The Wednesday Show Prep

posted by Steve Bortstein -

The top two teams in college basketball squared off last night, and it was Duke who shined brightest on the big stage. Grayson Allen made 7 3-point shots and scored 37 points as top-ranked Duke knocked off 2nd ranked Michigan State 88-81 in the Champions Classic at Chicago. Also 4th ranked Kansas outlasted 7th ranked Kentucky 65-61.

Major League Baseball news

Arizona Diamondbacks skipper Torey Lovullo and Paul Molitor of the Minnesota Twins are the 2017 Manager of the Year Award winners. In his first season with Arizona, Lovullo guided the team to a 93-69 record and into the playoffs for the first time since 2011. With the Twins, Molitor managed the team to an 85-77 record as they became the first club to make the playoffs following a 100-loss season.

The New Rankings are in...

There's gonna be some unhappy people out there.

But know this, a lot is going to change in the coming weeks. Conference title games are just around the corner, and teams like Wisconsin, Auburn, and yes, even Georgia and Ohio State are still in play for the playoffs....

And no, under no circumstances will I even entertain the idea of expanding the playoffs to eight teams.

Until of course it inevitably happens. 

Because nothing makes me happier than knowing that years from now, instead of the fifth best team having cause for consternation and rage is the reality, it will be the ninth best team.

And so on, and so on, and so on... 

Let's just call this what it is... 

A marketing ploy, and a damn good one if they survive the expected and almost routinely anticipated backlash from readers, supposed former readers as well as sponsors of GQ Magazine. 

An argument can be made about the sincerity of this "distinction". Colin Kaepernick didn't earn it because of the protests, he merely became the poster child for a movement, and whether I agree with the directive of the movement, the exploitation of it all has turned the man into a symbol for other businesses to make a name for themselves.

Fear and anger are great motivators, and the folks at GQ as well as its parent company Advance Publications, have clearly decided to take a giant nosedive into the pool of increasing scorn and scrutiny. The fact they're taking a risk of losing sponsors and/or readers is not to be either lauded nor condemned, because the business people involved in this choice knew precisely what was going to happen. 

In fact, they counted on it.  

The same publishing company which also operates Vanity Fair, Vogue & The New Yorker gambled that the "Citizen of the Year" award (by the way, that distinction doesn't appear in any other "Man of the Year" issues dating back to 2014) has made it very clear that citizenship can be defined in a multitude of ways.

I'm not angry at GQ Magazine, or the people behind this decision. Hell, I'm not even going to point a finger or shake my fist at Kaepernick for this. He didn't ask for the distinction. In fact, he's not even quoted in the story celebrating this self-serving little honor. 

But if we're going all-in on the idea of transparency in the media and of accountability in the world of social justice, then we should be in some sort of agreement that this particular distinction reeks of getting in on the hype for the sake of attention, and most important, visibility to the rest of the world, namely through news reports and social media. 

Please don't assume by the tone of this story that I am disrespecting Kaepernick's original intent. I fully support the idea of being an individiual and wanting to bring attention to the myriad issues he's brought up over the course of his time in the NFL and beyond.

But much like the hype surrounding Michael Sam -- who ironically enough, was also featured several years in a GQ Man of the Year issue in 2014 -- this has become less and less a protest as it has a marketing campaign. Sam was guilty of the same thing when his choice to come out as a gay football player was also used as a ploy to get a television show off the ground on the Oprah Winfrey Network.

That plan was later scrapped about as quickly as Sam's career in the NFL played out.

It's no more a play for your attention than that of Papa Johns Pizza or any other entity looking to stir the flames of debate. 

The shame of it all is that Kaepernick is now being used. And while he may or may not be aware of it, the message has been eroding around him for some time. It started to dissolve the moment he told NFL teams and media types that he'd agree to stand for the national anthem if he was obtained off the waiver wire after being released by the San Francisco 49ers at the end of the last football season. 

Colin Kaepernick didn't earn the recognition of "Citizen of the Year", he merely fell into it. And he fell quite a bit, if we're going to be honest about it.

Coming up this morning, we'll chat NFL news and notes with Ryan Van Bibber of SBNationNFL, we'll preview Rams vs. Vikings with Tim Yotter of Scout.com, we'll talk golf news with Ryan Ballengee of GolfNewsNet.com.

There's a lot to do today on FIRST SPORTS. I hope you'll join us. Make your voice heard as well on the FOX tollfree phone lines (866) 345-8255 or on the My Naked Mobile text line at (505) 330-2327.

FIRST SPORTS airs weekdays at 9am-Noon ET on FOX AM1340/93.9FM & on the I Heart Radio app at foxsports1340.com

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