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Lou Pickney's Online Commentary

Symbolism over Substance

Monday
September 1, 2014

College football season is back, and I for one am thrilled. Cable television has wisely wrapped itself tightly around the sport, enticing customers to demand their networks in order to see the games. It can get a bit ridiculous, as it has with the single-school focused Longhorn Network. But ESPN hit the gold mine with the SEC Network, and if my Twitter feed is any indication of how much demand there is for top-level college football, leveraging multiple brands in an effort to maximize the channels in play for fans is a winning move.

Of course, long-term internet stream threatens to antiquate cable technology, something the monolith utility companies know very well, which can make for an uneasy partnership. Things like the WatchESPN app, much like HBO Go and other streaming services, are helping more and more people see that there doesn't have to be a middle man. That hasn't reached critical mass, not yet. But someday it will.

Oh, and for those of you who prefer the pro game, the NFL regular season begins on Thursday. There's something for everyone to enjoy. I would write more, but I'm compulsively checking Twitter every few minutes for NFL news with my ADHD in full effect, plus I want to save some material for Draft King. Believe me, I have plenty to say.

One addendum: I didn't waste my money on the new Madden NFL 15 video game, but one hilarious glitch is rookie LB Christian Kirksey being in the game at a height of 1'2". Yep, he looks like he should be riding a petite lap giraffe into the stadium, and I'm not sure why he's on the Titans when he was a third-round pick by the Browns, but it's good for a laugh if nothing else. In reality the guy is my size, listed in real life at 6'2" 233, only (unlike me) with NFL-caliber strength and speed.

In non-sports related matters, I've been wanting to write about my disdain for the "Ice Bucket Challenge" on here for some time now, but everything I came up with sounded too angry and/or mean-spirited -- and that's not what I wanted. Thankfully, the great Lance Storm wrote this column that summed it up much better than I was able to do while also tying it to Big Pharma. Well done.

Also, if you want to talk about a real challenge involving cold water, try going a week with only that running through your pipes. That was my reality in the first week here in my apartment in Columbus, and I assure you it's not pleasant. At all.

But back to the greater issue that Storm brought up, some truths are difficult to deliver without drawing residual heat on yourself. Ask rhetorical questions about how much, say, Susan G. Komen actually raises by percentage for breast cancer research and you risk facing severe backlash. It's easy to appear that you are against a charitable effort when you are in fact simply pushing for *more* of the money donated to that effort to actually go to it.

Never forget: it's easier to win with emotions than facts, even in the face of logic. And in conjunction with that, never underestimate the strength of symbolism over substance.

My brother Matt and his wife, Jenica, are going to have their second child any day now. Benjamin, which will be my soon-to-be-born nephew's name, was due yesterday and hasn't yet arrived despite this being Labor Day (a ha ha, a ha ha ha). I'm hoping to get down to Nashville whenever he is born to meet him and visit with friends/family, but my schedule is a bit complicated for the next couple of weeks. But, sooner or later, I'll be there.


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