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Stateside with Rosalea: A Sporting Chance

Stateside with Rosalea Barker

A Sporting Chance

::USA! USA!::

I don't quite know who I made the deal with on Saturday afternoon as I set off for my exercise just after the USA-Italy football game began on ABC: "If I swim three widths of the pool without stopping, USA will beat Italy in the World Cup". I suspect it was one of El Diablo's minions on the other side of the contract, for who else but a being with an impish sense of humour would allow USA to draw with Italy by having Italy score their goal for them?

There is a real drive here to move futbol up into the major league, so to speak, of sports broadcasting, but I can't see it ever happening. The whole point of soccer is that it flows quickly and freely, which means there are no breaks in which to stuff ads, whereas American football--with its set plays and constant stopping of the clock--is the perfect product to be played either side of commercial breaks.

::Is it okay that I cheered for Oz?::

The Australia-Brazil match aired on Sunday morning, and I watched it from start to finish. I know that true Kiwi patriots are supposed to cheer for two teams only--the All Blacks and anyone playing Australia--so I'll just say that I thought the guys in gold and green WERE the Aussies so I cheered for their opponents!

::Hey, mister! You're blocking the screen::

Last week the sports editor/anchor on the Bay Area's local KRON4 TV news said that the reason he didn't like all the fuss being made about the World Cup was that it was just a patriotism thang, in which most fans didn't know anything whatsoever about the teams who were playing. Whereas he liked to follow the careers of individual players, as he can with American football and the other two major sports in the US: baseball and basketball.

Ahem! The reason you can't follow the individual players' careers in football is that television sports editors--such as yourself--have long ago decided for whatever reason not to cover the sport at a local level. Is that because the skills and dedication of the players is any less than that of those who play in the big three US sports? No. It's because of a sportsroom logic that goes: A real sport is one where I recognise and admire the players of the game. I don't recognise and admire the players of soccer. Soccer is not a real sport, therefore I shall not allow them to become recognisable and admired.

::Say it isn’t so, and it won’t be::

But an even more stunning interference is being played out here in the Bay Area over the results of the Oakland mayoral election. Hand-counting of the provisional ballots was completed late Friday night, just as the 10 o'clock news bulletin on KTVU was about to end. They managed to squeeze in the news that one candidate had inched over the 50-percent-plus-1 minimum needed to avoid the run-off.

A couple of other channels with 11 o'clock news bulletins were able to flesh that out a bit more and say that the person with the next largest number of votes--and the potential run-off contender in November--had congratulated his rival but hadn't conceded. Indeed, on Saturday morning, the potential run-off contender made a brief statement to the press saying:

"This morning I called Ron Dellums to congratulate him and to pledge that I will continue working very hard on those issues that got me into this mayor's race. I was not prepared to make an announcement this morning. I know that he is having a press conference early on Monday.

"My plan was always to have a press conference with my supporters, and that will be the case at 5.30 at headquarters on Monday. I will not answer any questions at this point. I think that I'm going to give Mr Dellums the privilege of having his press conference on Monday, and then I will explain what my official plans are."

It's now Sunday, and even the news channel that has that video in its entirety on its website now has an accompanying story saying that "Speaking to reporters from the back porch of his Oakland home, De La Fuente confirmed that he placed a concession call to Dellums, but refused to answer any questions."

I'm sorry. But where exactly in that statement is he conceding? It is the Dellums camp that has interpreted De La Fuente's call of congratulations as a concession. I'll be very surprised if there is no challenge to the vote. Although the national media has paid no attention to it, I predict that the Oakland mayoral race of 2006 will be one of the pivotal US elections of the 21st century, because it has so many important aspects to it.

First, there is the question of the use of paper ballots using scan technology from Sequoia instead of the Diebold touchscreen electronic voting machines that Alameda County has used for the past few elections. Then there is the question of what difference an Instant Run Off election would have made to the results. Not to mention the fact that Dellums hasn't lived in Oakland for decades but was drafted into the race by folks in the Oakland Hills who didn't think that De La Fuente's original opponent, Nancy Nadel, was going to get enough votes.

Although local elections in the US are supposedly non-partisan, you see here plainly the influence that the same old, same old brigade of the Democratic Party thinks it has a God-given right to exert over the electoral landscape.



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