WILTW: The media's COVID-19 problem, Tom Brady, NBA's big opportunity

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Gather ‘round, rascals. Come in and make yourself comfortable. I have an important question for you.

Am I even in the media if I’m not screaming at peasants to stay inside their (tiny) dwellings, or sending out “gentle reminders” explaining how much more I know about coronavirus than you?

Not to pick on Charlotte, who is a national correspondent at Time, but her Tweet embodies what the American media has unfortunately become: Juvenile, pompous and lordly. This, I think, is at the core of the public’s waning trust. Up until Twitter came along, every piece of content Joe Public got from media types was first approved by an editor or producer. We saw only the polished version of journalists and hosts, and it created a veneer of trust. Social media changed that (and some would argue the birth of talking head TV). Now, bias, immaturity, and brashness all come through to millions, unedited.

Take NY Times tech journalist Sarah Jeong, who tweeted #cancelwhitepeople back in 2014.

Am I offended? Not in the slightest, but Jeong is an acute example of how the veil of professionalism the media used to have is wearing off.

I don’t think Charlotte Alter is wrong about people staying inside, by the way. The problem is, she comes off as just another snobby coastal journalist lecturing from her ivory tower. When you come off like that, it doesn’t matter how good your argument is, people are going to tune you out.

In this way, the media has set themselves up for failure in the event of a pandemic. They’ve spent so long patronizing the masses, the masses don’t take their calls for social distancing seriously. Look around. Nobody’s doing it. The entire city of Phoenix operated like normal this weekend. Whether the press likes it or not, it’s going to take a strong statement from Trump, or a government imposed shutdown like the one Dr. Anthony Fauci alluded to today, for the public to take social distancing seriously.

If a shutdown does happen, I will use my spare time to hone my journalism skills. I will vehemently discourage my dog from licking the bed, and I will make sure he knows how much more civilized I am for cleaning myself in the shower, rather than licking myself. Maybe then, I will be a credentialed member of the media.

In the meantime, let’s get to what I learned this weekend

I think Tom Brady is going to Tampa Bay – Tom Brady has made it abundantly clear that, just like my dog, who is the cutest dog in the world, he just wants a belly rub and some new toys. He’s endured years of being treated as just a cog in the Belichick machine, including pay cuts and film-session-berating, and he wants Bill to acknowledge that he’s not just a bolt, he’s a wrench. He also wants a say in personnel decisions. Yet, when they finally talked on the phone a few weeks ago, Belichick treated it like just another negotiation.

My theory is that Belichick will use this scenario to set the ultimate “Patriot way” precedent. He doesn’t create hierarchies within the roster, even for 6x Super Bowl champion Tom Brady. It’s what endears players to him, even as he treats them like replaceable parts to a car. What better feeling, as a third string cornerback, than knowing that you will be treated exactly the same way as Tom freakin’ Brady? So, what I’m trying to say is that Belichick won’t give Brady the belly rubs and toys he wants.

But there is a coach who will.

Tom Brady, meet Bruce Arians.

Everyone knows about the Bucs’ weapons. O.J. Howard, Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, all in their primes. But what may be most attractive to Brady is Arians, who is beloved by his former quarterbacks, and who has gotten the best of an aging quarterback in the past. Arians gave Carson Palmer his most productive years, and the two developed a bond along the way. That bond is something Brady will never have with Belichick, and after six rings, it could be what Brady is chasing more than anything as he finishes off his career.

Even though everything I just said was incredibly smart and well-thought out (duh), I have to admit that the thought of Brady leaving New England for the team once known for their creamsicle look seems implausible.

The NBA should use the COVID-19 stoppage to innovate – Well, this could take a while.

But, it could also be great for the future of the league. In early March, Hawks CEO Steve Koonin suggested pushing the start of the NBA season back to December to avoid the NFL season. If the NBA finishes in August this season, it gives the league the perfect excuse to experiment with that idea next season.

While they’re at it, they should go ahead and cut 20 games out of the schedule. If this pandemic is teaching us anything, it’s the value of scarcity. People are craving the NBA right now for the first time ever. We love the NFL, but we only like the NBA, for the same reason many people grow to like their long-term partners. We see too much of them, and eventually the novelty wears off.

The NBA sells quantity over quality, but quantity has never had less value than in 2020. Why? Because Netflix, Amazon Prime, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok have an endless supply of content. It used to be that the quantity of NBA games was a rare selling point. But in the world of endless attention-getters, quality is the only thing that keeps content providers alive. The NBA would be smart to cut down on inventory and focus on building organic paths for the best teams to play each other more.

A dating app for traffic lights – This is an idea young Matthew had driving around the streets of New Hampshire, high as Josh Gordon. As a 17-year-old, I had an especially large affinity for weed and women. These days I’m sober and off the market, but earlier this week I was stopped at a light, and the idea came flooding back.

What if there were a dating app that popped up only at stoplights, and gave you and the person next to you 5 seconds to simply hit “yes,” or “no”?

The premise is simple. Everyone checks out the people next to them in traffic, and there’s virtually no way to ask somebody out given the time constraints and physical impediments. The best part? No commitments, baby. If you both hit “yes,” there’s no commitment to try and work something out between the two of you right in that moment, because when the light turns green, you’re forced to drive off. Think of how cool you’d feel in that moment! On the other hand, if you’re rejected, or if you must do the rejecting, the awkwardness only lasts a minute at most.

Where to eat – We skipped out on social distancing for a moment this weekend, and I think it was absolutely worth it. I’ll let you know after my incubation period is over.

Morning Glory Café at The Farm at South Mountain: This place is awesome. It’s about 10 minutes from downtown Tempe, but you’d think you were in Napa Valley. They raise their own turkeys and chickens, grow all their own vegetables, and use all their home-grown ingredients in all their three restaurants.

We went to Morning Glory Café for breakfast, and ordered the B.E.S.T. Breakfast Sandwich, Brioche French Toast and Biscuits and Gravy. There is something awesome about walking past the food you’re about to eat while it grows on the vine, and the taste lived up to the feel of the place. If you like knowing where your food comes from, and want a complete dining experience, you have to give this place a shot.

Your dose of COVID-19 sports-replacement content

Thanks for reading, folks. I hope everyone stays safe and makes it work financially during this incredibly trying time. I hope WILTW provided some much-needed, and thought-provoking entertainment.

If you’d like to email me a question, idea, or funny story, shoot me a message at whatilearnedthisweekend@gmail.com

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