Billy Packer hater that I am, I’m remiss in not blogging about the latest Packergate controversy. During an interview last Friday with PBS’s Charlie Rose, Packer accused Rose of “fagging out.” Here’s the clip:
The condemnations came fast and furious. Mjd wrote, “If you’re broadcasting the Final Four, and you’re the voice that accompanies the most watched college basketball game of the year, and you’ve been doing this for 33 years … I don’t think it’s asking much to keep the word ‘fag’ out of your mouth in public.” Deadspin mused, “If Packer really didn’t understand the term he was using, it’s probably not wise to allow a guy like that on television at all.” Sportable chimed in, “ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hard to call Packer racist, homophobic, or sexist because itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s obvious that Packer hates everyone on Earth. … In other news, Tim Hardaway has announced that heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d love to assume Jim NantzÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s duties alongside Packer during next yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s NCAA Tournament.” Bloggers all over the college basketball blogosphere eagerly called for Packer’s firing.
I detest homophobia, and if a broadcaster went on the air and used the word “fag” as a homophobic slur, I’d find it offensive.
But that’s not what Billy Packer did. The word “fag” has multiple meanings, and when Packer told Charlie Rose, “you always fag out,” he wasn’t using the word as a homophobic slur. He was using it…to mean “exhaust or tire out.”
Ugh…okay. Here’s the thing….Yes, I understand what the term “fagging out” means. I get it….you tire out….like a cigarette burning out….fag is a British slang for cigarette. I get all of that. But why be that insensitive and use the phrase? It’s just so idiotic and ignorant to not pay attention to what you’re saying.
A Brazil nut was once known as a “N****r Toe”. Do we still call it that? Of course not….it’s an inflammatory term, and has no business in our dialect.
The Human Rights Campaign, a prominent gay-rights group, unsurprisingly agrees: “[E]very time someone uses the F Word, gay kids in high school die a little bit on the inside. … Billy Packer and the CBS Network should know better and must apologize for the hurt that this kind of remark causes.”
LeslieAnne Wade, vice president of communications for Sports, told Outsports, “I know he wasn’t meaning to be insensitive at all.” But she added, “While it is a term that is in the dictionary, it was still a poor choice of words. I’m confident that he would agree that it was a bad choice of words.”
Ms. Wade’s confidence, it turns out, was misplaced. On Thursday, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported:
CBS college basketball analyst Billy Packer said he wasn’t being insensitive or homophobic when he made a comment while being interviewed Friday from Atlanta on The Charlie Rose Show, which airs on PBS. …
“I said he fagged out on me and it had nothing to do with sexual connotation,” Packer said yesterday in a phone interview. “I got to know Charlie a number of years ago and have great admiration for his program and intellect. He is a big Dukie, and he has been talking a number of years about coming to the Final Four to be a runner.”
Dictionary.com defines fag out as meaning “to tire or weary by labor; exhaust.”
Which is what Packer said he meant.
“The term has nothing to do with sexuality,” Packer said. “I think he is the most eligible bachelor. It’s about a guy too lazy to get the work.” …
What Packer is probably most guilty of is being out of touch, which isn’t the first time this charge has been leveled. In 1996 he referred to then-Georgetown point guard (now former 76er) Allen Iverson as a “tough monkey.” Packer himself said he is not a politically correct person. …
And despite this latest controversy, he insists that he did nothing wrong. Packer said the expression comes out of the word fatigue.
“I can assure you I will use that phrase again and I won’t think twice about it,” he said. “My meaning is genuine.”
That last remark had even some of Packer’s defenders, like the above-quoted Michael David Smith, backtracking:
I initially defended Packer, but I have a harder time doing that now. Packer’s defiance runs in stark contrast to what a CBS spokeswoman said (”I’m confident that he would agree that it was a bad choice of words.”) And by saying he has great respect for Charlie Rose, is he implying that he would feel free to call someone a “fag” if he didn’t have great respect for him?
And Packer’s critics are even more up in arms: “No Billy your meaning was/is not genuine. If your meaning was genuine you would have either A) Not used a derogatory word no matter what the connotation was. B) Apologized if there was confusion/harm, and explained the true meaning of the term.”
So, where do I come down on all this? I’m of at least two minds on it… possibly three or four. On the one hand, I’m a strong believer in gay rights and a strong opponent of discrimination and bigotry, and as such, I have no love for people who use the word “fag” offensively. On the other hand, I’m also a strong opponent of political correctness run amok, and as such, I hate it when people get in trouble for such non-offenses as saying the word “niggardly” or using the expression “to call a spade a spade,” where there is absolutely no racist intent on the part of the speaker, nor any actual offensive content to the words spoken, only a misunderstanding whereby the listener believes — incorrectly — that something offensive has been said.
On the other other hand, isn’t there a point where it would be wiser to stop using an antiquated colloquialism that’s uncomfortably similar to a far more commonly used slur? It’s different when we’re talking about an actual word, like “niggardly,” or an expression that’s commonly used, like “call a spade a spade.” But does it make any sense to resurrect an outdated expression that nobody even uses any more, just as a matter of anti-PC principle, when it would be easier and less painful to just let it die?
On top of all that, and ultimately eclipsing all principled arguments, is the fact that I hate Billy Packer. Hate, hate, hate. I think he is a blight on the landscape of college basketball, and even if I thought he was getting in trouble for no good reason, the most I would do is shed a single tear for him while playing the CBS Sports theme song on the world’s smallest violin. There are about a thousand reasons why Billy Packer should have been fired long ago, so really, I would love to see him fired for this, whether that’s technically justifiable or not, just because it would mean he’d be gone — good riddance! — and replaced by a Final Four analyst who, you know, doesn’t suck. As a Deadspin commenter, quoted by Charles Rich, aptly put it: “Firing Billy Packer for a very un-PC statement is like putting Al Capone behind bars for tax evasion. Not the worst thing he’s ever done but we’ll take it!”
“If Billy Packer played in my day, I would bust his ass. It would be a massacre.” –North Carolina’s Reyshawn Terry. Heh.
In a season where the Missouri Valley Conference beat up on each other, the bottom four teams (Illinois State, Indiana State, Evansville and Drake) all fired or forced out their head coaches. I’m going to look at each one after the jump and if they have a replacement, at them as well.
Well, what an exciting four days of basketball under the Arch. I saw some awesome games, a blowout or two and the fact that Missouri Valley Conference basketball is VERY popular.
The MVC destroyed their own attendance record by 20,000 tickets with 85,000+ going to the games over four days, including sellouts on Saturday and Sunday. Southern Illinois had the most fans there, as they are just a two-hour drive from St. Louis. As usual, after Friday, they came out in full force and almost all of the single-game seats in the upper deck were wearing maroon.
The championship game was entertaining as Creighton in the 2nd half came out and smacked SIU right in the mouth, going on a 10-0 run to start the half. SIU finally calmed down and got back to within one or so, but Creighton went on another little run and won the game 67-61 to punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament. They were probably in anyway, but got the auto bid.
The loss for SIU will hurt their seed. Many wondered if they would have been a 2 seed had they won, but now I think they will drop to a 4 seed. Creighton improved to around a 7 or an 8 probably. Hopefully a 7, stay out of that 8/9 plays the 1 seed in the 2nd round, please.
Missouri State and Bradley now go into sweat-it-out mode and hope that the favorites win and the pretenders lose. The more teams that force the top teams to take bubble spots means they drop closer to out. Bradley is probably out anyway but Missouri State is right on the line. Two years of a burst bubble will make a lot of angry people in Springfield, Mo. They already expect an NCAA bid every year and despite 20-win seasons, they will start to put pressure on their coach, Barry Hinson.
Speaking of coaches, two Valley schools already have coaching openings as Indiana State’s Royce Waltman was fired and Evansville’s Steve Merefield resigned (though he was going to be fired anyway) and Illinois State’s Porter Moser has a lot of rumors swirling around him.
I’d like to thank Brendan for letting me do this, it was fun and next year I promise to remember my camera at least one day out of four. Hopefully all of you enjoyed following along with me from Arch Madness. Go Valley!
P.S. After the jump, a look at the final bracket, courtesy of The Mid-Majority.
What an awesome atmosphere for the first semifinal at the MVC tournament. The game was sold out at 22,000 strong and they announced that it was the largest crowd to ever watch a college basketball game at that arena. That includes Illinois/Missouri which plays there every year.
So in game one, top seed SIU held on to beat fourth seeded Bradley in a fantastic game. Bradley led for most of the game before SIU gained the lead late. SIU’s Matt Shaw had a rebound tip in with 3.2 seconds to give them the lead. Unlike the day before when BU hit a 3 pt shot at the horn to win, BU missed a three this time at the buzzer and SIU moves on to the final.
In game two, Creighton gained control early over Missouri State, before Missouri State crawled back into it at halftime. In the 2nd half, Creighton controlled and rolled to an easy win. Creighton’s Nate Funk had 33 points in the game. He’s an amazing player.
So today’s final is #1 vs #2. MO State is firmly on the bubble and may be looking at the NIT again. I think had they beat Creighton they would have been in, but we shall see. We don’t need for someone like Ohio St or Wisconsin or someone like that to lose in their tournaments. I want all the big conference top seeds to take the auto bids.
Wow, what a long day of hoops. Four games over 10 hours. And you can’t eat or drink anything because you have to take a loan out to do it!
In game one, top seed Southern Illinois took care of Drake 71-59 in game that was closer than that. SIU took a 12 point lead with about 12 minutes left and took out starters. That let Drake back into the game and they cut the lead to about 5 or so when SIU had to throw their starters back in to keep the lead. On a side note, SIU has the hottest dance line out of any of the Valley teams. Wow.
Read about the other three games after the jump.
Well day one is in the books of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament and it was quite the night of games.
In game one #9 Drake upset #8 Evansville 101-96 in OT in a high scoring affair. I didn’t get there until the 2nd half, but this was a crazy back and forth game. Drake had a 7 point lead with about 2 minutes left and let Evansville back in before winning in overtime. Drake hit a tournament record 15 three’s en route to the highest scoring game since the tournament moved to St. Louis.
In game two, #10 seed Indiana State upset #7 seed Illinois State 68-65 in a game in which Illinois State led by 12 with nine minutes left and and lost. Illinois State went about seven minutes without a field goal and let Indiana State crawl back into it. This loss puts a lot of pressure on the Redbird Athletic Director has our coach is on a very hot seat and may not return next season. Ran into may upset Redbird fans around the town.
Preview of today’s games after the jump.
After watching Winthrop dismantle a good Missouri State team on its home court, 77-66, let me just say this:
If the Eagles get tripped up in the Big South tournament, and they get passed over by the NCAA selection committee in favor of some big-conference mediocrity like Florida State, Georgia Tech or Illinois, it’ll be shame… a damn shame.
Winthrop is good, and if they go undefeated in conference play — with their only regular-season losses being road games, all but one of them close, against North Carolina, Wisconsin (in overtime), Texas A&M and Maryland — they deserve an opportunity to prove themselves in the Big Dance. And the nation deserves a chance to watch them try.
Speaking of which, this 5-minute excerpt of the conversation between Andy Glockner and Joe Lunardi on yesterday’s edition of the ESPN College Basketball Insider podcast expresses my feelings on the perennial major vs. mid-major selection debate perfectly:
Previously undefeated and #8-ranked Wichita State of the Missouri Valley Conference was stunned by New Mexico in a Las Vegas Classic semifinal Friday.
In the other semifinal, USC lost to Kansas State. This means the Trojans will face the Shockers — the angry Shockers — in the third-place game tomorrow. Not good.
Also tomorrow: a preview of the BCS National Championship Game, except in the wrong sport, as #3 Ohio State visits #5 Florida. The game is at 4pm on CBS. Michigan is very upset that they weren’t invited to play :) but will instead have to settle for challening #1 UCLA at 2:00 PM, also on CBS.
First it was Missouri Valley Conference afterthought Indiana State stunning #14 Butler, the first loss of the season for a Bulldogs team that has beaten Notre Dame, Indiana, Tennessee, Gonzaga and Purdue. Now, a week later, another MVC afterthought has joined the party. Drake overwhelmed Iowa, 75-59 on Saturday, ending a 27-game losing streak to its in-state rival. Granted, the Hawkeyes are 5-6, but as the Valley Ledger says, “anytime you beat a Big 10 team with ease, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not a bad thing.” The Ledger has gone so far as to rank Drake, which finished 5-13 in conference play last season, fifth in the MVC pecking order — ahead of Northern Iowa, which went to the Big Dance last year, and Creighton, which just barely (and unjustly) missed out. (Iowa, incidentally, is 0-2 against MVC competition, having also fallen — albeit in a close game — to its other in-state rival from the Valley, Northern Iowa.)
It’s clear that the MVC is quite good, again, this year. (Though, alas, Southern Illinois didn’t help the case by losing to Indiana yesterday.) The big question is, how good are they, and in particular, how good is Wichita State? The Shockers — who hung 102 points on hapless Maryland-Eastern Shore yesterday — are 8-0 and ranked #8 in the AP poll. But are they a legit Top 10 team? Ken Pomeroy takes a fair & balanced look at that question.
One thing I certainly agree with Pomeroy about is this statement: “We know the MVC shouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be held to mid-major status anymore, but as long we are beholden to Nantz and Packer on Selection Sunday, that will be the perception.” Heh.
Oh, and speaking of teams that shouldn’t be considered mid-majors anymore, I neglected to mention that Gonzaga on Saturday suffered its worst loss of the season, a 96-83 shallacking at the hands of unranked Georgia. As I wrote in comments on a previous post:
I’ve watched a bunch of [Gonzaga] games this year, and they’ve been inconsistent. When they’re on, they’re great. See: wins over North Carolina, Texas and Washington, all in VERY impressive fashion. But they’ve also laid some eggs, with today’s being BY FAR the biggest. (Butler and Wazzu, both of which are quality teams this year, flat-out beat the Zags… this time, they beat themselves. Where was the effort?)
It’s hard to get a handle on this year’s team. In a lot of ways, they’re better than last year: more balanced, more defense, less standing around looking at Adam Morrison. Derek Raivio is playing much better, Pargo is really coming along, and Heytvelt is a beast. They’ll be even better once Micah Downs gets back. But the inconsistency is concerning.
All three of Gonzaga’s losses have come after big wins. In fact, they’re the very three wins I mentioned above: UNC, Texas and UW. They lost to Butler two days after stunning the then-#2 Tar Heels; they Coug’d it against Wazzu three days after destroying Texas; and they got embarrassed by Georgia seven days after giving rival Washington an almighty beatdown. (The long layoff between games was because of final exams, and that’s been causing a lot of discussion, as the Zags tend to play terribly in their first game after finals. Not that that’s an excuse, of course — all teams have finals — it’s just an annual pattern that’s interesting, and frustrating for Zags fans.)
The good news is, the Zags have tended to play well immediately after a loss, so hopefully that bodes well for the big game against Duke on Thursday at Madison Square Garden. GO ZAGS!!!
P.S. Really, I think the problem is that Gonzaga can’t beat other teams with the nickname “Bulldogs.” First Butler, now Georgia. Heaven help them if they have to play the aforementioned Drake Bulldogs in the Big Dance! ;)
How good is the Missouri Valley Conference in 2006-07? Very good.
P.S. According to Jeff Sagarin’s conference computer ratings, the MVC is currently the third-best conference in the country, behind the ACC and the SEC. And according to his team-by-team ratings, the best team in the country (thru Saturday’s games) is #1 Wichita State, out of the MVC. Who’s #2? Notre Dame! Heh! I love it!
The Virginian-Pilot looks at the question of whether George Mason can become “Gonzaga of the East.”
Well, of course Florida won. Mike Tran said they would, therefore it was bound to happen. :)
Quick, everybody on the bandwagon!
First, two teams in the Sweet 16. Now, a student living at Wal-Mart. The Missouri Valley Conference can’t get enough of the spotlight!