102 thoughts on “March 5, 2013: Remind Me…”

    1. Pretty awesome. I like the part where you compare yourself to the president. Also I'm confused why the Buttes aren't the Battlers and the ' County aren't the Chargers.

      1. dido on the presidential comparison. for anyone who doesn't know you at least as well as we do, that might sound like a brag, but it just made me giggle.

      2. Potter County is the Battlers because Gettysburg, the larger of the two schools involved in the coop, was the Battlers and insisted on keeping the name. I assume Chargers was a compromise choice when the Onida Warriors, the Agar Hi-Pointers, and the Blunt Monarchs all combined to form Sully Buttes.

  1. Went to my first Wolves game of the season last night. I think they grabbed some guy out of the crowd to start and guard LeBron. Screw "Couch to 5k." The Wolves have "Couch to NBA!"

    1. this was before the game :

      Joan Niesen ‏@JoanNiesen
      Rick Adelman just offered any member of the media willing to guard LeBron tonight a 10-hour contract

    1. I listened yesterday and liked it a lot. Of course, I always really liked "Head Like a Hole"

    1. The couple believe the ring fell into a sink back in 1995 and was lost in vegetable peelings that were turned into compost or fed to their sheep.

      Pays to be "green".

    1. The refs had a good plan for announcing their final decision: huddle up, make the call, run away as quickly as possible.

    1. Too late for us, but I hope this is a growing trend. My son is probably not going to be accepted at Notre Dame even though he has a 3.8 GPA in a college prep high school with multiple AP classes, an Eagle Scout, two different service leadership positions in his high school and church, and multiple school activities from sports to theater. But he had a relatively pedestrian test score, even though he's taken it three times. That test score is going to kill his chances at places like Notre Dame or similar school. Because of that test score, he didn't get into his first choice college at the UMN (College of Biological Sciences) but was accepted into CLA instead.

      1. It's a tough issue. Test scores provide a modest explanatory boost over h.s. grades for predicting first-term college grades. That's about it. But how else do you compare across high schools, particularly with the tremendous grade-inflation trend of the past couple decades? exhibit A

        The average GPA for the class of 1996 was 2.64 on a scale of 0 to 4.0. However, in 2006 the average GPA was 2.90, an increase of 0.26, or just over a quarter of a grade point, with a 47.5 percent increase in the number of graduates, from n = 87,721 to n = 129,428. Figure 1 shows the general trend of rising overall grade point averages across the 11 cohorts included in this study. Despite the general rise in grades, standardized scores on the SAT remained relatively unchanged.

        exhibit B

        The average amount of grade inflation is about 0.25, or about one-quarter of one grade point on a grading scale with a range of 4 points (0.00 to 4.00). This means that, during the 13-year period under study, high school GPA for ACT-tested public high school graduates increased by about 6.25 percent—without an accompanying increase in ACT Composite score.

        But this may understate the average amount of grade inflation when we consider that far fewer Ds and Fs are given in high school than As, Bs, or Cs. Data for the 13 years of this study show that the percentage of students with GPAs below 2.00 is less than 5 percent. This suggests that the practical range of high school grades is 2.00 (C) to 4.00 (A). So, with half of the possible grade range effectively eliminated from consideration, one-quarter of a grade point now represents not 6.25 but 12.5 percent of the range. Therefore, it may be more accurate to conclude that high school grades have inflated 12.5 percent between 1991 and 2003.

        1. I have trouble getting too worked up about grade inflation, at least as far as it concerns college admissions. K12 schools should really be focusing more on teaching than evaluating, and the onus is on colleges and universities to scout the best talent.

          Probably the biggest problem with grade inflation as it relates to quality of teaching is that inflated grades inevitably give rise to lowered expectations from students and even initially motivated students tend to be less motivated in the face of lowered expectations.

          1. I think your point about inflated grades giving rise to lowered expectations is a good one. In my experience, I did the work required to "get" the B+/A-, whether or not I "earned" it or actually learned anything from the class.

            1. This. I worry about whether my kid is learning in classes. Unfortunately, the numbers of slots for "highly selective" schools has not kept pace with the numbers of students competing for those slots.

              How do you tell an ambitious, smart kid NOT to worry about grades when you have no evidence that getting a B+ or lower in a single class MIGHT be the difference between admission to a preferred school and getting denied admission? The admissions process is so competitive and opaque to parents and kids that they can't help but get caught up in the numbers games.

              and that's what organizations like the College Board prey on. We just cut a fat check for AP exams for this spring. For my h.s. sophomore. We'll be doing that two more times. And she's already stressing out about SAT/ACT prep classes, despite me telling her time and again that there is almost no empirical evidence that those classes make any difference (the learning curve on those exams is relatively small, and can mostly be climbed by doing the free practice tests, AFAIK).

              1. I never took one of the exam courses, but I always thought the test prep books were pretty useful in terms of gaming the tests. Probably the most useful thing for being good at tests is just to do lots of them, though. Not that this should really be anyone's goal in life, but if you embrace all of the opportunities you have to take tests through things like math competitions, science bowl, knowledge bowl, academic decathlon, etc., I think that tests become a lot less daunting. Having participated in all of that, I could go into the ACT knowing it wasn't going to be the hardest test I took that year (or even that month), even if it did matter a lot and I wasn't going to get a perfect score.

                Do any colleges even accept AP test scores for credit any more? 10 years ago, I know some departments at Minnesota were pretty reluctant to grant credit for having passed an AP exam. I am biased because I never took any AP classes, but they just seem like rebranded "Honors" classes that schools used to offer before AP exams existed.

                1. sure. The UCs and CSUs accept AP classes for college credit when backed with a "4" or "5" on the relevant exam. And despite a lot of grousing that won't be changing any time soon, for the simple reason that it already is near-impossible to graduate on time from a UC or CSU (absent AP credits).

                  fwiw, AP courses did not exist at my h.s. back in the dark ages. And I endorse your statement/implication that they are little more than advanced sections of h.s. classes. The whole AP thing is just a cash grab industry, IMO. Those classes RARELY provide an equivalent educational value to an actual college course. (indeed, our h.s. no longer offers AP chemistry; the teacher prefers to offer an Honors chemistry class, which is just as or more rigorous, but doesn't require the kid to pony up to the College Board for an exam that really shouldn't get the kid out of freshman chemistry in college anyway)

                  1. I can see how that's not an easy situation for UC or CSU admins. A compromise might be to offer fast-track courses for students with AP credit. For instance, someone who passed AP Chem with a 4 or 5 could take a combined Chem 1 and Chem 2 class, spending one semester on the two courses, which might benefit them more than jumping straight into Chem 2. For some students, I suppose that wouldn't help them fast track as much as they wanted, but for someone who needed Chem 2, it could be a viable solution.

                    Perhaps with advancements in online course content/presentation/etc, schools could have AP certified students take a shorter online version of a course which would move rapidly if the student could demonstrate knowledge but would allow them time to learn material that they missed in their AP course. Of course, if the school is going to go to that much effort, they don't really need the AP exam at all, they can probably just as easily come up with their own chemistry exam.

                    1. Right. Nothing wrong with placementexams. Why have a kid who is best-fluent in Spanish take Spanish 1 just for an easy "A"?

              2. I'm pro AP classes so long as you get a 4-5 and can get college credit. At that price it is a huge bargain.

                Whether an AP class is equivalent to a college course it is largely dependent on the HS teachers. Where I went, they did not teach to the test, and those were some of the best "college" courses I ever took. I can't say the same for some of the b school classes I took in the great state of Iowa.

                I will say that all AP exams were optional and also that this is going back 10 years now. Ugh.

                1. The hardest classes I ever had were senior year of hs.
                  We had something like an AP thing, first year trying it. I didn't buy the credits because about half of the schools I was interested in wouldn't take them. Augsburg would have, though.

                  Class was like college courses (you know, 100+ pages to read before next class, etc.), but with a class a day instead of two classes a week, and still needing to attend other classes. And I took two of these!

                  College courses were a welcome let-down.

          2. How should colleges and universities scout for the best talent?

            We need something like a dating service for college applicants. They put their info in the system and then the schools make offers. I think that would open up a lot of possibilities to match students and schools.

            1. Extend the draft to academics! Think of the excitement. 130 thousand participants; who goes first?

            2. I don't know that I have a great answer for that. For sports, it's relatively straightforward to evaluate the performance of the players (though it is more difficult to separate the impact of recruiting and teaching on that performance.) With academics, universities aren't really measuring their performance in any way I consider meaningful. As far as I can gather, the incentive system is something like this:

              1. The school wants to achieve a high ranking (e.g. US News and World Report)

              2. High rankings seem to be based largely on criteria such as: ACT/SAT scores of incoming students, strength of faculty, freshman retention rate, graduation rate, assessment by administrators at peer institutions, financial resources, alumni giving (?), etc.

              3. A lot of those criteria can be improved with more money (obviously financial resources, alumni giving, but also strength of faculty.) This provides a big incentive for admitting legacy students of wealthy alumni to boost fund-raising efforts for faculty hires and capital improvements. Seems like capital improvements seem to be outpacing faculty salaries, but I could be wrong on that.

              4. Boosting ACT/SAT scores of incoming students more or less boils down to convincing students with better ACT/SAT scores to attend your school rather than a different school. This is more or less an exercise in having better propaganda or shinier newer buildings than the next guy. Students can have reasonable insight into which school offers a better learning environment, but basically no view on whether two schools with similar environments achieve different student outcomes.

              5. Last and not least, since value added is difficult to measure, prestige is important, and higher tuition leads to the perception of better quality, so whatever you do, don't lower tuition, even if you can afford to charge no tuition (which I believe to be the case for some Ivies with huge endowments.) Besides, if you lower tuition, you'll probably wind up with students from lower income families who can't donate as much to the school.

              In short, even not-for-profit colleges and universities are basically doing anything they can to get more money, but it's unclear what that money does to help educate the students. Until there's a good way to measure value added by the school, I don't know how you improve that situation.

              1. while I generally agree with ubes' points, I think he's probably gone a bit too far re: the money thing.

                selective colleges do indeed practice price discrimination. Most of the best ones have pretty solid endowments, so that they can practice "need-blind" admissions, or something approaching need-blind. And they actually care about getting a decent mix of kids from different backgrounds (socio-economic, ethnic, geographic, academic interest, etc.) because that is part of what they are selling. Some will end up being wildly successful financially, and will reward the school in the long run. But only a fraction need to be big winners.

                It's not about maximizing near-term revenue OR long-term revenue. If that were the case, many of these schools would be engaged in capital campaigns to expand their physical plants and raise enrollments. But they don't -- they tend to stay very close to their long-run equilibrium sizes as a matter of policy.

                yes, some schools, particularly some Ivies, have large enough endowments that they could eliminate tuition entirely. Some have moved in that general direction, led by Harvard. But I don't think that free tuition for all is in the long-run interests of either the schools or the students. Kids gotta have financial skin in the game in order to motivate commitment to their own educations.

                and most "elite" schools lack the endowment size that would be required to pull off the Harvard trick anyway.

                1. I have probably gone a little overboard, but I feel pretty strongly about it in general, mainly tuition. Yes, colleges can practice price discrimination, but I think that sticker shock scares off a lot of potential students way before they can even apply, and navigating through the financial aid mess is not easy and can easily go wrong. The sticker shock is probably worst for low-income parents who are not familiar with the financial aid process. It has to be harder to push your kids to do well in school if you don't think they can afford college. So I think the sticker shock has negative ramifications that even reduce the number of students qualified to attend college.

                  Regarding skin in the game, I don't know how much I buy that line of reasoning. In the age of credit cards and massive loans, I'm not sure that students feel they are really spending money, or even have a choice for that matter. And if anything, I always got the impression that many students who really understood the cost of their education felt entitled to pass their classes because they paid for it. And if they paid for it, who was the professor to say that they failed? They've been raised in a culture that celebrates "the customer is always right" and if you're dropping $10K/year on something, you sure start to feel like a customer.

                  I'm not really advocating no tuition, but tuition has to be something a student can reasonably earn in three months so they can get a job in the summer to pay for school without taking on loans and then focus on being a student for nine months out of the year. $10/hr for 12 weeks of 40 hours/week is $4,800. Even at tuition of $4,800/year, then, a student would be dependent on outside resources for food, clothing, transportation, and shelter.

                  1. I can get behind something like this, in terms of tuition levels. I worked 40-60 hours per week during the summer, then 25-30 during the semesters to pay for living expenses, and I still had to take student loans to pay for tuition. I was fortunate that my mom was able to pay for about half of my tution/board so my current student loan payment is a very manageable amount. Even with all of that, though, it seems insane that I have to have what is essentially a car payment for 15-20 years after I graduate.

                    My wife, on the other hand, attended the same school, but had no help for tuition/board and had to cover it all in student loans while working a bunch. Plus, she went into a major that requires a certification after you get your degree to do anything with even a modest income, and to get that certification would require doing a one or two year, unpaid internship that she would have had to pay for herself (or with more loans!) while not having the time to work a paying side job. Long story short, she couldn't afford to do that and now her earning potential is.... not good. She hasn't even thought about going back into that field in 3 or 4 years, and likely never will again. Its also entirely unlikely that we will be able to make any payments on her loan in any time soon because of the crazy cost, and I don't think we're the exception to student loans.

                    Long story short, I agree with Ubes that college tuition these days needs fixing and the student loan thing is even worse.

                  2. I completely agree about the sticker shock thing, ubes. There is a great deal of ignorance about actual out-of-pocket costs. but that is and should be changing, thanks to the spread of net price calculators.

                2. But I don't think that free tuition for all is in the long-run interests of either the schools or the students. Kids gotta have financial skin in the game in order to motivate commitment to their own educations.

                  Isn't this easily testable since many countries have free post-secondary education or even free education completely?

                  1. Yes, I think it is possible to test.

                    so, which countries lead in intellectual property development (patents, etc.)? that's one measuring stick. The U.S. is second to Japan in patent applications and patents granted per year, but first by a long ways in patents in force.

                    graduate education is dominated by U.S. schools and programs. these are indicators of undergraduate value-added to some measure.

                    the free-education undergrad model is/was notorious for producing ... nothing of value. Some european countries have started moving away from the free education model.

                    1. I think patents are a terrible measuring stick, but that's a screed for another venue. I'm not sure using intellectual property is useful at all due to so much noise. But I have a hugely biased viewpoint and am curious to see a more even-handed take on whether free college education is useful or not.

                    2. The US is likely to have a big edge on any counting stats given our population relative to most countries. How many patents does the US produce relative to the EU? That's about as fair a fight as comparing the US to, say, Germany or France.

                      Measuring the efficacy of undergraduate education seems like a pretty tricky problem. The general point of undergraduate education seems to be to help graduates think more critically and have some specialized knowledge, which may or may not be immediately useful in a practical sense. (After all, we're not talking about trade/professional schools which specialize in preparing students for particular jobs.) I'm not sure that I'm swayed by your arguments here, though I feel US education suffers more in comparison to what it could be than in comparison to what other countries have.

                    3. Yea, I wasn't suggesting that patents or patents per capita be THE stick. It's one stick, however, and relatively easy to measure cross-nationally.

                      Another approach might be worker productivity. also has problems (cost of capital is an important factor), but by that measure, the US is 4th among OECD countries, trailing Norway, Luxembourg and Ireland, respectively. source

                      Norway has a well-respected university system. Luxembourg is a micro-country. Ireland -- what's up with that???

          3. K12 schools should really be focusing more on teaching than evaluating

            My kids are just in elementary school and they're already being taught to the tests. It drives me crazy.

      2. Are you an alum? If not, I'd guess that legacy students clogging up the admissions rolls are just as big a problem for your son as test scores would be. Even then, being an alum might not be enough, you might need to be an alum who donates a bunch to the university. Cash grabs all around.

        After the legacy spots are filled up, at any highly selective university, there are more qualified candidates than space for enrollment. Most schools would be just as well served removing the obviously unqualified applicants and then randomly choosing from the rest.

        1. Most schools would be just as well served removing the obviously unqualified applicants and then randomly choosing from the rest.

          There is a lot of truth in this statement.

          I took the Girl to an introductory event for a UC program called Cosmos. It's a summer science & tech program for h.s. kids. The director of the program said basically the same thing -- we get way more highly-qualified applicants than we have slots, so don't read too much (anything) into being rejected. We are basically guessing when we make selections, particularly for the most over-subscribed sub-program (the pre-pre-pre-med thing, which she mocked).

          1. the pre-pre-pre-med thing, which she mocked

            Med school is a different ballgame, which worries me more than any other aspect of post-secondary education in the US. Maybe I'm overestimating the value of quality healthcare in relation to the value of other academic study (which I still think is important), but I don't see how the current set-up for med school (pay hundreds of thousands to get your degree, take on loans, hope to pay it back later) can possibly be giving us the best possible doctors. How much would professional baseball suffer if players were charged tuition and forced to take on loans until they made it to the majors? Even if there was some tuition assistance, the pool of available players would immediately suffer.

            Pay-to-play is a very similar concept in youth American soccer which is perceived by many observers to be a big hinderance to the US's ability to reach its potential at high level soccer. Until recently, almost all of the best soccer teams were traveling teams which required enough fees that they were out of reach to anyone not making middle class income (or even some families with middle class incomes.) In contrast, in countries with popular professional leagues, teams establish professional academies for players at (somewhat disturbingly) young ages, where players are not only not required to pay, but typically receive what amounts to a private education and perhaps a stipend. Lately, MLS has been pushing its teams to establish their own academies and they have been starting to bear some fruit. DC United had an academy graduate (Andy Najar) win MLS rookie of the year in 2010 and just this winter he was transferred to Anderlecht in Belguim, a team that pretty consistently competes in either the Europa League or the Champions League.

            1. No argument here. I saw a recent story that noted that U.S. physicians command significantly higher incomes than their OECD counterparts. That is a direct, if partial, consequence of how the industry has cartelized to limit entry.

              I am a proponent of shaving away at physicians' exclusive scope of practice rights in the states. the hoops we make nurse practitioners (for example) jump through to do their jobs are ridiculous. [goes off on Forbidden Zone screed]

              I'd say more about the corporate practice of medicine restrictions in the states too, but [more Forbidden Zone screeding]

              as for my specific comments above, my reference was a little unclear. The director of the program was mocking over-eager parents and their programmed children, who somehow thought that a unit on biological sciences in a summer STEM program for h.s. students would actually make any difference in those kids' ability to get into med school.

                1. oh, this a thousand times. Club sports is the bane of modern American middle- and upper-income family life. Let the kids play, and let them play multiple sports and have fun.

                  Why are we racing to spend thousands of dollars per year per kid on club volleyball or club soccer, when 99 percent of these kids won't even play that sport in college? It is insane.

                  My daughter is a decent athlete. She is not scholarship-athlete material, and she knows it. She just wants to play. Her h.s. volleyball coach has made it subtly clear that if you don't play club, you might not make the varsity team. NONE of the girls on this year's JV or varsity is college-scholarship material. NONE. and yet a couple of her teammates are traveling several nights per week (30+ minutes drive each way) for practice with club teams, almost year-round. Club teams that demand kids miss school sports events (actual GAMES) in order to show up for practice. Ugh.

                  1. Man, that sucks. It seems like something that's probably against a bylaw somewhere, but it's difficult to enforce. For instance, we weren't supposed to have mandatory team practices outside the regular season for our high school sports. (Of course, "captain's practice" was a common and thinly veiled way around that rule just prior to the beginning of the season.) Insisting that someone play for a club team in the supposed offseason seems way worse than that.

                    1. It sounds like a lot of us here have some awesome times ahead of us once high school rolls around. Probably a good thing my son won't be playing football since one of the coaches at the high school is currently my main enemy. Hopefully, that leads to not having to worry about club sports, which I don't really know anything about. Is that like what we used to call "traveling" teams, I'm guessing?

                    2. I played on a traveling team for basketball in 8th and 9th grades. Back then, Minnesota state h.s. rules basically required kids after 9th grade to choose between club sports and h.s. sports, and the h.s. sports almost always won. (we played a healthy weekend schedule, but our practice schedule never ever ever conflicted with school team practices or games -- in 8th grade, I was on the school wrestling team; in 9th, the school BB team).

                      AAU was nonexistent beyond 9th grade clubs. Oh, the good ol' days.

                      clubs, and over-involved parents, are ruining youth sports in America. GOML.

                    3. I don't envy that aspect of parenthood, that's for sure. It seemed so simple when I was growing up, even just 15-20 years ago. There were some "traveling" teams in the summer, maybe you might go to a sports summer camp, but otherwise you had your choice of fall, winter, and spring sports and the fee to join was something like $10-$25, with a pretty reasonable family cap.

                    4. What you guys are describing is my experience as well. When did things shift to this other crap bS is talking about?

                      Maybe by the time all of our kids who are still little get to that age, things will shift back towards a more relaxed approach to the off-season.

                    5. The guy who just cut a check for spring hockey is looking at his watch, checking his phone and whistling softly...

      1. From a bottom-line perspective, it seems a little short-sighted to criticize the University for canceling the UNC series to pad its win-loss record, since a better win-loss record can be the difference between making a bowl and not making a bowl, and the coach gets extra time to practice with his team if he makes a bowl. More suspect to me is the entire system of how college football games are scheduled years in advance for no particularly good reason and why teams are punished with less practice time for not making a crappy bowl game.

        Anyway, extending Borton's contract obviously should have been announced in some fashion given that she makes about $500K/year.

  2. Are you ready to call it quits with winter? Here's a very short story about that very thing. Good reading on a snowy MN day, though I don't actually mind the snow right now. Ask me again in a few more weeks.

    1. Fortunately, my relationship with winter is still as fresh and fun as it was when it started.

  3. I'm not much for pontificating on the in's and out's of the NBA, but it sure seemed like the Heat got some help from the officials last night (not that they needed it). I'm also not a huge Barea fan, and his comment is likely hyperbole, but Allen's response to the foul was a bit over the top.

    "I've been playing in the NBA for seven years," Barea said. "I get hit harder than that every night. I don't get up crying and want to fight."

    T-wolves make it to within 6. Then, follow the flagrant with a technical and an offensive foul on Shved (while draining a 3) and you have a 6-point swing in favor of Miami. All downhill after that.

    1. I wasn't watching live and only saw the replay a few times. It seemed that Barea bumped Allen when Allen was a bit off-balance, causing him to topple easier. Some flopping/not bothering to recover his balance on Allen ups it from a foul (maybe) to flagrant 2.

      1. That's what I saw too. A friend was at the game - sitting at that end of the court when it happened. He said the bump, though intentional, was so innocuous that fans were couldn't believe it resulted in a flagrant instead of a flopping call. He also said that Adelman worked really hard to get his technical, more so than even the broadcast suggested.

        1. He also said that Adelman worked really hard to get his technical
          He needs to take a few notes from Gardy and learn the magic words.

        2. Adelman ranted for about a minute before the refs gave him the tee.
          I fully expected him to keep on going and get ejected.

      2. It seemed that Barea bumped Allen when Allen was a bit off-balance, causing him to topple easier

        I also only saw the replay, but its crazy that Allen actually shoved JJ seconds earlier when JJ was balanced, causing him to backpedal many feet (though, to be fair, JJ is a flopper, too.) without any kind of call. If Barea had done that with nothing happening prior, I could see the flagrant call, though even still, the ejection was over the top. But that sequence put a really good image on my biggest problem with Stern's NBA and the one thing that makes it really hard for me to want to watch on a regular basis.

        In other words, I would love to see Stern gone and a handful of refs gone with him.

        1. And hey, it even got downgraded to a flagrant-1 today. I'm just gonna go ahead and go all conspiracy on this and say that the reffing is fixed, since a flagrant-1 does not get an ejection.

  4. Not a fan of the Bremer/Gladden pairing today. Bremer doesn't talk enough; Dazzle (as always) talks too much. I sent an email to the Twins office a couple days ago complimenting the Bremer/Provus combo, fwiw (which is nothing)

    1. The Mariners used to have their radio and TV pbp guys switch between the two (I think they had the TV guy do radio for the 4-6 innings). I wish the Twins would do that to keep Gladden from doing pbp. I can handle Gladden for color commentating, but his pbp is horrible. I think Bert working with a different guy for a few innings would help draw out some more original comments as well.

  5. today FOX is officially announcing the launch of FOX Sports 1 as an alternative to ESPN. One of the things that have come out so far is that starting in 2014, there will be MLB LDS and LCS playoff games shown. That goes along with FOX Sports 1 plan to show MLB games during the week where if your team is lucky enough to play that game, the local RSN will be blacked out.

    Leagues and networks dont want you to find pirated streams of games, but bygolly they are making it harder and harder to not go that route with everything so spread out.

    Lurking on the horizon, the cable sports money bubble will burst.

    1. From my viewpoint, this seems to make games a little more accessible. Given that most cable/satellite operations have guides to help you find programming, I don't think it matters a lot for a fully-subscribed customer to have the game on FS1 vs. FOX. Now, if they don't have access to the channel, that's a different matter, and I would agree that's a problem. If FOX wants to position FS1 as a competitor to ESPN, then they'll do what they can to get it widely distributed. Then you basically have ABC vs. NBC vs. FOX in ESPN vs. NBCsports vs. FS1. (Where is CBS in all this?) It seems like ESPN2 would stand to lose the most, since presumably it will lose some programming to FS1, and without decent games on that channel, ratings will surely fall.

      I've always thought it was a bad long-term move to limit the audience for game broadcasts, because they are essentially advertising for the team--for tickets, merch, etc. But I wonder if these huge TV deals have flipped the incentives such that TV revenue is more important than gate revenue (that can't really be true, though, can it?) so teams are worried first about TV revenue and second about tickets.

      It does seem like the cable sports money bubble will burst eventually, though I almost expect the rest of cable TV to fall before cable sports does. I'm sure this observation is biased, but I know people who have cable to watch sports, but I don't know of anyone who has cable who isn't interested in sports.

      1. CBS has an all-sports network, too. It's on our cable system, although I rarely have time to watch. It seems to have talk shows on during the day (Doug Gottlieb, Tim Brando, Jim Rome) with mostly college sports on at night.

        1. yah, we have the CBS and NBC sports channels (and Fox Soccer AND the B1G network and, weirdly, the BYU network) as part of our package with U-Verse. which means that we are paying for it, whether we want it or not (in the marginal sense). Of the 100 (200?) channels we get in our package, I ever watch anything on maybe 30 or so channels. Bundling suh-hucks for the consumer.

      2. I get NBC on my cable (I actually watch that channel a lot more than I thought I would, with its randomness of Rugby 7, darts, NHL and now the MLS season is underway), but not CBS. FOX is flipping its SPEED channel to FOX Sports 1 (FOX Soccer flipping to FX2 or something) but I dont get SPEED on my cable package and it'll cost a lot more to upgrade to the package that has it. Something Im not willing to do.

    2. I certainly feel no shame in how I go about watching my favorite sports teams.

      1. I'm sure baseball wouldn't do this because it would probably result in fewer mlb.tv subscriptions (and maybe smaller TV deals), but they could try offering low-fi streams of their games (with associated ads and whatnot) for free. The pirate streaming sites are obviously gaining some revenue from their illegal streams and offering official streams would seem to cut them mostly out of the loop. (Unless the pirated streams have awesome video quality, I really having bothered looking for a stream in a while. These days I'll just turn my attention elsewhere, there is plenty to keep me entertained elsewhere.)

        I suppose some MBAs would worry about the low-fi streams tarnishing the brand or something like that, but the product is already being harmed when customers are seeing a cut-rate version of it on a pirated stream. They manage to survive giving their radio broadcasts for free and internet audio broadcasts nearly for free.

        1. I haven't watched in a while, but the quality of the streams is not particularly good. Its watchable, but its definitely not high def and freezes fairly often. I prefer to watch games on tv, but am in now way prepared to shell out the money for packages. MLB.tv isn't as badly priced, but from what I keep hearing from a lot of people here is that its pretty unreliable. Unless i could be guaranteed it'd work every time, its over priced.

          In other words, I think I like your idea quite a bit. I doubt they'd lose many customers, because the people willing to pay too much for cable/dish, then pay too much extra for Extra Innings (or even more ridiculous: Sunday Ticket) are probably, and I'm generalizing and assuming here, going to be willing to pay for that quality.

          You know what would also be great is if I could pay a smaller fee to only watch games for certain teams. If I could only watch Twin's games, that'd be great because that's all I want to watch. Make it so someone with that subscription is never blacked out (and also anyone with the full subscription) and I'd bet they'd lure some pirated streamers into giving them money.

          1. MLB.tv isn't as badly priced, but from what I keep hearing from a lot of people here is that its pretty unreliable.
            I don't think you can assume that, since you don't see the corresponding comments about it working great. I had no issues when I used it for a year and haven't had any problems with any other MLBAM stream (the draft for instance). I think 99% uptime is realistic, which means about 15 minutes of downtime a season per team.

            1. I've nearly pulled the trigger on it a couple of times, and I admit I've got some confirmation bias going in which comments I remember. Also, I wouldn't have any issue with blackouts, either, since I'm well out of the Twin's area. That said, I definitely won't be getting it for the foreseable future because I just don't have time to watch many games on my laptop with a small child around, not if I want to stay married, anyway.

            2. I think it's only really unreliable if you compare it to cable TV, which practically always works. That's a pretty high bar to meet.

              Regarding team-specific subscriptions, I actually think they could get people to pay even more for team-specific subscriptions with no blackouts. Some people might even drop cable if they could do that, which saves an easy $50/month, especially with devices like Apple TV that allow you to stream straight to your television. $300/year for all the Twins games, live and available on delay, would probably be pretty popular. Back when I had mlb.tv, even though I could theoretically watch other teams, I rarely did in practice. I probably would have paid the same price for just the Twins games, even if I had to put up with the occasional blackout for a national broadcast.

              1. My Samsung flatscreen and BluRay player both have an MLB app that you can install that I assume allows streaming the MLB TV feed right to your TV.

                1. Yes it does. I've got the same thing on my Roku. Unfortunately you have to get MLB.tv Premium for it to work. They do allow you to pay monthly ($20 for standard, $25 for Premium), which I'll be doing this year while I catch up from being out of work for six weeks.

                  As for reliability, I've had much more issues with the reliability of my own Internet than the stream for mlb.tv. What I really like is being able to start the game from the beginning whenever I want. Being on the West Coast, a lot of games start before I get home. I used to have to pay for XM radio to listen on the way home and then watch when I got home. Now, I just start it from the beginning when I get home. It allows me to skip to the start of any half-inning, so I can save time by skipping the break between innings.

  6. Wow, Champions league game ManU v. Real Madrid is getting good. Madrid scored an own goal for a ManU lead but now a ManU defender gets a questionable red card. 30 minutes to play and ManU has to defend with 10 players.

    1. There's a lot of whiny comments about that not being a red card, but nobody at Fox Soccer seems to remember that this is a European competition and not the Premier League. If you go for the flying karate kick and get a guy in the ribs in Europe it's a red card, no matter the intent.

Comments are closed.