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Adept NCAA brackets can win you money in an office pool, respect among your friends or…political capital. At least, that’s the thoughts of some observers.

Last year, the candidates for U.S. Senate sniped at each other over their bracket choices. And this year, there’s no shortage of coverage on President Barack Obama’s NCAA picks. Some outlets have questioned the President’s choices (too safe–he has the number one seeds in the final four). Others have dug for political meaning (where does he rank schools from 2012 battleground states?). And other outlets have said there’s too much happening in the world for the President to bother with college basketball (we could say the same about some news outlets).

The best coverage, though, comes from the Awl, which parses Mr. Obama’s choices on politics and stats, then compares his picks to the national averages.

This is good news for Councilman Dan Johnson and the other Louisvillians trying to bring an NBA team to town.

The Sacramento Kings are no longer ruling out leaving their home city (and the house that Vlade built). A report from the city’s ABC affiliate says the team’s owners “are looking at all options to ensure the long term viability of this franchise.” The quote was in response to rumors that the Kings may move to Anaheim, but Seattle and Louisville are also mentioned as possible relocation spots. Louisville’s ability to attract the Kings is unknown at this point, but when rumors that the team wanted to leave Sacramento first picked up, a Facebook group was established to lobby for the team to comet o Derby City.

Everyone is talking about a Facebook group urging the Sacramento Kings NBA team to move to Louisville, and to make the Yum Center their new home.

With Cousins, Evans and Garcia, the Kings may be Kentucky’s favorite NBA team, but U of L currently has scheduling priority in the new arena, so an NBA franchise may have difficulty sharing the space.

And while an NBA team might add some pizazz to Derby City, sports aren’t the revenue boosters they’re made out to be.

 

Pledge drive is over (thank you!), and here are two things you may have missed in all the excitement.

Huffington Post editor-in-chief Arianna Huffington spoke at the Kentucky Author Forum, and we have the audio.

The Nothing But Net podcast has returned. Get your college basketball fix delivered directly to your ears.

I imagine that somewhere, tonight, a few people will have nightmares wherein they must describe their sexual history in detail under threat of perjury. (If this is a Woody Allen joke, let me know. If not, does anyone have his address?)

The C-J’s Eric Crawford‘s latest column deals with Rick Pitino‘s real-life version of this bad dream. The coach took the stand this week to testify about his encounter with Karen Sypher. The details were lurid and, sometimes, amusing. Crawford acknowledges this, but says it isn’t entirely a laughing matter.

It’s hard not to revert to Beavis and Butthead mode when you’re sitting in the courtroom and Pitino begins to point out, on a screen, where he was in relation to Sypher on the night of their encounter in Porcini restaurant, creating lines on a diagram of the bar like Jay Bilas drawing up a pick-and-roll on the Telestrator.

But it is not a game, no matter how much you reduce the thing to its most lurid details. Behind the titters and the Twitters are lives, including those of some young people, and an entire community that doesn’t deserve this ride on the Too Much Information Express — no matter how entertaining it is to some.

For a moment on Thursday, after some contentious exchanges with defense attorney James Earhart, that became evident even with Pitino. Near the end of the cross-examination, Rick Pitino looked not like a polished witness but like a man who knew the price he was paying.

He knew the hits were coming and appeared to accept them once he decided to press the legal issue. In fact, when I look back at the past two days, I can’t escape the question: Would Sypher going public with her rape and abortion story — as it is alleged she was threatening to do — have been worse than this?

[edit]

And when you think about the painfully personal testimony, the invasive questioning he experienced, and then think about the price he paid with his family, his teenage daughter opening the door of their home to find a tabloid reporter asking if her parents’ marriage was “a sham” last year, you realize that a few wise cracks may be the least of the hits Rick Pitino takes.

What are your thoughts? Have you been following the testimony and the details?

USA Today has named Louisville’s Slugger Field one of the ten “great places for a baseball pilgrimage.”

Built on the banks of the Ohio River, this home to the Triple-A Louisville Bats is fronted by a restored 19th-century rail depot that serves as its main entrance and incorporates shops and restaurants. “Depending on where you sit, you can glimpse the downtown skyline or the cantilevered bridge that spans the river to Indiana,” Knight says. Perks include a children’s play area in right field and a continuous concourse that surrounds the field.

The mayor’s office released a statement about the honor, too.

“There is no better place in America to watch baseball than Slugger Field,” Abramson said. “The architecture and the views are beautiful – and it’s a great family atmosphere for sports fans and non-sports fans alike.”

The Onion News Network has this story about the University of Kentucky’s newest basketball star.

Every two years, NPR gets complaints about Olympics reporting. Listeners don’t like hearing the results of events that occur in the middle of the day, but aren’t broadcast until prime time.

Ombudsman Alicia Shepard weighs in on that on her blog:

It is NPR’s job to report the news. And it is NPR policy to treat sports like any other new story by reporting it as it happens.

“NPR is a news organization,” says NPR’s Deputy Managing Editor Stuart Seidel. “We do not hold off on announcing the news to conform to television scheduling.”

Before announcing the results of the Men’s Downhill on All Things Considered Monday, host Melissa Block did, in fact, warn listeners with a “spoiler alert.”

[edit]

Seidel said NPR does not routinely provide spoiler alerts. “It is, however, the practice of our Newscast writers to include a line or two of copy at the beginning of a report about major sports events to give listeners an opportunity to divert their attention during the upcoming report on results,” he said.

Some hosts or reporters will warn the listener more subtly by stating something like: “And a quick update from the Winter Olympics…” as Weekend All Things Considered host Guy Raz did Sunday.

It’s interesting. To the public, sports are entertainment, elevated to such a level of interest to be news. How do you propose outlets balance their duty to report news with audience expectations of unspoiled sports watching?

Maybe that’s the idea they had at Papa John’s central when they were brainstorming the new Super Bowl ad.

The Super Bowl is a big pizza delivery day, but rather than advertise before the game–like Pizza Hut will–Louisville-based Papa Johns will run a documentary-style ad two minutes into the game. And it apparently won’t look like a regular ad.

From the New York Times

The spot, scheduled to appear near the two-minute warning of the first half, will feature John Schnatter, the company’s founder, delivering pizzas to the people behind the scenes at Super Bowl XLIV on Feb. 7 — the on-field line painters, for example.

The commercial will be filmed on Sunday during the Pro Bowl by NFL Films for that in-the-game look. Because the Super Bowl will be played in the same venue as the Pro Bowl, when the commercial appears during the Super Bowl it may seem as if it is taking place live.

That may not look like a the other Super Bowl ads, but don’t all the recent Papa John’s ads follow Schnatter as he delivers pizza to unsuspecting customers? Has anyone ever ordered and had Schnatter come to the door with cameras? They’re created by the Zimmerman Advertising of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

The Infield Club will return for the 2010 Kentucky Derby.

From The Ville Voice:

  • A new Infield Club VIP Lounge. The VIP Lounge will be a reserved-seating area that features cocktail service, half-priced menu items, four elevated jumbo television screens, plasma monitors located at every table station, eight private betting windows and executive restrooms;
  • One seat for every ticket sold. The number of tickets sold will match the number of seats available compared to last year when seating was only available to approximately 20 percent of the customers who purchased access to the Infield Club. First-come, first-served seating options will include large and cabaret tables with chairs, high-top tables with barstools, stadium-style seating, bleachers and picnic tables;
  • 32,000-square feet of tented areas. The additional tented structures within the Infield Club will be a 50 percent increase in covered area from 2009;
  • 12 jumbo television screens with enhanced resolution and surround-sound audio. Customers will be able to watch the day’s racing action from a dozen elevated jumbo televisions with enhanced resolution, view points and surround-sound audio of track commentary, race calls and music. In 2009, there were only two jumbo televisions; and
  • Five bar locations. Patrons won’t have to travel far for mint juleps and other beverages with five full-service convenient bar locations through the complex.

It’s a few hundred dollars to get in. Did anyone go to the Infield Club last year? How was it? If you go this year, make sure to wave at me, I’ll be in the press box.

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