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I was skimming across my television channels this week, and all I could find, click after click, was reality TV. I found this weird, because I was only inhabiting the sports channels.

I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but the world of sports and low-budget melodrama have bound together in some great, high-decibel singularity. I wonder if we’ll ever be able to separate the two.

On a national level, nothing was more TruTV this week than the whole Greg Schiano fiasco. The University of Tennessee offered Schiano, known primarily for his head coaching stints at Rutgers and with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a similar position in Knoxville. But students and alumni went nuts, launching an impromptu social-media campaign to express their outrage.

It worked. The university rescinded its offer.

It reminded me of a show called “You the Jury” that my friend worked on in LA last year. Real court cases were “tried” by real attorneys in front of a studio audience. But instead of a Judge Judy unilaterally handing down determinations, the audience got to vote on the outcome, and its decisions were binding. Fox financed an entire season of episodes, but aired only two of them.

The Schiano affair was like a coaching search played out before the same audience. They voted, and he lost. The subsequent handwringing — is Schiano a creep who failed to report abuses by Jerry Sandusky at Penn State, or did mob rule claim a respected football coach? — only added to the drama, as has the Volunteers’ inability to find a backup candidate. (Also, if you are able to coach the Volunteers in 2018, please email the UT athletic department with experience and salary demands.)

Locally, the biggest story of the week involved a wide receiver who will miss a game for the Raiders. It wasn’t Amari Cooper, who is in the concussion protocol, because that would be drab. It was Michael Crabtree, who helped create a Bay Area version of Project Runway by starting a melee against the Denver Broncos last Sunday when opposing cornerback Aqib Talib ripped his gold necklace from his neck.

The University of Miami has a turnover chain. Michael Crabtree has a takeaway chain. He wears it, and Talib takes it away, at least once a year. The Raiders won, and desperately need to win again this week, but these details have been lost in the buzz over whether Crabtree would be suspended, and for how long. One game, as it turns out. He’ll be back for Episode 13.

If you’re looking for a return to normalcy, don’t count on the team coming to Oakland to play the Raiders on Sunday.

This week, the New York Giants benched their quarterback, Eli Manning, who took them to two Super Bowl victories and had started 210 consecutive games. Every high-profile athlete reaches the end of the line. Nothing new here. But this one played out like an episode of MTV’s Real World, with Manning fighting back tears in front of his locker and suggesting it was time to move out.

Down in Santa Clara, meanwhile, the 49ers have turned to Jimmy Garoppolo as their starting quarterback. Have you seen Garoppolo? He looks like he drove to team headquarters directly from the set of The Bachelor, or The Bachelorette, or The Bachelorino, or whatever permutation of the franchise is currently trending.


A sampling of bars in the Bay Area that cater to fans of NFL teams.

Arizona Cardinals: The Brick Yard, 1787 Union St., San Francisco

Baltimore Ravens: Thieves Tavern, 496 14th St., San Francisco

Buffalo Bills: North Star Cafe, 1560 Powell St., San Francisco

Carolina Panthers: Greens Sports Bar, 2239 Polk St., San Francisco

Chicago Bears: The Bar (On Dolores), 1600 Dolores St., San Francisco

Cincinnati Bengals: The Bus Stop, 1901 Union St., San Francisco

Cleveland Browns: R Bar, 1176 Sutter St., San Francisco

Denver Broncos: Nickies, 466 Haight St., San Francisco

Detroit Lions: Phoenix Irish Pub, 811 Valencia St., San Francisco

Green Bay Packers: Third Street Aleworks, 610 3rd St., Santa Rosa

Houston Texans: Cabin Bar & Lounge, 1750 Polk St., San Francisco

Miami Dolphins: The Blue Light, 1979 Union St., San Francisco

Minnesota Vikings: The Bell Tower, 1900 Polk St., San Francisco

New England Patriots: Connecticut Yankee, 100 Connecticut St., San Francisco

New Orleans Saints: Black Magic Voodoo Lounge, 1400 Lombard St., San Francisco

New York Giants: Ace’s, 998 Sutter St., San Francisco

New York Jets: The Wreck Room, 1390 California St., San Francisco

Philadelphia Eagles: Jake’s Steaks, 3301 Buchanan St., San Francisco

Pittsburgh Steelers: Giordano Bros., 3108 16th St., San Francisco

San Diego Chargers: Danny Coyle’s, 668 Haight St.. San Francisco

Seattle Seahawks: The Abbey Tavern, 4100 Geary Blvd., San Francisco

Washington Redskins: Red Jack Saloon, 131 Bay St., San Francisco

Each week for the past month we have wondered whether 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan would stick with C.J. Beathard, the rookie passer, or make the move to Garoppolo.

This week, Jimmy finally got the long-stemmed rose. C.J. got a bruised knee and a strained hip, courtesy of Seattle’s Michael Bennett.

Even the Warriors, our local paragons of stability and levelheadedness, were sucked into the headlines this week. They survived their game against the plucky Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night, but did not escape the vocal chords of LaVar Ball, father of Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball.

To claim that LaVar Ball resembles a walking reality show is to deny the fact that he is, indeed, already a reality show. It doesn’t have a title — I might suggest “Rolling With the Balls” to vie against “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” — or a network option, but he knows the cameras are rolling at all times.

Back in March, LaVar successfully elbowed his way into the news cycle by claiming that Lonzo was already better than Stephen Curry, the Warriors’ two-time MVP. When NBC Sports Bay Area’s Kerith Burke asked him for a reassessment of Curry on Wednesday, Ball replied: “He can be a 10-time MVP. I still don’t think he’s better than my son.” Pan to Kerith’s shocked face.

Tune in Sunday, when the Lakers host the Houston Rockets and LaVar explains why Lonzo’s field-goal percentage of 31.5 is actually better than James Harden’s 45.1.

Sports have always crossed the line into tabloid intrigue, of course. I’m not trying to claim otherwise.

But there is something about the relentless visibility of today’s controversies, the 24-hour tick-tock as stories unfold and the ability of people to weigh in on Facebook and Twitter as if we are all Nielsen families that has made everything feel more scripted, and simultaneously more intimate.

It would be easy to blame Donald J. Trump, who took the lessons he learned on The Apprentice and is applying them to running a nation-state. In truth, this turn to reality TV has been building for a while. Especially in sports.

I mean, the most dramatic event of the Giants’ 2017 season was a dirt bike accident, the biggest fight of the year was a boxing match featuring a non-boxer, and the NFL has been dominated by a weekly tally of who’s kneeling and who’s standing. Normally mellow Warriors forward Kevin Durant threw a stick of dynamite into a quiet summer when he blasted former Thunder teammates from a Twitter account that he mistakenly thought was anonymous. So juicy. So stupid.

And the pace is quickening. Perhaps fearing that ratings were in decline, the sports world trotted out a few reality-TV favorites from previous seasons. The Cleveland Browns welcomed back Josh Gordon, suspended a jillion times for marijuana use. Serial scumbag Rick Pitino re-emerged to announce he was suing the University of Louisville Athletic Association for $38 million. And golfer Tiger Woods, who has more or less become a combination of Ozzy Osbourne, Snooki from Jersey Shore and a perp from COPS over the past eight years, is competing again.

And there’s no going back. SportsCenter is now The Voice, Thursday Night Football is RuPaul’s Drag Strip and A’s Post-Game Report is Chopped.

If you don’t like it, get your own damn show.

You can reach columnist Phil Barber at 707-521-5263 or phil.barber@pressdemocrat.com. Follow him on Twitter: @Skinny_Post.

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