he needs, but he is not required to do any upkeep. If he makes a mess, someone else cleans it up. He has his choice of luxurious places to sleep and he receives these accomodations absolutely free. He is living like a king, and has absolutely no expenses whatever. All of his costs are picked up by others who go out and earn a living every day. I was just thinking about all of this, and suddenly it hit me like a brick in the dog is a Democrat. I am taking his worthless ass to be euthanized tomorrow.