America, I cut LaVar and Maggie |

America, I cut LaVar and Maggie

The basis of the show is that a final group of 12 contestants were chosen bwy ESPN from regional competitions around the U.S. Those 12 contestants must prove to a panel of four judges and America (in theory, the fifth judge) that they have what it takes to be the next SportsCenter (ESPN’s nightly sports news show) anchor. Each week, one or two contestants are cut as the field will eventually be narrowed down to a single winner.

For the most part, the show is entertaining, with arguably the most well-known and vibrant SportsCenter anchor Stuart Scott acting as the host. It’s a great show and a great idea, but after four episodes, I have some definitive qualms about Dream Job.

Going into Sunday’s fifth installment of Dream Job, half of the original cast remains. Let me first say that I respect the courage of the contestants and couldn’t do as well as they have in a million years, but ESPN has made two glaring mistakes thus far.

First, there is one contestant that remains that demonstrates perfectly the ridiculousness of our politically correct society – contestant Maggie Haskins, a 21-year-old student at Brown University who grew up in Chicago, should have been cut long ago. But after she fell off the tight rope last Sunday after America had cast its 20 percent worth of a vote, she was scooped up in the safety net made up a panel of judges that couldn’t cut her just because she is a woman.

Now, I am not one of those machismo guys who thinks that women do not belong in the sports reporting world (or other male-dominated fields). When I watch SportsCenter and Linda Cohn or other women anchors are reporting, I don’t bat an eye. I’ve never once thought that a woman can’t do that job, and Cohn is one of the best in the business.

Maggie Haskins, on the other hand, is a horrible anchor. That’s the issue. Her bad performance has nothing to do with her being female, but her place in the top six does, and it’s unfortunate.

Two out of 12 of the original cast of characters were women. After the first woman, Lori Rubinson (who was better than Haskins in my humble opinion), was cut in Episode Three, the judges were left in a difficult predicament – can they cut the only woman left? Now they are allowing the only remaining woman to miss the cut that she rightfully deserves. As a consequence, this means one other more deserving person is cut each week.

How long will they let it go on? The top four? The final two? Will Haskins win only because she is a woman? After America had spoken (America gets to vote through the Internet and touch tone phones) and rejected Haskins, she couldn’t even hide the fact that she was inevitably going to cry if she was eventually cut. As Tom Hanks, the manager in “A League of Their Own,” said to a player on his all-women baseball team, “There’s no crying in Baseball!” In the same spirit, there should be no crying on Dream Job. Rubinson, even though visibly upset, did not cry when she exited the stage.

Haskins was spared because of her emotion and her gender, and it’s just not right. If there is any justice in this world, the judges must put an end to this madness on Sunday. Haskins does not have the voice or the demeanor to be a successful anchor, and she proved she is only as mature as her age when she began crying at the very thought of being cut (the first judge in the panel cut her, but the other three spared Haskins).

Speaking of the judges, therein lies my second problem with the show. Al Jaffe, ESPN’s Vice President of Talent, and Tony Kornheiser, one half of ESPN’s informative and entertaining show Pardon The Interruption, make the most sense. Kit Hoover, who stars on ESPN2’s morning show Cold Pizza, is tolerable, but too compassionate toward the contestants. Even Hoover, herself a woman, said that Haskins sounded like a “little girl” on her voice over. This was in contrast to Hoover’s usually overly sensitive remarks.

But it’s the big dufus named LaVar Arrington that I just can’t fathom. The four-year Washington Redskins Linebacker proves all the jocko dumb-guy stereotypes correct with his almost non-responsive answers on Dream Job. For a guy who can’t even intelligently explain why he is cutting a contestant, I can’t understand how he got picked for the “job” in the first place. Arrington, 25, routinely stumbles when called upon to explain himself, and it’s difficult to give any credibility to his opinions. He often repeats what Tony K. and Hoover have said before him.

Arrington has got to go. Just finish the show without him. Arrington is a durable and outstanding linebacker on the football field, but the man does not belong on any panel in which he makes up 20 percent of a decision that has life-altering consequences for 12 people.

By the way, I’m pulling for Zacharia Selwyn, who, like a hopelessly romantic man trying to woo a woman, trimmed his hair in hopes he will win Dream Job. Good luck, Zach. I’ve cut my hair many times for the same sort of reasons, so I completely understand. But I never “won,” and my gut feeling says Zach won’t either.

Good riddance Owens

The day has come to rejoice, 49ers fans. The man who dropped more passes than any “great” receiver I ever watched, is finally gone – gone to the Philadelphia Eagles, after crying and getting his self-absorbed way. The Baltimore Ravens might be upset now, but they will soon realize that the football gods have done them a huge favor. Owens is not worth the hassle. He never led the 49ers to a Super Bowl in his eight years, so he can’t be that good. Yes, he made the “Catch II” (against the Packers), but we all get lucky sometimes. Owens has dropped so many passes and caused so much controversy in the 49ers organization that his failures far outweigh any of his accomplishments on the field.

Personally, I think the Ravens would have been the best option for Owens. For one, the Ravens were able to make it to and win the Super Bowl in their only opportunity a few years ago. The Eagles, in contrast, have lost the last three NFC Championship games and chance has it that they probably won’t make it back – with or without Owens. Finally, Ray Lewis would have been the perfect Owens stabilizer – with Lewis around, Owens would have been pummeled if he ever acted up. Now, just like he knows in his own scattered brain, Owens will get to run rampant in Philly. Are you telling me that that big teddy bear of a quarterback Donovan McNabb is going to slap Owens around? I don’t think so.

Jealous pitchers

are running their mouths

I’ve just about had enough of the steroid accusations in baseball. We all know that baseball players and other athletes have been doing steroids for years. OK, we just don’t know exactly who, but that’s baseball’s issue (not the common man’s) to either find out or come up with a policy that 100 percent prevents the use of steroids in the sport.

The latest accusation was from a Hall of Fame pitcher – former Orioles’ ace and current Orioles’ TV broadcaster Jim Palmer pointing his old, washed up finger at Brady Anderson, who set an Orioles record with 50 homers in 1996. Yes, there is a huge discrepancy in Anderson’s homerun numbers over his career (his second most was 24). But Palmer is just jealous because he could never hit the ball that far. Give Anderson a break, and don’t just throw him into the current “He-men of the league” category that includes Bonds, McGwire and Giambi.

Palmer was quoted as saying, “I don’t know if Brady took steroids. How would I know?” Great defense, Jim. Palmer also made the ingenious observation that Bonds jumped from 49 to 73 in 2001. As if we didn’t know! Thanks, Jim. Palmer likes to talk, that’s all. He is an announcer. It’s hard for these old guys to get media attention these days, you know.

I’ll say it a million times. These guys still have to go out and hit the baseball around the park. So it goes a little farther over the fence. Big deal. Palmer should be glad steroids weren’t around when he pitched. His ERA might have been a bit higher.

Matt Brown is sports and outdoors reporter for the Sierra Sun.

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