Aloha, Leahey And Maybe NCAA
Wednesday - May 25, 2011
If Oceanic Cable is planning to use Jim Leahey in its coverage of UH athletics, no one is saying anything. OK, no one is saying anything to me. But if the Rainbow’s thrilling May 15 victory over San Jose was, in fact, his last, and what a way to go out, it will further signal the continued erosion of a career field that was once more craft that commercialism, more melodious than manic.
Whether as Jim Leahey or his wisecracking alter ego Kimo Leahi, he brought an intelligence to his broadcasts and commentary that have sadly grown out of favor in the modern world of sports broadcasting. It seems that everyone has to be either a complete homer or a seething bottle of rage just waiting to expose the indefensible weakness of the next pitcher who dares surrender a four-pitch walk.
Leahey proved there is more to calling a game than regurgitating stats and spouting cliches. A voracious reader, he brought a command of the English language and storytelling that are hallmarks of announcers who have now, sadly, mostly passed.
Consultants may argue otherwise. I’ve sat in some of those meetings. It’s 9:15 and never quarter after the hour of nine o’clock. Always use active voice even if a passive voice is able to create more emotion. Never speak above the supposed intelligence of your listeners, dumb it down.
To some, Leahey is Hawaii’s Harry Carry or Jack Buck. Perhaps a better comparison is to Chick Hearn, the Lakers’ cheerleader and critic. Leahey has never hidden his passion for all things UH nor have the name changes, uniforms, coaching moves or the dis-repair of upper campus escaped his wrath.
This is not to say Oceanic will have suffered upon Leahey a great injustice if they don’t decide to lengthen his distinguished career. Change is always difficult and always necessary. Most seem to agree that his son Kanoa is most likely to take over at least some of the broadcasting. Regardless of family succession, Kanoa has proven his talent and the ability to handle the added responsibility.
What the senior Leahey may do if not hired by OC-16 is anyone’s guess. Perhaps he’ll finally train that nasty little mutt he and Kanoa keep chained outside their PBS set. Vicious little bugger he is. But if we may ask one request before he goes, write it down.
Perhaps no one has had a better view of UH athletics over the years than he, and it would be a disservice not to share his insight into sports, politics and perhaps a little poetry thrown in for amusement.
While this is hardly a eulogy, if he broadcasts no more, we can easily say congratulations on a job well done. To quote another wordsmith of note:
For when the One Great Scorer comes to mark against your name, He writes - not that you won or lost - but how you played the Game.
Kimo has played it well.
Call it the first nail in the FBS coffin.
Last week Big Ten members discussed an idea that would take a portion of their TV money and put it toward paying athletes a stipend to cover incidental costs such as travel, clothes and laundry. Current scholarships cover room, board and tuition which, according to studies, is between $2,000 to $5,000 a year less than the entire cost of attending college. The cost of such a program could add up to $500,000 to an athletic department’s budget for just football and men’s basketball, which are likely the only athletes to benefit from such a plan. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany has thrown the gauntlet down on smaller schools, basically saying keep up or get out.
“How do we get back more toward the collegiate model and a regulatory system that is based more on student-athlete welfare than it is on a level playing field, where everything is about a cost issue and whether or not everybody can afford to do everything everybody else can do?” questioned the commish.
In 1973 the NCAA split its ranks into three divisions and five years later the top tier was further divided into 1 and 1A. The time for another split is coming, and the NCAA can do nothing about it.
The BCS was created for the sole purpose of maintaining a level of power and exclusion.
Faced with possible lawsuits and congressional inquiry, the Big Six conferences and Notre Dame are searching for ways to protect their monopoly.
They may have just found it.
Implementing such a spending plan would require a majority vote of D-1 members, and the big boys just don’t have the votes, which is to their benefit. Without the support of the other D-1 members, the Six can claim unfair practices of their own as the reason for either exiting the NCAA or forcing it to create a top tier division made up of just the biggest and best.
Of course, they will have some Title IX issues to work out, but there are enough lawyers and accountants in Ann Arbor, Chicago and Columbus to find a way around that problem and to further reduce the importance of a college education.
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