The writing on (and off) the wall: What kind of foundation is L.A.’s Arena on as one sizes up what’s going on in Miami?

Tom Hoffarth /

How much are you invested yet – financially, emotionally, intellectually or otherwise — in

Considering it’s still fresh in our minds how the cuddly super-sized arena in downtown L.A. just abandoned a loyal partner to have its naming rights changed, it might be penny-wise to see how miscalculations are heating up in Miami these last few weeks.

The FTX Arena, home of the NBA’s Miami Heat, needs a quick fix.

A crypto currency company that just last year pledged Miami-Dade County some $135 million to add its name to the marquee for 19 years, plus give $5 million toward local causes concerning a reduction of gun violence, is now bankrupt.

It gave the county some $20 million up front for the first two years and the check has cleared apparently. A $5.5 million installment is due in less than two months.

Talk to the CEO, who resigned amidst a massive missive of social media mea culpas.

The custodians who run the place — it opened in 1999, same year as L.A.’s Staples Center, with the seemingly secure American Airlines Arena title in place — said they’re immediately dropping the FTX name and are “extremely disappointed.”

The people making these decisions shall remain nameless.

Due diligence and some common sense in how dollars are created out of thin air and then dispersed might be helpful.

“Crypto collapses have become par for the course,” Will Gottsegen writes in The Atlantic. “But now, crypto feels less ready for the mainstream than it has in years. Even as crypto slunk into a bear market in recent months, there was still the dream of crypto as it was originally conceived in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis: Part of the blockchain’s raison d’être lay in cutting out greedy bankers and creating greater trust between transacting parties. Now, in 2022, the crypto markets are controlled by an industry that’s proved time and time again just how similar to the existing financial system it really is.”

There’s that, and there’s the advice we once got from broadcaster Al Michaels, famous for his financial acumen. He suggested whenever a company in your investment portfolio announces it has spent millions in its marketing budget to buy the naming rights to some sports facility, that’s the moment you sell the stock. They are likely in over their skiis, and the investment will never pay off.

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Yesterday’s news: Egging on ‘Chicken Man’ in Philly

Tom Hoffarth /

A nervous chatter came from the outer region of the local Costco on Sunday afternoon. It started near the display of inflatable rafts, drifted past the frozen meat aisle, circled around the 10-pound jugs of nutmeg and, by the time he made its way around the bakery, it might as well have been the store’s soundtrack.

All the $4.99 rotisserie chickens were gone. And at least a couple dozen oversized shopping carts converged from all corners as if a magnetic force drew them to the empty stainless steel shelving display.

The heat lamps had nothing to heat. There was a chill in the air.

When and where might the new brood arrive? And what is the correct collective noun for a group of these featherless domesticated junglefowl? Flock? Gaggle? Did someone say murder?

A guy in a hairnet (and beardnet) behind the glass kept assembling the toasted birds and the containers, plopping on lids, trying not to notice all eyes fixed on him.

“How many can we get at a time?” a woman in amongst the crowd, who appeared to have no stones to throw, asked aloud to no one.

“Forty” I decidedly blurted out.

A couple near me with a cart already overloaded with cat litter and 100-liter vodka bottles turned to look at what idiot offered the information, and then began devising a plan.

In biblical terms, 40 is big deal. It is mostly meant to metaphorically represent not just a long period of time, but also a test, a trial or a probation.

Why did two chickens cross the road to get onto the ark?

Forty just popped into our head because we just finished reading about this guy in Philly named Tominsky.

The other day, he polished off a run of eating 40 rotisserie chickens. One a day for 40 days and nights.

Holy hotwings.

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Yesterday’s news: Lessons one can still learn on a college campus

Tom Hoffarth /

If you’ve got a few minutes, watch this clip from the sadly short-lived NBC series, “The Richard Pryor Show,” from 1977. In this skit, Pryor is the first U.S. Black president, holding a press conference, fielding questions from a new mix of folks now in the media corp.

We will circle back to this shortly. Lights please:

COMM 387: Sports and Social Change is a four-unit course offered at USC for an hour-and-a-half on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The focus: “Application of critical, sociological and rhetorical theories to sports events and sports media; examination of the role of sports in enacting social change.”

Sign me up.

There’s room for about 100 students in the old Annenberg School of Communication Building Room 204, and it was nearly full when I found my way in, per invitation by Dr. Dan Durbin, the director of the USC Annenberg Institute of Sports, Media and Society.

Julianna Kirschner is the class instructor, and I became part of a panel discussion with ESPN’s Jason Reid and filmmaker Marvin Towns Jr. to talk about issues of sports and social change, particularly race, from the perspective of media members who have documented it over the last 40-plus years.

Towns got into his unique relationship with Muhammad Ali and the impact the heavyweight champ had on so many levels back in the day. He encouraged the students to take their knowledge and talents and move to other parts of the country to help educate others on this subject.

Reid, the senior NFL writer for, has just come out with a new book, “Rise of the Black Quarterback: What It Means For America” (Andscape Books/Buena Vista, 282 pages, $26.99) and could talk about why Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson and Kyler Murray are here today because of the foundation laid by James Harris, Randall Cunningham, Doug Williams decades ago.

He also addressed questions about the pros and cons of Black ownership in the NFL and the effect it might have moving forward. Reid, a ’93 USC grad, has been to the campus already this fall to discuss the book and its subject matter, as well as other important media shows and platforms.

What could I possibly add, as a 60-plus white journalist who grew up in L.A., graduated from USC in ’84 and tried to be a keen (and sometimes caustic) observer of how sports and culture intersected from decade to decade?

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The Sports Media Misery Index: November 2022

Tom Hoffarth /

Our monthly Sports Media Misery Index is a standard check and imbalance of what we’ve loathed, liked or learned from a measured consumption of various media platforms.
Now we regurgitate. Follow along at your own risk.


This 2022 World Series should be remembered years from now as the baptism of broadcaster Joe Davis, preserving his historic calls during what sets up to be an intriguing Houston-Philadelphia match up. The real shame, at least on our end, is we’ve stopped watching since after the first inning of Game 1. And we were even warned.

Maybe that, in a small way, will be information Fox Sports and its parent company can use to better understand why World Series viewership continues on a downward spiral. It has already reported that 11.6 million viewed Game 1 between TV and streaming, and it was 10.9 million on Saturday for Game 2.

Whatever metrics Fox chooses in the end to spin this, it won’t be as fowl as the “Citizens for Sanity” ads.

Fox has apparently no shame in accepting payment for and airing them during the sports’ most important national prime-time exposure. Worse, Major League Baseball remains compliantly silent as well as Commissioner Rob Manfred can’t even man up and address it properly when asked for accountability by media members.

So you may ask – as does the ad – how did we get here?

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The writing on (and off) the wall: Springsteen’s L.A. Grammyland tour … so we’ve gone a little long, like his concerts

Tom Hoffarth /

The opening act at the massive downtown L.A. arena once known as Staples Center on Oct. 17, 1999: Bruce Springsteen’s Reunion Tour with the E Street Band.

The first of four shows, before any Lakers, Kings or other sporting event at the $400 million palace, inspired L.A. Times music critic Robert Hilburn to write:

“At a time when rock ‘n’ roll’s future is once again being questioned, Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band showed Sunday at lavish new Staples Center just how glorious the music can still be. … By the end of the concert, Springsteen had done more than simply stir us once again with his music. He showed why he is such a major figure in the history of rock.”

Three months later, the Grammy Awards ceremony, which had danced around various venues in Southern California from the 1960s to the ’90s, quickly gravitated to Staples Center for its 2000 show. It has been the home base pretty much ever since, where Springsteen has often been present as a performer, a nominee (50 times since 1981) or an award recipient (20 of them since 1985).

His 2003 show-ending rendition of the Clash’s “London Calling” – a tribute to the recently departed Joe Strummer — with Elvis Costello, Dave Grohl and Steve Van Zandt remains one of our favorite mashups of talent and music.

When the Grammy Museum across the street at L.A. Live cleared the second floor for a new exhibit – “Bruce Springsteen Live!” – it seemed like an appropriate as a way to honor New Jersey’s famous son. Dust off some memorabilia and see how it goes.

It actually goes as far as the mind and heart want it to go.

Continue reading “The writing on (and off) the wall: Springsteen’s L.A. Grammyland tour … so we’ve gone a little long, like his concerts”