The Kings Dancers Photos -- That's Not News

With Leather, written by the very funny Matt Ufford, posted some pictures Monday of a gang of Kings dancers drinking and carousing and such. It was not news value. It was entertainment value. If you read With Leather (in a feed reader if you're at work and don't want to get fired), you know why Matt posted it. Hell, in the post he even wondered if this would become a big enough deal to get the dancers fired, and said that's the drawback to posting them.

The post got spread far and wide. It was at the top of BallHype for a while. (As such, the link appeared in the BallHype widget in the left sidebar.) A reader posted the link in a comment to the Monday Footnotes shortly after WL posted the pictures. Skeets posted it, Deadspin posted it. It was everywhere. If you wanted/needed to see it, you could find it.

I decided not to post it here, even though this is only real Kings blog in the world. As I said, you could find it if you wanted to. I don't regularly link to photos of mostly naked women, and I didn't think an exception was necessary because Kings employees were involved. That's just not the type of site we have here, which isn't an indictment on other sites. Our focus is basketball, and other sites focus on other things. I think you all come here to discuss Kings basketball. (I might be wrong.) And I have nothing against the sites that posted it; it's just not me. (I even talked to Ufford over email about why I wasn't running it. I think he understood.)

Why am I even talking about this? Well, guess what story was more important to News10 last night than the arrest of a man long sought in a drunk-driving hit-and-run which resulted in the death of a teenager? More important than the Clemens story? More important than... the Kings game?

Several members of the Sacramento Kings dance team could face possible disciplinary action from the organization after sexually suggestive photos of team members were posted online.

Unfortunately, News10's not alone. The Bee's Sam Amick indicates the media badgered the team into a formal response.
From chatting with folks in Kings land, they've been cleaning up the mess for two days now, holding meetings on the subject and - when prompted on Wednesday - releasing a statement regarding the issue.

And Sam -- who stayed home for the Memphis-Houston road trip -- did some actual reporting on the matter, talking to sources of KHTK and ascertaining these photos were from last year. I like Sam a lot; I respect the hell out of him as a writer and someone who works his tail off. But why in Hades did he waste his time on this? Why is his post on the subject titled "Dancer debacle"? I mean, he seems to understand this isn't a big deal... but at the same time, he makes it seem like this is a big deal.

THIS IS NOT A BIG DEAL. These women are paid to gyrate in front of 17,000 14,000 12,000 fans every night; in only one of the pictures was their dress anything less than what they wear at center court. I assume Gavin Maloof understands that. I assume whichever VP is responsible for the dancers understands that. I assume Sam understands that. I would assume the producers at News10 understand that... but clearly they don't.

This story spread around the sports blogs because (surprise!) the typical reader of sports blogs is a bored man, age 18-50. You might find the subscriber base of Playboy is similar in demographics. Does that make the story fit for local TV news? No. So News10 wraps it in controversy to justify the reportage.

It was a stupid decision, and now the team has to wring its hands over it because 'By golly, people are mad!' when no one but a jaded producer and a handful of enabling reporters are actually mad, but that producer and those reporters have an inordinate amount of power in today's society because of the ever-decreasing length of our normal attention span and the allure of glowing pictures and surround sound. In print (on the web or on fishwrap), reporters like Amick can add the sentiment that this all doesn't matter. On TV, there's no time for hedging or explanation. If it leads, IT IS IMPORTANT. News10 told you this was a big deal and this is important, and it is not.

In short: Faux-puritanism masquerading as social self-righteousness is a scourge on this modern Earth.

(Game recap at some point in the near future.)

UPDATE: I've gotten a few emails about this, and I wanted to clarify (because it's unclear) that I'm not holding Sam and News10 in the same contempt. Because of a) his medium, and b) his brain, Sam was able to discuss how this isn't a big deal. News10 didn't (although I hear they pulled the story from their 11pm broadcast).

I should also add I still have some raw nerves about the way the local broadcast reporters treated the whole Justin Williams thing. I really don't like the way they cover the local team, if you can't tell.

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