Sports Media Musings: Don’t Look Back In Anger

Note: Should have plenty of juice for tomorrow’s mailbag, but if you have something on your mind, don’t be shy. Fire off an email to [email protected] or, if you fancy yourself the progressive type, shout at me on twitter @Hadfield__.

Today: Four Downs (SPORTZ PUN!) of Media Musings – and other stuff – for you to rifle through during your annual malaise, otherwise known as the first work day of the New Year.

First & 10 

Our opening topic of discussion is Tim Tebow. As a general service to the BSMW community, we’re giving you an out. If you don’t want to read about him, or his new position at ESPN, please skip the next 500+ words. Cool? Cool.

Tebow signed a multi-year deal to join ESPN as an analyst for the four-letter network’s new SEC Network, set to launch later this year.

Here’s part of Tebow’s released statement:

“When I was 6 years old, I fell in love with the game of football, and while I continue to pursue my dream of playing quarterback in the NFL, this is an amazing opportunity to be part of the unparalleled passion of college football and the SEC.”

There was uproar about these innocuous words, because the Internet exists and faux outrage is a byproduct of that sheer existence. In summation, the snide reaction was two-fold. Part I went something like “TELL ME, HOW DOES WORKING AT A NETWORK IMPROVE YOUR CHANCES OF BECOMING A PROFESSIONAL QB????” Before getting into Part II, let me just clarify that there are people (myself included) who work multiple jobs in pursuit of their dreams. This happens, everywhere. Can’t knock the hustle here. Just can’t.

But if you’re in the business of poking holes into a media hire, Part II of the reaction is a much sounder viewpoint – that Tebow has never come across as particularly articulate. On the veneer, this is a fair assessment; well, until we come to terms with ESPN’s history. Look, for every Jalen Rose there is a Ray Lewis, an Emmitt Smith and a Lou freaking Holtz (who’s like 102 years-old). Suffice to say, networks hire names, not talent.

That’s not a knock, either; there’s credibility associated with hiring athletes, even if they have trouble putting together any resemblance of a cogent argument.  For instance, right in our own backyard, Jermaine Wiggins is still a thing that can be consumed on a part-time basis …Which is great! You know, if you’re into self-flagellation.

TEBOWWWW! Watch out for the football!

With all that said, do you want to know what we, here at BSMW, really think about this Tim Tebow situation? No, you don’t. And that’s the point, isn’t it? He is the insatiable itch, the scratch that won’t heal. You’re not upset that you’re reading this part of Sports Media Musings. Nope. You’re upset – or happy? – at me, the writer, for producing it.

Therein lies the Tim Tebow conundrum: he cannot win, but he cannot lose, either. He is a perfect amalgam of ingredients for this fucked up world we live in. He will always be a polemic figure trapped – or aided? – by the irascible way in which people talk about popular culture. His values and skill set and demeanor and, um, looks are all part of the package.

(Here’s the most Tebow story ever: I once wrote a column for Metro Boston about the real-time emotional roller coaster that took place immediately after he signed with the Patriots this offseason. Looking back, that exercise feels silly, but it wasn’t as if I was unaware the idea was silly at the time. I knew it then, I know it now; and the known oversaturation of commentary is what makes Tebow so compelling. Or infuriating. We’re all part of the problem, except for Tebow himself (I think, maybe?). I need a drink.)

Regardless, this leaves the general public with one burning concern: What in God’s name (INTENTIONAL PUN) will be the lead story on SportsCenter in August?

Second & 40

(Because we were flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct, then we complained, and Ed Hochuli promptly flexed his pecks at us, while issuing a second unsportsmanlike conduct penalty).

This is the last time we’ll discuss this issue because I cannot handle any more analysis over something so off-base. Today, though, I can’t help myself. During an appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show, Dan

See: Slinger of Sports Takes; purveyor of truth.

Shaughnessy talked about his role as an objective/subjective/provocateur of Boston Sports. It was 15 minutes of fun, and for all the reasons you’d expect. Listen to the segment here, in case you missed it.

In no specific order, we offer scattered musings about what you just listened to.

 In a piece for WEEI.com last year, Kirk Minihane killed Shank for his misguided column which echoed similar sentiments about the “Wild, Wild West” … the Internet. (Oh, look – a tumbleweed!) Yet Minihane was eerily quiet here; meanwhile, John Dennis and Gerry Callahan spent the better part of the segment massaging the CHB’s already-inflated ego for being a Gunslinger of Truth. It felt like a sit down between Chris Berman-Brett Favre circa 2005. They just LOVED the piece, soooooo refreshing.

… Shank spoke about his qualms with “fan boy bloggers,” ultimately determining that he could talk to his neighbor if he wanted to hear an “uninformed” opinion and that he wants to be “enlightened” by analysis. That’s rich coming from him, because you know what’s enlightening to the masses? Caustic opinion that changes over the course of a week.

… I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I laughed at the Callum Borchers jab. “You’re not missing much.” (Playing catch up? For background, click here.)

… Shank sly quipping, “I just cannot listen to another 20 year-old telling me he thinks so-and-so sucks” on a sports radio program absolutely killed me. If you don’t see the absurdity of that statement, in that medium, you’re part of the problem. Go away. (Just kidding. Email me. We’ll talk it out.)

… Newsflash to everyone on earth who called this topic “a fresh issue that everyone is talking about!” … This isn’t fucking Inception or the newly released Drake b-sides; there is nothing fresh about this discussion, it’s far from a new issue. You’re dating yourselves if you say otherwise. Stop.

… And for the love of Tim Tebow: NO ONE IN THEIR RIGHT MIND THINKS WRITERS HAVE TO BE A FAN OF THE TEAMS THEY COVER. You all sound like Shank’s aforementioned uninformed neighbor. And d-bags, too. Wars over – Buzz Bissinger already fought the good fight, and lost. Rather miserably, I might add. It wasn’t pretty.

… Also: Hey guys, while we all think it’s cute, you don’t have to be so coy about the whole thing. So please, instead of saying “blogs,” it’s OK to just call us out.

Third & 5 (BIG PLAY)

A few links to pass along …

Will Leitch made an interesting point worth considering about the future of the media in his column predicting what the sports universe will look like in 2014:

“More non-athletes will have more prevalent television analyst roles. We’ve all watched Emmitt Smith and other former athletes struggle with both basic diction and any coherent perspective on the games they played. We’re starting to see the answer to that: People like us. ESPN’s Bill Simmons, who might have helped push out Magic freaking Johnson and is now essentially the centerpiece of ESPN’s NBA coverage, is the zenith of this, but you’re seeing the trend everywhere, from Tom Verducci working the booth during playoff games to the Basketball Jones guys with their own show on NBA.tv. (They’re “The Starters” now, a name I’m still not used to.) Viewers are tired of ancient anecdotes from the locker room; expect to see more non-players like Simmons featured, not less.’’

In the biz, that’s called going full circle. As you can glean from my Tebow analysis, I tend to hope he’s right.

***

In his year-end awards, Rich Levine had a funny section that, I think, we can all relate to.

THE TOM BRADY SHOULDER AWARD (Biggest Non-Story)

Runners-Up

Should Boston fans Boo Wes Welker?: Well, should they?

Should Boston fans boo Doc Rivers?: Should they?!

Should Boston fans boo Terry Francona?: For the love of all that’s holy, we need an answer! We need the media to tell us what to feel and how to act. Please! Somebody. Anybody?

And the winner is . . .

Every debate over whether a former player/coach deserves to be booed upon his return to Boston: Across the board. Every one. Please. Please. No more booing debates!

Can that be our collective New Year’s resolution for 2014?

Notice Rich said “us,” meaning – DUN, DUN, DUNNN!!!! – he’s a fan! ONE OF US! Dear God, does CSNNE know about this? BURN HIS HOT, HOT SPORTZ TAKES! EACH AND EVERY ONE OF THEM! Wait, they’re on the Internet?? Of course they are; after all, that’s where the fans write!

Should there be an execution? Let’s be rational and talk this out first. OK, fine. Rich, for your last meal, we have a steak on the menu – yes, straight from the Gillette Stadium media buffet – how would you like that cooked?

Could Rich Levine be taking a trip to Lake Tahoe soon? We hope not.

FOURTH & 1 (Obviously, going for it) 

It’s great to be back. The site is doing better than ever (1.4 million views last year, what’s up?). And I feel like it’s going to be a great year. Yada, Yada, Yada. Because of all that awesomeness, we’re going to depart today’s musings with randomness that may – or may not – relate to Boston Sports Media. Why? Because I just wrote 1,300+ words about Tim Tebow and Shank. I need to breathe.

… Saw a dude at the gym wearing a Pats hoodie that had the sleeves all cut up like Bill Bellichick’s infamous look. I asked him about it, and he told me he bought it custom made that way. Luckily, I had just listened to the D&C interview.

So I shrugged, smugly told him he was uninformed, and walked away.

… Speaking of the gym, what’s with old guys and their willingness to walk around naked in the locker room? I certainly change in the locker room, but it’s not like I sit there, naked, and play a few rounds of Candy Crush. I ask because the steam room at the local YMCA has a policy requiring members to cover up their genitals with a towel while using the room.

All things considered, this seems like a reasonable request. And yet, the other day an old dude had to be told to cover up when he walked in naked. He stood there – naked, in all his glory, angrily perplexed – and (eventually) departed, but not before checking the listed rules of the locker room. With the scowl he gave the person at the front desk, you would have thought we were questioning his freedom of speech. Moments later, I saw him in the lobby and asked him if he liked sports, he confusingly replied “Yeah, I’m a fan.” OF COURSE, I thought to myself.

So I shrugged, smugly told him he was uninformed, and walked away.

… Is it a weird move to still drink ice coffee in January? Because I definitely still am ordering up an icer from ‘Dunks every morning. I don’t know, maybe I should consult Peter King on this, since he both loves coffee and isn’t a measly fan. He’s mainstream media, he knows things.

… Openly looking for television show recommendations. Preferably a series still running that I can binge watch to catch up on. Make me proud, everyone.

Lastly, here’s a true story: I walked into the office this morning and saw my team by the coffee machine, looking fiercely hungover. I decided to offer up motivation, because I’m totally that guy. “Hey, you guys – come on, fist bumps all around [I fisted, they reluctantly bumped]. Let’s be great – together, as a team – for these next 48 hours before heading into the weekend.” Think it’s a sign I have to stop listening to TED Talks on my morning commute.

As always, thanks for reading. @Hadfield__

  • latetodinner

    Happy New Year Ryan!

    Okay now that the pleasantries are out of the way…allow me to rip your Tebow take.

    The reason why Tebow is so polarizing as a player is that even though he does not have sound fundamentals he has won at each level he has played at. Add in his devout faith and his willingness to discuss it and you have a unique athlete who developed a huge fan base. The fact that Rex Ryan would not put him on the field just inflated the reputation. He won a playoff game in Denver the year before yet he was not good enough to play for a sinking Jet’s team.

    On the other hand…when the cameras are on, unless Tebow miraculously become more critical and develops an easy/accessible way of delivering said criticism his voice will become ignored. It does not matter whether people like his faith or work ethic…when he is delivering commentary people will hear his words. If he adds nothing to conversation he will get tuned out.

    I am hoping that ESPN screen tested him before signing him to that contract. There is no NFL team that is going to take a chance on him. So they are paying him for the next 5 years. Unlike playing in college or the Pro’s Tebow will now be judged on what he says. Critics, as you well know, be brutal.

  • LocalSportStuff

    Uniformed or Uninformed?