Sports News Without Access, Favor, Or Discretion

Sam Farmer wrote a column which started with the recent spate of injuries to playoff-bound NFL quarterbacks for Tuesday’s edition of the Los Angeles Times. The copy’s fine, but the headline has puzzled me and others on the Deadspin staff for a couple of days now.

“KO’d QBs could be playoff do bees.” (The online version doesn’t use this headline.) The confusing part is the last two words: “do bees.” I didn’t understand what they meant. It ate at me so much that I emailed Farmer. Writers don’t always pick their headlines, but I thought he might have collaborated with his editors. Farmer did not. His response:

Samer — I think I have heard that term before, and it might mean “a doer.” I’ve looked it up on the web, but it’s a little hard to find because “do” is a verb, so that search attracts a lot of extraneous hits. Our headline writers are typically terrific, but I didn’t quite understand that one (maybe I’m just missing something.) So I will ask around.


I also emailed the Times’ communications department, but didn’t receive a reply. With nowhere else to turn, I asked my coworker Tom Scocca, who patiently led me to one possibility. Scocca believed that “do bees” was a reference to a children’s show called Romper Room, which ran on television from 1953 to 1994. The program featured a character named Mr. Do-Bee, and he had a song which differentiated between “do bees” and “don’t bees,” in the effort of teaching kids how to do good things. Here’s a short video of Mr. Do-Bee, a nightmarish little thing, dancing:

Putting all this together, the headline “KO’d QBs could be playoff do bees,” might be trying to say that the currently injured quarterbacks could be productive for their teams in the playoffs. This is supported by Farmer’s very first sentence: “Three of the AFC’s most talked-about quarterbacks are currently sidelined with injuries, although each could be back at the helm of their first-place teams for the playoffs.”

If this isn’t what the Times meant, they should probably just go with it.

Update (12:27 p.m.): Times sports editor Angel Rodriguez says we’re accurate.

It is in fact a Romper Room reference. The helpful Do Bees. It’s a bit obscure but our copy desk is the best around and they like to have some fun.


Photo via Ian Cohen

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