Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Why I Still Read the New York Times: A Question of Culture

99% of the sports news/commentary I digest on daily basis lives online. And 90% of this comes from blogs - all 78 of them that comb religiously - whose voices range from tongue and cheek to truly depraved (for the record, I couldn't be happier about this). However, everyday I consciously make the effort to pick up a printed copy of the New York Times sports section. Some media pundits look at this sort of media consumption and cite it as an example of why traditional print media will never die. They'll say that people desire that tactile experience of having something in their hand, and will never get tired of getting their fingers in there and getting dirty with their news. This argument is nothing if not sexually repressed.

Here's an example of why I actually read the New York Times everyday. Times reporter Katie Thomas featured a story today on cockfighting in the Dominican Republic (A Question of Culture, Dominicans Say Cockfighting Is in Their Blood); she got top billing on D1 over the Clemens/McNamee debacle/fiasco.

This story comes on the heels of the reports that former and current MLB players Juan Marichal and Pedro Martinez are prominently involved in the cockfighting institution of D.R. In fact, Marichal oversaw the sport when he served as the Minister of Sports in the Dominican during the 1990s. And the owner of the club in Pedro's native neighborhood said that Martinez was a regular at his establishment. Another current Dominican ballplayer, Aramis Ramirez, is featured in an issue of En La Traba, a Dominican cockfighting magazine.

According to Thomas' story, cockfighting dates back to 1492 when Christopher Columbus, and the fighting roosters he had with him, landed on what would become the Dominican Republic. Currently, there are 1500 cockfighting arenas (or galleras) recognized by the National Commission of Cockfighting. The fighters are bred from mothers with a history of breeding strong competitors, and their diet regimens include vitamins and antibiotics. During the matches, the bets are thrown out verbally like a Wall Street trading floor (never recorded, but honored meticulously). And police man the entrances to the arenas, checking guns (not checking for guns, like coat-checking, except its weapons).

The Dominican people defend cockfighting saying its part of the culture. Or they say that they have better things to worry about, like that 40% of the pop. lives below the poverty line (sure, fair enough). These arguments would have had Vick's lawyers sans testiclees singing Soprano.

I have two words for Dominican cockfighting: Jet. Blue. Seriously, where do I need to go? I read the story, and I can't get Little Jerry Seinfeld out of my mind. I'm visualizing BloodSport, BloodSport II: The Next Kumite, BloodSport IV: The Dark Kumite. I'm enthralled.

Well done, Katie Thomas. Vacation. Destination.

Now back to real world of reading and sport. Rumors and Rants has a post about a run-in with Julie "the Cat" Gaffney, and Randball has a Q&A with The Human Highlight Reel.

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