It was following the playoff game between the Denver Broncos and Pittsburgh Steelers that I decided something should be said about what sometimes appears to be a bit of a Social Media scuffle between members of mainstream media and the rest of us.
On that evening, this skirmish manifested itself on Twitter immediately after the Broncos beat the Steelers in overtime, on an 80-yard touchdown pass from Tim Tebow to Demaryius Thomas.
This may come as a bit of a surprise to some of you, but Tim Tebow is not altogether popular among most media-types. Many of them decided long ago that he was destined to be a failure as an NFL quarterback.
There are many reasons for this. The fact that he quarterbacked the Florida Gators would be enough for me to instantly dislike him, but I think it goes much deeper for the media “experts”.
He throws funny. He insists on not only running the football, but running a college-like option offense, which everyone knows NFL quarterbacks just aren’t supposed to do.
And he talks about his religion. A lot. Perhaps more than any sports figure I can recall since Muhammad Ali. And, of course, Ali had no problems with the media at all when he declared his chosen religious preference, right?
A lot of people have an issue with famous people overtly demonstrating, or even talking about, their personal religious beliefs. Interestingly, they don’t seem to have the same issue with those who openly demonstrate and proclaim their lack of religious beliefs (or even a moral compass, for that matter). Anyway, I really don’t have an issue either way, as long as the person doesn’t expect me to believe exactly as they do. Even if they DO expect that, I still don’t much care, as long as they don’t threaten to blow anyone up for not meeting those expectations. That’s where I draw the line.
But let’s assume for a moment that the motives of most media members in their criticisms of Tebow have nothing to do with his religion. Let’s assume it’s all about his mechanics. That doesn’t make them right. And that’s the problem, I believe.
These are men (and women… but largely men) who really, really… really… need to be right. And when any of us common folk suggest that perhaps they aren’t right about something, they can tend to lose their senses of humor and get more than a little defensive.
It’s not just about Tim Tebow, either. The Twins’ front office is getting a lot of support from mainstream media types lately concerning the Twins’ decision to slash payroll heading in to just the third season at their still-pretty-new publicly funded ballpark. Suffice to say, there are a few of us among the masses who aren’t 100% in agreement.
If it turns out that Tebow leads the Broncos to the Superbowl and goes on to a long, successful career as an NFL quarterback and/or that the Twins’ frugality proves unwise and sends the franchise in to another downward spiral, it will mean that a lot of people who are paid anywhere from good money to lots of money to provide expert sports analysis will have been wrong.
(Some of these media “experts” are, of course, more “media personalities” with no more of a sports IQ than a chimpanzee that’s been forced to watch ESPN for a month straight, than they are real media professionals, but we’ll leave that discussion for another day.)
That kind of thing is hardly unprecedented, of course. It’s probably safe to say that sportswriters’ opinions have been proven wrong occasionally for as long as there have been sportswriters.
But writers and columnists in the “old days” could take a position concerning a particular team’s or athlete’s talents, or lack thereof, and if that opinion turned out to be wrong, they could simply and conveniently never again mention their original viewpoint. Sure, a couple of Letters to the Editor might call them on it, but other than the 12 people who read that letter (assuming it got published at all), they were largely not held accountable for their views.
Today, the poor scribes who earn their daily bread by covering sports for conventional media outlets are immediately and loudly called out on any opinion they may express via Twitter or other electronic communication.
It’s almost enough to make me feel sorry for them. Almost.
I’m going to apologize at this point for what comes next. I’m going to speak in generalities and thereby probably paint all media types with the same broad brush. That’s unfair, I know. So let me start out by saying that I realize not every member of the conventional media falls in to the group that I take issue with. How’s that for a disclaimer?
One particular member of the media that I disagree with more often than not Tweeted something following the Broncos game to the effect that he’s amazed that people call him a “Tebow hater” just because he disagrees with their subjective opinions. I chuckled when I read that.
Have you noticed that, as fans, our opinions are “subjective”, while the opinions of the media in-crowd are “objective”? If a “professional” media member says that it makes sense for the Twins front office to slash payroll until their stars prove healthy this season, they are exercising professional objectivity (because we all know “real” sportswriters don’t root for or against any player or team, right?). But if you or I question that strategy and suggest that cutting payroll in just the third season of their new publicly funded ballpark, without providing any basis for projecting reduced revenues, is wrong-headed strategy at best, we’re often dismissed as being just fans with “subjective” opinions.
It’s simple arrogance, really. But I understand it.
I’m a bit of an expert in my chosen profession. I’d be willing to bet that I know a lot more about the industry in which I work and, in particular, the aspects of that industry that I’ve been dealing with for more than 30 years, than you do. If I suddenly found that part of my job included having to Tweet about issues I deal with on a daily basis and interact with a few thousand people who I don’t have any reason to believe know anything at all about my industry, I’d probably roll my eyes and become pretty arrogant, too. (Yes, I know, I’m already arrogant… so let’s say I’d become even MORE arrogant.)
Fortunately, I have no such job requirement.
Instead, I get to use Twitter and this blog to occasionally tweak not only the players and those who run the teams and leagues I follow, but also the men and women who cover sports for a living. Do I sometimes think they go a bit easy on the local players, coaches and administrators of the teams they cover? Yes. Do I think some of them behave as though the fan base, in general, and the blogging community, in particular, are idiots? Yes. Do I occasionally take too much pleasure in the tweaking I do? Absolutely. Guilty as charged.
I know I’m not perfect. I’m proven to be wrong a lot (and I really HOPE I’m wrong about the Twins’ future). I don’t like it when others point out when I’ve been wrong, but it happens often enough that I generally take it pretty well. Better than some others, who shall remain nameless, anyway. I try to remember that this is all in fun and to keep my sense of humor intact. I do realize that it may be easier to do that when I’m not trying to make a living off of my opinions about the Twins (or Tebow, for that matter).
One of the greatest things about all of the social media options we have these days is that we all can discuss and debate a nearly infinite number of issues almost in real time, not only with other sports fans, but directly with the hard working media members that have more direct access to the teams than the rest of us could ever get.
As a fan, I enjoy that very much. I think most, if not all, of the media members who work the Twins beat enjoy it, too. At least I hope they do.