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D.A. On The Syracuse Media Mafia And Our Basketball Team

Not a Syracuse basketball fan? This must be an annoying week for you, Damon Amendolara says

The DA Show
March 21, 2018 - 2:28 pm

Sorry, not sorry. 

What else is there to say? We Syracuse alums are a lot to handle this time of year, especially if our basketball team goes on an unexpected run. We are everywhere in the media, lurking behind microphones and keyboards and cameras. The Newhouse School of Public Communications is one of the most recognizable incubators in the world. And we like our basketball. Actually, we love our basketball. Which means we understand your pain. 

SU hoops is our one common bond aside from snow. And it isn't as fun to discuss whether we beat Albany or Rochester or Buffalo in Lake Effect Pain (although we have made that a black comedy competition as well). We like to share because we are talkers, and we like sports (note our chosen profession). You probably follow some of us on Twitter. You may listen to us on the radio. You likely watch a few of us on television or digital platforms. We are often derisively labeled the Syracuse Mafia in newsrooms across the country. And we can't stop discussing, analyzing and celebrating (when appropriate) our hoops team. 

That's because Syracuse basketball has entered into a bizarre dimension where our private bar room discussion plays out publicly nationwide with annoyed bystanders stuck on the stool next to us. Any bar near any campus in any state, people are likely discussing the local teams. We're no different. Grab an Empire Seasonal at Faegan's or the famous chicken tenders at Tully's, and we're debating the effectiveness of the 2-3 zone, the NBA potential of Tyus Battle, and next season's top-rated recruiting class. We chant, "Let's go Orange!" after big shots, and scream for big March wins. We would also do this for our football team, but for twenty years that program has descended into a pit of mediocrity, and no one takes you seriously if you gloat over Texas Bowl wins. 

Today, very normal conversations about our team are held in a very public sphere among many public personalities, as we hit the mute button on the rest of the sports world for a few minutes. It's quite the modern meta conundrum. We occupy all corners of the sports media, and our job is to analyze, give opinions, and find our inner fandom. So non-Orange fans come to us for the job we do, but our job becomes the worst part about us. It's an MC Escher painting of media being fans in front of the fans looking for media. 

Twitter should probably implement a Syracuse media unfollow button until 24 hours after the Orange tournament elimination. It would save a good number of you some of your sanity. But we're getting 13:1 odds at making the Final Four, which was unthinkable two weeks ago. So pardon us as we freak out a little. 

Jim Boeheim has more than 40 years of experience with this. He has needled and scolded generations of snot-nosed, full-throated student media, who all dream of being in the big leagues, and looking at his powerhouse basketball team as their proving ground. He suffers few fools, most of us sneered at or discounted in embarrassing press conferences. But the good news is Boeheim does that to the professionals too, so we wear it as a badge of honor. It's a purple heart with a microphone or pencil through it. 

But Boeheim must also realize he was born at the perfect time. He holds lordship over a networked, influential nation of opinion makers. His remarkable tenure of instant classics, Final Four runs, and never-ending tournament appearances has coincided with the explosion of sports media. He took over the program three years before ESPN was born, a time when most college basketball games were not televised. SU's ascent paralleled college basketball's own boom. SU was a kingpin in the Big East, a cartel of magnetic rivals, a merry band of must-see personalities creating must-see matchups. 

The timeline is fascinating. Boeheim went to his first Final Four in '87 as cable exploded. Again in '96 as sports radio became a cultural monster. He won his long-sought title in '03 as the internet matured into a machine. He's gone twice again this decade as social media has amplified all voices (including the Syracuse Mafia). Syracuse basketball and student media has become an intertwined self-fulfilling prophecy. Hoops success creates massive attention, which sprouts more classes of prospective student media wanting to come be part of the action. High school kids (especially in the media-centric Northeast) see and hear about the machine Boeheim has built, and we all want a taste. If you've attended SU at anytime since the Carter administration, he's our common thread. 

Syracuse has a garden hose of loud voices with large platforms and big follower counts. You're all in a tough spot. We apologize. We understand how annoying this must be for everyone. But we're not sorry, because we get to love our basketball too. It's why we do this. 


Damon Amendolara, known by his fans as D.A., hosts “The D.A. Show,” from 9:00AM-12:00PM, ET, across the country on the nation’s largest 24/7 major-market radio network. “The D.A. Show” is known for its unique perspective on sports, tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, colorful listener interaction, and candid interviews with athletes and coaches. Amendolara also appears regularly on NFL Network as part of the “NFL Top 10” documentary film series, CBS television and SNY TV. He is a Syracuse University grad and native of Warwick, N.Y.