q sports panel on Lebron James and the Oscar-worthy dive

q's sports culture panel thinks beyond the play-by-play to weigh in on the societal impact of sports stories.
Toronto Raptors' James Johnson collides with Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James during the first half of Game 5 of the NBA basketball Eastern Conference finals on Wednesday. (Tony Dejak/The Associated Press)

q's sports culture panel thinks beyond the play-by-play to weigh in on the societal impact of sports stories. Not a fan? Not a problem. Our panel watches much more than the scoreboard. 

Shad checks in with journalists Dave Zirin, Morgan Campbell, and Sonali Karnick. Today:  

  • NBA's Lebron James and the Oscar worthy dive. "Anybody who hates Lebron is using this as their fuel," says Sonali. Dave says soccer's influence is rubbing off on basketball. "The virus is spreading. And once Lebron does it, it's gold plated." 

    (Plus, here are ordinary citizens demonstrating flopping, and comedians The Brampton Boys.) 
  • Baseball great Tony Gwynn's family files lawsuit against big tobacco. Morgan says the family claims the companies made a conscious effort to "target Tony as a rising star," getting him hooked on smokeless tobacco to market to a new population. "[Chewing tobacco or dipping] is still a part of baseball culture" says Dave. "What this is all about is addiction being passed down through the generations." 

    Baseball Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn died of oral cancer in 2014, a disease he attributed to years of chewing tobacco, when he was 54. (Lenny Ignelzi/Associated Press)

  • The marketing wizards behind a rash of minor league name changes — like the Rumble Ponies, the Stud Muffins, the Rubber Ducks, the Iron Pigs. "They want these names to be polarizing," says Sonali. "Small clubs in small cities ... want to make a lasting impression." Morgan says it's important to tie weird names to local peccadillos, otherwise: "the problem is the more unique names you have, the less unique the name is." 



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