Friday, December 25, 2009

A couple of Donaghy curiosities for consideration

This is the first of what will likely be several critiques of former NBA referee Tim Donaghy's book and related tour (to be posted here and elsewhere).  Any further clarifications to his media appearances - and/or to my assessments of them - are heartily welcomed.
  • When Donaghy was interviewed on the "Boomer and Carton" program (WFAN The Fan, New York) on December 8, 2009, he stated, "Between December 12th and March 18th, the time that I was associated with (pro gambler and co-conspirator Jimmy Battista)...I was only scheduled and only worked 33 games."1  He repeated the claim two days later on Mike Missanelli's program (97.5 The Fanatic, Philadelphia).2  According to and elsewhere, Donaghy actually worked 39 games within that crucial time period.  This is a trivial point to casual followers, I suppose, but is not to those investigating the scandal, as will be explained in time.
  • Donaghy's original claims re: "the mob" were restricted to having heard a rumor from his "true friend" (and co-conspirator) Tommy Martino that Martino's longtime best friend Jimmy Battista was somehow "connected" to organized crime.  This quickly morphed into Battista matter-of-factly being referred to by Donaghy as a "mob associate".  The escalation and sensationalism has continued throughout the book tour, unfortunately, where Donaghy has routinely referred to Battista and Martino as "mob associates".  Most troubling, at least for those trying to get the story right, on at least one occasion he referred to them as "members of the Gambino crime family"3 and on another permitted Battista to be labeled as "a member of the Gambino crime family."4  As my students and academic colleagues will attest, I am hyper-sensitive to the mythology that dominates my niche research area.  Tragically, though not surprisingly, this book tour - complete with loaded terms being tossed around with abandon by Donaghy and by numerous hosts and analysts - is but the latest exhibition in the social construction of organized crime.  Necessarily, this set of circumstances perpetuates conspiracy myths that are commonly rooted in nothing more than street legends.  In the immediate case, I am guessing part of the problem stems from the forums being exploited, namely sports-centered outlets with little expertise (or care, for that matter) regarding the substance and validity of the "mob" claims.
1. At approx. 22:20 of the interview. 
2. At 13:10 of the interview.
3. Dan Le Batard Show, 790am "The Ticket" (Miami), 12/9/09, at :48 of the interview.
4. Mayhem in the AM Show, 790am "The Zone" (Atlanta), 12/8/09, at 7:23 of the interview.