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The Rain in Spain Falls Mainly in Wimbledon

Last Friday I had an ESPN column about Wimbledon’s dress code. Once the column was published, I posted the link to it on Twitter.

About 20 minutes later, someone named Lucas Cayce responded to my tweet by saying, “You know, it’s Wimbledon, not WimbleTon.” For a second I panicked, thinking there’d been a typo in my tweet, or in the headline of the story, or in the text. But I checked all of those, and the spellings were all correct. So I wrote back to him, asking what he was referring to. He said, “No, it’s not a typo. But you’re pronouncing it wrong in your video.”

About two dozen similar comments came in via Twitter and email over the next day or so. Everyone agreed: I’m so fucking stupid, I don’t even know how to pronounce the name of the world’s most prestigious tennis tournament.

And guess what: They’re right.

First, some quick context: I don’t follow pro tennis like I once did, but I watched a lot of televised tennis from about 1975 through 1990. Like, a lot. I think it’s fair to say that I’ve heard the word “Wimbledon” spoken by professional broadcasters many thousands of times. I’ve also typed it countless times, and I certainly know how it’s spelled. In short, it is not an unfamiliar word to me.

But somewhere along the line — I don’t know when or why — I internalized the notion that the last syllable is more “ton” than “don.” That’s how I say it — not with a super-hard “t” sound, but definitely with more of a “t” than a “d.” When I type the word, I even instinctively note that it isn’t spelled the way it sounds — or at least not the way it sounds when I say it.

After being ridiculed for the mispronunciation in my ESPN video, I turned on the TV and watched some Wimbledon coverage. Sure enough: “don.” Oddly, it was like I was hearing it for the first time. How had I not noticed that everyone was pronouncing this word differently than I was? It’s almost like my brain just filled in the last syllable for all these years, making it sound the way I think it’s supposed to sound.

Of course, I’m not the only person who’s ever mispronounced something. In fact, there are certain words that lots of people mispronounce. But “Wimbledon” is my personal glitch, a word that everyone else seems to get right but that I get wrong.

Or at least most other people get it right. Once I started looking, I discovered I’m not alone. Deadspin did a piece on Wimbledon (mis)pronunciation in 2012, and I also found several message board threads devoted to the topic. This one provides a useful mnemonic: “A simpleton says Wimbleton.”

It’s all a bit embarrassing, but other people have their own glitches. Small example: WFAN sports talk radio guy Mike Francesa has the longstanding habit of pronouncing the word “worry” as “werry” (as in “I wouldn’t werry about that” or “The Mets have to be werried about the way Matt Harvey’s been pitching”). He also has a thick New Yawk accent that’s become almost a self-parody, but the “werry” thing is different — it’s not accent-driven and seems to be its own little quirk, distinct from his other spoken mannerisms. Francesa is a successful professional (and, for all his bluster, is a very skilled and nuanced vocalist), and I’m sure he’s been made aware of this odd vocal tic that he has, but for whatever reason he keeps doing it. When he hears other people say, “worry,” does he mistakenly hear it as “werry”? Or, conversely, when he says, “werry,” does he mistakenly hear it coming out of his mouth as “worry”?

(As an aside, Francesa also consistently mispronounces Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner’s surname as “Baumgarner.” That’s particularly interesting because I’m pretty sure that “Baumgarner,” spelled with the “a,” is a more common surname than “Bumgarner.” So it’s almost like Francesa’s mind’s eye is adding the “a” that he thinks should be there, and then he’s pronouncing it the way he thinks it should be spelled.)

But while Francesa seems unwilling or unable to stop saying, “werry,” I’m going to do my best to start pronouncing Wimbledon correctly. Here’s hoping I can do it without needing my own personal Professor Higgins.

Incidentally, I mentioned all of this to the Tugboat Captain, who was in the next room when I recorded that ESPN video. She said, “Oh, yeah, I heard you doing that, and I thought it sounded kinda funny. But I didn’t say anything because I figured, you know, you’re the sportswriter.”

•  •  •  •  •

Drip … drip … drip: Two months ago I wrote about how MLB game recaps often substitute fantasy for reality by reporting the number of tickets sold as the number of people who were actually in the ballpark. A few weeks after that we discussed how the Padres are substituting fantasy for reality by having the national anthem performed by lip synchers instead of real singers.

Now comes word that PBS substituted fantasy for reality two nights ago during its “live” broadcast of Fourth of July fireworks from Washington, DC. It was an overcast night in Washington, which would have made the pyrotechnics spectacle a bit less spectacular, so PBS swapped in some old stock footage and didn’t tell anyone, but viewers in DC figured it out immediately, leading to a shitstorm on social media. (PBS promptly owned up to the bogus footage but made things worse by saying that fudging reality “was the patriotic thing to do” — a breathtakingly cynical excuse for an ethical lapse, and a handy confirmation of Samuel Johnson’s old line about patriotism being the last refuge of a scoundrel.)

Is any of these incidents, taken in isolation, a big deal? Probably not. Taken together, though, they constitute a trend of institutions substituting fantasy for reality. And the trend goes way, way beyond these three examples. About 10 days ago, a surrogate for a presidential candidate referred to fact-checking as an “out of touch, elitist media-type thing,” as if facts and truth were fanciful notions. Meanwhile, studies show an increasing tendency for people to believe in conspiracy theories, to discount scientific evidence that doesn’t suit them, and so on.

As a journalist — someone who works in the information business, the facts business, the truth business — I find all of this extremely disturbing.

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Click to enlarge

Collector’s Corner
By Brinke Guthrie

We have a Collector’s Corner double feature to lead things off! First, you know how much I love vintage NFL poster art, so check this out: a batch of 26 vintage NFL posters from 1968-1972!

And second, I finally found ’em: a big ol’ floppy NFL rain poncho, made out of some poly-nylon-water-resistant who knows what. I had one of these in 1970. The big selling point is the reflective shiny material on the inside, which was meant to reflect your body heat and keep you warm. This set has two league team versions (which I had), and two from the Niners. Been a long time since I’ve seen one of these!

Now for the rest of this week’s stuff:

•  Some great cover art on this selection of older Super Bowl publications.

•  Back in the day, if you were good enough to score runner-up status in the NFL’s Punt, Pass, and Kick contest, they gave you one of these trophies.

•  Check out this Young, Old & Bold NFL Quarterbacks laserdisc, from NFL “DiscoVision.” DiscoVision? The listing says this is from 1969, but they didn’t have laserdiscs back then, right?

•  Check out this retro 1970s NHL K.C. Scouts jersey. Liked that color scheme, and the team name always appealed to me, too.

•  They took some artistic license with the Baltimore Colts helmet on this 1967 National Beer-sponsored schedule.

•  Sticking with 1967, nice cover art on this Rams/Vikings game program. And more terrific cover art on this Eagles media guide. Browns/Eagles, old school.

•  The Fleer Big Sign seller has some more terrific stuff. Here’s a mini-lot of Big Signs/posters for the L.A. Rams 1.0, and a 1969 Fleer 3D L.A. Dodgers hat plaque, still in the package. I never saw these!

•  See what the scouts saw with this 1970s Philadelphia Phillies scouting notebook.

•  Nice graphics on this 1970s NHL lunchbox.

•  Cavs fans, celebrate your NBA title with this 1970s “Cavaliers Cleveland” logo coffee mug.

•  •  •  •  •

Membership update: Several more designs have been added to the membership card gallery (including Willys DeVoll’s early-’70s Knicks treatment, shown at right). We have two slots open in the current sheet, so the next two people to enroll will get their cards fairly quickly.

As always, you can sign up for your own custom-designed membership card here, you can see all the cards we’ve designed so far here, and you can see how we produce the cards here.

• • • • •

The Ticker
By Paul

Baseball News: The Cubs and Reds will wear 1916 throwbacks today at Wrigley (from Steve Hemsath). … Speaking of the Cubs, someone in Chicago has featured Cubs players Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant on a political campaign-style T-shirt (from Brian Crago). … Here’s a Q&A column that addresses MLB’s Father’s Day uniforms and the history of organ music at the ballpark (thanks, Phil). … One of the Cubs’ batboys was missing his helmet logo yesterday (from Doug McBurney). … 1966 championship throwbacks this Friday for the Orioles. Further info here. And the O’s are already wearing this championship-anniversary sleeve patch on their non-throwback jerseys. Here’s a look from last night’s game (from Andrew Cosentino and Phil). … Feline-themed “Caturday” jerseys on tap this weekend for the Lakewood BlueClaws. … One of the many problems with two-in-ones is that the vertical stripes don’t go all the way down into the shoe. That’s because of the pattern used to knit socks — there’s the equivalent of a seam that blocks the continuation of the stripe. Usually, though, the stripe at least goes almost all the way down. Compare that to this — yikes. That’s a player from the North Adams Steeplecats, a collegiate summer league team (from Tris Wykes). … Yesterday’s Ticker mentioned that Mets C Travis d’Arnaud would be giving up his No. 7 for Jose Reyes, but we didn’t yet know what d’Ardnaud’s new number would be. Turns out he’ll wear No. 18 — his third number in less than four seasons with the Mets. Why 18? As a salute to Peyton Manning, of course. … Meanwhile, The New York Daily News’s story on d’Arnaud’s number change begins with the words, “Travis d’Arnaud fans need to update their wardrobe.” What an asinine way to report on a number change. What if you’re a d’Arnaud fan who doesn’t happen to spend money on overpriced polyester shirts? What if you can’t afford jerseys? What if you don’t mind wearing the old number? Consumerist bullshit. … We’ve seen separate shots of the All-Star Game BP caps and jerseys, but I’m not sure we’ve seen them together until now. I like it. … Yesterday was Venezuela’s independence day (man, a whole lot of countries do that in early July, right?), so several MLBers wore Venezuelan flag-patterned shoes, including Victor Martinez (from David Hamen). … Whoa, check out the ball for the home run derby. … The Pirates recently DFA’d C Jacob Stallings, but his replacement, Eric Fryer, is using Stallings’s helmet. … The San Francisco Opera has been trying to expand its audience by staging simulcasts on the big scoreboard at AT&T Park. Key uni-related passage: “Escamillo, Don Jose and a resuscitated Carmen, now wearing Giants caps and jerseys, bowed, as did a large cast of singers, dancers and musicians.” … This article about Mets players venting their frustrations includes an interesting tidbit: The dugout tunnels in Milwaukee and Atlanta are equipped with boxing heavy bags, so frustrated players can punch those instead of taking a bat to the water cooler or whatever.

Pro and College Football News: Good info on how the Saints got their colors. … Someone has chosen to rank the ACC’s uniforms. … Boston College will have separate number-retirement events this fall for Matt Ryan and Luke Kuechly. … New uniforms for New Mexico State (thanks, Phil).

Hockey News: New pads for Canadiens G Carey Price. … Limited-edition prints of Anthony Zych’s fantastic Blue Jackets gameday posters are now available for sale. You know what to do. … The Maple Leafs will announce their centennial season plans tomorrow. … Whoa, check out this 1977 footage showing a Nordiques player wearing a bizarre helmet/mask hybrid.

NBA News: If you’re interested in corporate theater, at least one business observer thinks Kevin Durant’s move to Golden State could be good news for Nike and Under Armour. … A guy in Idaho played a pickup game in a full Michael Jordan uniform, and I do mean full (thanks, Mike). … Looks like the Pelicans will be adding a Bryce Dejean-Jones memorial patch (from Zach). … Dwight Howard, now with the Hawks, is still wearing Rockets shorts during workouts (from Manzell B). … Wait, don’t burn those Kevin Durant jerseys! An Oklahoma City man wants fans to donate their Durant jerseys for local youth organizations. … In a related item, Maeser Anderson whipped up a graphic showing Durant’s uniform history. “If anything, this has made me wish Seattle still had the Sonics!,” he says. … Two of the Heat’s summer league players are wearing caps with personalized messages (thanks, Mike).

Soccer News: New jerseys for KAA Gent (from Ed Å»elaski). … New uniforms for Southampton FC. … New away jersey for Celtic. … The French national team has a communal dinner table with jersey-themed seats. … New away kit for Juventus.

Grab Bag: Contestants at this year’s Nathan’s hot dog eating contest at Coney Island on July 4 wore sports-style jerseys. As you can see in that photo, Joey Chestnut’s uni number honored his world record. “No photo, but Crazy Legs Conti wore the infinity symbol,” says P. Costello. … Another new hot dog eating contest wrinkle in recent years: a separate women’s category. … Here’s the latest article on runner Boris Berian’s dispute with Nike. … American flag patches are being added to prisoners’ uniforms in one Arizona county. … McDonald’s has won a trademark dispute over the use of “Mc” or “Mac” in food/beverage names. .. A Colorado mom is upset because her seven-year-old son’s Cub Scouts group got a visit from a bunch of Hooters waitresses, who appeared in their Hooters uniforms. … Nearly 10 years ago I did an ESPN column about a guy named Bill Jones, the self-styled king of custom-painted gumball helmets. Bill is now turning his attention to Starting Lineup figurines, which he’s custom-painting to honor teams and leagues of the past. He doing lots of different sports — check out his work here and here. … Here’s a look at what’s being described as “Under Armour’s lifestyle sneaker.” UA is a lifestyle brand, so it seems like all of their sneakers would be lifestyle sneakers, but whatever (from Paul Lee). … There’s a bit of a controversy in Columbus, Ohio, over the contract to launder the local sheriff department’s uniforms. … Here’s a really cool infographic of Europe’s many alliances, reimagined as the DC Metro system (big thanks to Andrew Hoenig). … Great Britain is now doing something that Australia’s been doing since 2012: Cigarette package designs must be unbranded. … Dominika Cibulkova, who made it to the Wimbledon quarterfinals, can tell which tournament a tennis ball is from by smelling it (thanks, Phil). … A legislator in the Philippines is seeking harsher penalties for civilians who wear police or military uniforms.

Comments (84)

    More people say “Bumgardner” than “Baumgarner” when it comes to botching MadBum’s name.

    “Taken together, though, they constitute a trend of institutions substituting fantasy for reality”

    Yep, pretty soon we’ll all just be like the fat people in the floating chairs in Wall-E. Oblivious to the reality around them, focusing on the fantasy in front of them. Or at least that’s the theory right?

    Great example on the trends!

    That full MJ uni was impressive, too bad the player looked about 5′ 6″.

    That full MJ uni was impressive, too bad the player looked about 5′ 6″.

    He’s substituting fantasy for reality!


    The womens hot dog eating competition is not new- as stated in the article you linked, it began in 2011. Prior to then, the men and women competed together.

    RE: North Adams Steeple Cat Stirrup Photo…

    It appears the batter is wearing a black ankle-high sock/brace that covers the bottom of his stirrups. I’m hoping that’s the case because otherwise it’s hideous.

    Secondly, I’m tired of team nicknames with “Cat” added to some other word (Michigan Battle Cats, New Britain Rock Cats, etc.). But STEEPLE Cat? WTH is that?

    I once saw a Jeopardy! contestant have credit for his answer (and control of the board) taken away for saying Wimbledon with too much of a T sound instead of a D sound. I thought it was quite petty, actually

    I once had a Jeopardy! answer ruled wrong because they thought I said “Panmunjong” while in fact, I had correctly said “Panmunjom”. Grrr.

    I nearly panicked on my first Final Jeopardy when I wasn’t 100% sure of Maya Lin’s first name. Rather than risk having my response disqualified for a typo, I wrote “Who is M. Lin,” which was accepted.

    God forbid you make a video with ‘Clemson’ in it. Try not saying ‘Clempson’, which I find impossible to do, or ‘Clemzin’ if you want to avoid the wrath of Clemson fans.

    Never in my life have a inserted a “p” sound into Clemson, nor even thought to.

    I’m just south of Clemson country, and “Clemp-son” is quite prevalent among the locals. Alabama fans never say “Crimp-son Tide” though if you’re not listening closely, you’ll hear the “P” in both.

    I don’t think people “think” to insert a p sound, it just happens instinctively. You bring your lips together for the m sound, and just push them together a little too tightly, and next thing you know, you’ve got a little p.

    It probably has something to do with the transition from the voiced “m” to the voiceless “s”. The “Clemzin” pronunciation happens when you continue to voice the “s”, turning it into a “z”. The difficulty in switching back and forth between voiced and voiceless sounds in a word is why we ended up with the plural of “leaf” being “leaves” and the plural of “wolf” being “wolves”. People were pronouncing “wolfs” as “wolvs”, so the spelling changed to match. The “P” in “Clempson” happens when you stop voicing the “m” while your lips are still together. What happens when your lips are together, you aren’t voicing, and you blow air out your mouth as you open your lips into the “s” position? Voila, a little puff of air known as a “p”! The trick is to stop voicing the “m” at the precise instant that you open your lips into the “s” position. Stop voicing too soon, you get “Clempson”; Keep voicing too long, you get “Clemzon”.

    Yes, I have spent way too much time this morning thinking about this.

    One word that drives me nuts–and i think it’s mostly you northerners, Paul–is when people say “foward”. As in, “Please foward that email to me.” Or, “I look foward to our meeting”.

    The word is FORWARD. There are 2 R’s in there.

    This is part of the trend to drop the [r] sound after certain vowels in the northeast, which was brought over to the Boston area after the Revolution and while ties to England, where it has since become standard, were closest and strongest. While it’s mostly disappeared in the NYC area, it is still going strong up in New England.

    If you listen carefully to people who say “foward”, they’re probably dropping the second R as well.

    I’m not referring to those Chowds who say “fahwahd”. Dialect/accent is one thing. Mispronunciation is another.

    Don’t get me started on “aks”!!

    The Ebay listing description of the Quarterbacks LaserDisc explains that it’s a transfer from a 1969 16mm film to a ca. 1978 LaserDisc, which is about when they were starting to be marketed. Reading further, there is a quite comprehensive and interesting (to AV fans) history of the LaserDisc format on this listing. One other note: DiscoVision the company predated disco the musical genre. Still, ca. 1978=disco=Boogie Oogie Oogie!

    Placket lettering on this 1991 Memphis Chicks jersey…love it. Why didn’t they just put the MEM on one side and PHIS on the other? link

    Regarding Reds vs Cubs, has there been another “Wishbone C” throwback matchup? It just seems unique to see both teams with extremely similar logo.

    I wouldn’t worry too much about the pronunciation thing. After all, this is a from a country where “St. John” is pronounced “Sinjin”, “Featherstonehaugh” is said “Fanshaw” and “Chomondeley” is “Chumlee”.

    “the King’s English”

    While we live in a country with Norfolk and Greenwich.

    the letter D and the letter T do not sound the same no matter where you are.

    And the O’s are already wearing this championship-anniversary sleeve patch on their non-throwback jerseys.

    It looks like the Orioles kiss-cut the black outlines on their orange tackle twill. I can’t see any stitching over the orange lettering.

    We’ve seen separate shots of the All-Star Game BP caps and jerseys, but I’m not sure we’ve seen them together until now. I like it.

    Poor Bogaerts looks like he’s being held hostage.

    Francesca also says Ternamint when speaking about the NCAA basketball tournament.

    I guess that’s how I pronounce tournament, too. Are you one of those people that pronounces it “TORE-nament”?

    I grew up pronouncing the “L” in “salmon,” and had reached adulthood by the time I finally ran into someone who didn’t. Imagine my surprise on learning that the L-less pronunciation is apparently the majority take among English-speakers.

    I always thought the “h” was silent in “herb” as in 11 herbs and spices. Lately it seems like it’s proper to say herb as in Tarlek, to keep with the WKRP theme.

    Sometimes they just flat out change pronunciations to be less “offensive”. Uranus is now YERinus and harassment is now HAIRissment.

    I used to say “Wimbleton” as well! But I think I corrected myself by my college years.

    The ticker item about Venezuela reminds me…Dad always called the 1981 Dodgers rookie phenom Fernando Venezuela. Over the years he’s botched so many names he makes Les Nessman seem like a consummate professional.

    One of the all time greats. My dad and I still laugh hysterically at that one.

    I used to love Bob Murphy’s old timey pronunciation of Venezuela as VenzaWAYla.

    Oh, I knew someone who would pronounce Venezuela that way, and it drove me crazy! Of course he mispronounced lots of other words, too. I heard him pronounce “furlough” as “furlong”, and “foal” as “fowl”.

    I was in first grade when Fernando hit the big time, and for a couple of years I pronounced the country’s name like the player’s name. Heck, maybe Venezuela should consider changing its name to Valenzuela to help get over the damage the national reputation has taken lately.

    My pet peeves: it’s athlete, not athalete, and it’s asterisk, not asterick or, even worse, astrick.

    Also, Mike Francesa has never been wrong about anything, ever. And he most definitely never fell asleep on the air.

    The fantasy vs reality mess is something that has become an increasing problem in sports coverage and one that I fear is growing beyond just “pet peeve” status. Most sports fans have a reasonable expectation that “LIVE SPORTS” is just that, LIVE. After all, it is “live” coverage that drives broadcast television. It is one of the only things people still want to watch as it happens, increasing the value of things like commercials to the networks. Fans don’t want to watch replays. They want to see things happen as they happen. And yet, more and more I see examples of replays being passed off as “Live” coverage.

    As a sports writer, it is not uncommon for me to be watching several broadcasts simultaneously. This leads to situations where it is painfully obvious that something is not live.

    Here are just two recent examples. But trust me, this happens a lot.

    At the US open recently, Fox had four channels of coverage. At one moment, they showed Kevin Na putting on the 12th hole during their normal broadcast coverage with no indication on the screen or from the announcers that this had happened previously (something that was commonly heard in golf broadcasts in years past). And yet, on one of their supplemental channels, Na was seen teeing off on the 13th hole. Clearly the putt on the 12th hole had happened several minutes earlier.


    Another one happened just last night during ESPN’s All-Star game selection show. Granted, not a game, but the same concept. It was a live broadcast and they interviewed Mike Trout. Amazingly, at the exact same time, Trout was being shown in the dugout during a game. There was no indication that the interview had been previously recorded.


    As TV producer Ralph Mellanby tells it, he did a bit of substituting fantasy for reality when the USA beat Finland, 4-2, to win the gold medal in ice hockey at the Winter Olympics.

    After the final buzzer, the ABC feed cut to goalie Jim Craig, being mobbed by his teammates in front of the US net. Next came reaction shots of the crowds inside and outside the arena in Lake Placid.

    But then the ABC crew lost track of Craig’s whereabouts and they were trying frantically to find him to get him on camera.

    It turned out a cameraman had in fact found Craig by the bench, and the instant-replay operators had captured the signature “Where’s my father?” moment on videotape.

    Mellanby made the decision to cut the taped moment into the live feed. It was ethically dodgy, but it was great television. Mellanby wrote in one of his memoirs that it was seven years before he had the nerve to tell Roone Arledge what he’d done. He wrote that Arledge’s reaction was, “I’m glad you’re a Canadian, because no American producer would’ve done that.”

    It was ethically dodgy, but it was great television.

    Phrasing it like that makes it sound like the latter somehow mitigates or even excuses the former. It does not.

    Here, let’s restructure that sentence: It was great television, but it was ethically dodgy.

    Much better that way.

    Zero tolerance.

    I’ve heard people say “masonary” instead of “masonry” when referring to stone work. It does seem to roll off the tongue a little more easily.

    Very similar sounds at work when people say “cavalry” instead of “Calvary.” It’s sort of the more familiar set of sounds, and “val” occurs much more commonly in English than “alv,” so it’s an understandable error. Even from a pastor during a sermon, where I’ve heard the mispronunciation once or twice.

    Sportscasters in Reno have been saying “Wimbleton” for as long as I can remember. This from people who become outraged when one pronounces the state name “Nev-ah-da”. As for PBS, remember when a show that examines genealogy of notable people allowed itself to be censored by Ben Affleck because his ancestors owned slaves? I love PBS, but they’re not as pristine as they would like to be.

    The “A Capitol Fourth” controversy strikes me as being more an issue of troubling public expectations than an issue of troubling network behavior. That particular broadcast isn’t a news event. It’s a TV show. (So much so that it’s positively miserable to attend in person.) It’s no different than any variety program, such as an episode of the Tonight Show. I recall one awards broadcast, I think an Oscars, when the viewers saw a video tribute reel but technical difficulties led to the video not actually being shown in the auditorium. Producers chose to show the video in the broadcast rather than showing what actually happened, which was a room of celebrities not watching a video. Entertainment programming is allowed to make editorial decisions like that; we are not owed anything different, nor warning that such a choice has been made. To expect otherwise is to conflate the ethical demands of entertainment programming with the ethical demands of news coverage, an ethical confusion that can only serve to lower standards for news coverage, not to raise standards for entertainment programming.

    Nonsense. If it were just entertainment — as opposed to LIVE entertainment — they could simply dust off and re-run the same canned show each year, like the Yule Log.

    But they don’t do that. And why don’t they do that? Because they want to show THIS YEAR’S fireworks, as they’re happening. The reason it’s exciting is that it’s a live event, with all the attendant risk that live events bring — the risk of fucking up, the risk of an accident, the risk that you might not nail the performance (or the coverage of the performance) exactly right. If you don’t have that risk, you also don’t have that thrill, that tingle — and that’s part of why people tune in. Another part of why they tune in is to have a sense of shared spectacle with the people who are there at the live event.

    Running stock footage ruins all of that. PBS should be free to do that, but only if they’re going to be transparent enough to admit that they’re doing it. Put a little “Taped Earlier” note in the corner of the screen — it’s not that hard. And it’s infinitely more honest.

    Would that detract from the thrill of the broadcast? Yeah, a little — and that’s the whole point of why this issue matters. Because there’s a real difference between something that’s happening live and something that isn’t. And that difference is the difference between fantasy and reality.

    The risk of failure? That’s not actually a reason normal people watch concerts. “Oh, man, Dierks Bentley totally missed a chord on the intro to ‘Home’.” It was awesome – you should have been watching!” is not a thing that anybody actually says about musical performances. “Shared spectacle”? If that’s a reason anyone tunes in to “A Capitol Fourth,” then there’s a much deeper lie being told here, since there is nothing spectacular about attending the event. Except for a couple of hundred people with VIP seats, it’s an absolutely brutal evening of long periods of boredom interrupted from time to time by brief glimpses, usually on a distant video screen, of on-stage action. “A Capitol Fourth” is staged as a TV show for the TV audience; the live spectators serve exactly the same role that the audience on “The Tonight Show” serves on that broadcast. If anybody believes otherwise, it’s because the believe a basic premise about the event that is itself a lie, and that premise falsifies any further expectation of newsroom ethics.

    Which gets to the more important aspect of your response that I think is exactly spot on: The importance of the distinction between fantasy and reality. “A Capitol Fourth” is fantasy – it is a television variety show. It’s not a competition or a news event; suspense about what could happen is not part of the show. It is scripted entertainment. To hold it to the standards of unscripted reality is to muddy the ethical distinction between entertainment and news. “The Tonight Show” is not wrong to show prerecorded skits; it’s not wrong to let a musician do a second take during the 6pm taping and show only the better, second version when it airs later that evening. (Whether that’s the right editorial decision is an aesthetic, not ethical question. I’ve seen late-night shows where they soldiered on through massive technical disruptions, and it was much more compelling TV than it would have been had they reset the stage, done another take, and aired that.)

    The risk of failure? That’s not actually a reason normal people watch concerts. “Oh, man, Dierks Bentley totally missed a chord on the intro to ‘Home’.” It was awesome — you should have been watching!”

    I’m not suggesting that people are waiting around for someone to fail. I’m suggesting that the RISK of failure is a major part of what makes live performance exciting and worthwhile. Which it is. Have you ever performed live (as a speaker, a singer, a musician, an athlete)? There’s a huge amount of pressure. There’s a tremendous risk of failure. Most performers rise above that — that’s part of why we applaud. We’re not just saluting their talent or skill set; we’re saluting their ability to bring that talent to bear IN A PRESSURIZED LIVE SETTING. That’s why live performance is so compelling. And it’s why presenting something that *purports* to be live performance when it’s actually not live is fraudulent.

    “A Capitol Fourth” is fantasy — it is a television variety show. It’s not a competition or a news event; suspense about what could happen is not part of the show.

    This is demonstrably false. If you were correct, the backlash to PBS’s deception would not have occurred. In fact, “A Capitol Fourth” purports to be live coverage of a live event, and people have the perfectly justifiable expectation that it will be precisely that. When it turns out to be something else, people have the similarly justifiable feeling that they’ve been duped.

    And they’re right.

    One more time: If it were simply an entertainment show — as opposed to a LIVE entertainment show — they’d just dust off and rebroadcast the same show every year. But they don’t do that. Why? Because people want to see a live event. If the PBS folks want to show something else, that’s absolutely their prerogative — as long as they admit that that’s what they’re doing. Truth in labeling. Anything else is fraudulent.

    “The Tonight Show” is not wrong to show prerecorded skits; it’s not wrong to let a musician do a second take during the 6pm taping and show only the better, second version when it airs later that evening.

    But Saturday Night Live, which purports to be live, would be wrong to use a taped performance from the dress rehearsal, even if the music act nailed their song.

    Whether or not the ceremonies in Washington are better on TV than in person is beside the point. (Football in the snow is much more fun on TV than in person.) If they claim to be showing this year’s fireworks, they should be showing this year’s fireworks. If there’s a reason to show a previous year’s, then tell me that that’s what I’m watching.

    Other fun Francesa pronunciations:

    Manning: MAHN-ing
    Kershaw: Ker-SHA
    d’Arnaud: Dun-no

    The funny thing (well one of them) about Francesa is that he can mangle names all day, but if a caller does it, he will mock them. What a douche.

    -I look forward to seeing what the Maple Leafs have planned for centennial season. I anticipated that we are going to get a green Toronto St. Patricks uniform worn at sometime. That would be awesome.

    -Don’t burn those Kevin Durant jerseys. There were good times. If you have to get rid of one, keep the better looking Supersonics jersey and get rid of the Thunder one. Sorry OKC – you know its true. Too many colours on the Thunder uniform.

    Lots of hosiery tonight at Wrigley for the 1916 throwback! Nice to see, especially with the Cubs’ two-tone socks.

    My biggest annoyance on pronunciation came from my father, who pronounced “Washington” as “worshington” . There’s no R there, Dad.

    Bill Jones is a freakin’ genius! I want all of those old school WHA, NHL, NFL and MLB SLUs!

    Buyer beware: The eBay listing for those vintage NFL posters is misleading. The description reveals that they are “reproduction prints,” not originals.

    Paul, God help you if you ever have to make a video about AFC Wimbledon, aka The Dons.

    Elliott – Wimbledon, UK


    A day late on this, but I went to college at Towson University, just outside of Baltimore. Throughout the four and a half years I was there, my mom regularly referred to the school and the city as “Townson.

    On the subject of tennis and mispronunciation, I’ve gotten to the point where I can hardly stand to listen to Brad Gilbert’s commentary because he so regularly mispronounces players’ names. I actually got into a little Twitter battle with him over his mispronunciation of Fabio Fognini’s name (it’s Fo-neeny, not Fog-neeny).

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