Poor sports in a plain brown wrapper


Tuesday witnessed the gratuitous intrusion of politics on the Tulsa Whirled's sports pages. Dave Sittler, once a key member of the team that produced the city's best sports section in the late lamented Tulsa Tribune, has now been reduced to inserting irrelevant criticism of local politicians into his column:

STILLWATER -- You're familiar with the "Gang of Five," right?

No, not that city council Clown Band that seems hell bent on stunting Tulsa's growth. The group I'm referring to doesn't pose as serious a threat as those five 20th century-thinking city council members, who apparently would like to turn Vision 2025 into Vision 1925.

The Clown Band plays in the real world, which in this case they've turned into a five-ringed circus of nasty politics. Here in journalism's "Toy Department," we deal with the games that people are supposed to play for fun.

"Clown band"? It's obvious that Sittler hasn't done any original thinking here. He's just parroting phrases he's heard from Ken Neal and the rest of the inhabitants of the rubber room that houses the Whirled's editorial board.

I figure someone on the top floor thought, "We have some readers who only read the sports section. We need to make sure we properly indoctrinate them as well. Have Sittler insert some irrelevant slams at the Council majority. Better yet, send Sittler home and have a copy editor cut and paste a few grafs from an old Ken Neal editorial."

Or does this opening reflect Sittler's own view of the conventional wisdom? Ordinarily, you don't want to alienate half of your readers before you even get to your topic. Would Sittler open a column with some crack about Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard? Or some snide reference to Kerry's Purple Heart Band-Aids? Political humor usually finds its way to the sports page or the comics page once a characterization has become generally accepted as accurate. If Sittler believes that all of his readers have contempt for the Council's bipartisan Reform Alliance majority, he needs to get out more.

Forget the fact that it repeats inaccurate charges that apply more to the Councilors' critics than it does to them: How rude of the Whirled to inflict their political opinions on people who just want to relax and read about college football.

As Councilor Chris Medlock quipped on KFAQ Tuesday morning: "Penalty on the offense. Unneccessary roughness. Piling on. 15 yards and loss of subscription."

Elsewhere in the sports section, we see evidence that the Whirled is becoming more desperate for ad revenue, resulting in another unwelcome intrusion on the sanctity of the sports section. An alert reader pointed me to Tuesday's scoreboard page -- click here then scroll down to the lower right.

Here's the text of the ad starts off this way:

Sex Education For Me?

Know-How is Still the Best Aphrodisiac

(As Seen On TV)

There’s No Such Thing as a “Born Lover”!

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America’s Best-selling Sex-Ed Videos. The Better Sex Video Series visually demonstrates and explains how everybody can enjoy better sex. Dr. Linda Banner, one of the country’s most respected experts on sexuality, guides you through erotic scenes of explicit sexual practices including techniques for the most enjoyable lovemaking ever! Order The Better Sex videos today and take the first step to more enjoyment!

Shipped Unmarked For Your Privacy

All of our videos are shipped in plain packaging to assure your privacy.


Advanced Sexual Positions, our new 30-minute video, is guaranteed to increase your lovemaking pleasure. Great Sex 7 Days A Week shows you even more creative ways to enjoy intimacy. Get both videos FREE when you order today!

As Seen On TV

I don't know anything about this product other than what is presented in the ad. I think it's fine for a husband and wife to seek information on how to please each other, and there are some helpful Christian books (like this one) which provide good information without being prurient.

But the issue here is not the product -- and the ad is relatively tasteful as these things go -- but where it's being advertised. There's an old cliche -- "This is a family newspaper" -- that reflects a commitment to making the newspaper something you could safely leave out for anyone in the family to read. In days gone by, more lurid issues were discussed in euphemistic terms that were clear enough for those old enough to think about such matters. And broadsheet dailies made a point of shunning ads that weren't suitable for children to see -- that's why ads for those sorts of things ended up in the alternative weeklies.

So the Whirled is now advertising products that arrive in plain brown wrappers. What's next? Escort services and strip clubs? If this keeps up, will we be able to tell the difference between the Whirled and Urban Tulsa? The Whirled's ad revenue must be plummeting, and it couldn't happen to a nicer bunch.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on September 30, 2004 8:40 AM.

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More on the Reform Alliance town hall meeting is the next entry in this blog.

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