News & Analysis
Tim Tebow Time ... Not the 'Write' Time for Us
Dear Tim Tebow, Save Me From Tim Tebow ...I've reached my breaking point. I can't take it any longer without saying something, finding some release from the hostile takeover of my life by Timothy Richard Tebow. I simply cannot escape Tim Tebow. Everywhere I turn, there he is - Tim Tebow. On my television. On my radio. On my computer screen. In my mind. Haunting me like something out of Paranormal Activity. A debate topic on ESPN in the morning. A debate topic on ESPN in the afternoon. A segment on Around the Horn. On PTI. On Numbers Never Lie. On SportsNation. Primetime. The Blitz. NFL Live. A SportsCenter segment in the early evening. A mention in the Monday Night Football game. Another segment on SportsCenter in the evening. A poll question. A debate the next morning. And the next evening. And the next morning. And then, interspersed in between there's the #@$%ING DEBATES ABOUT THE DEBATES ABOUT TEBOW!!! It. Never. Ends. – Awful Announcing.com
Dominant Social Theme: The work we do as sportscasters is necessary and important. What would the nation do without us?
Free-Market Analysis: This well written and clever article by sportswriter Matt Yoder reminds us again of the pervasiveness of media manipulation in the West and especially in the Anglosphere where sports reporting has been elevated to superstar status.
Tim Tebow may or may not end up being a great NFL quarterback, but he surely will be remembered for the amount of media coverage he has inspired. It's enough to float the Titanic. Yoder has it right. Never has so much been written by so many for such a small result. The oceans of print and electrons expended on the non-issue of Tebow's fitness to play quarterback is truly mind-boggling.
This is in fact par for the course. What is striking to us mostly about sports reporting is the triviality of its analysis and the doggedness with which many sports reports repeat the same stories over and over again – a point that Yoder makes in this article, excerpted above.
We've written about sports reporting and sports reporters before in the context of both steroids and Michael Vick. If we could summarize our distaste for what's going on, it would center around the essential dumbness of adults who write this stuff regularly and are willing to take a paycheck to do so. Here are some articles we've written on the subject:
It's one thing to report on sports, which can be done nobly and honorably. Great sports writing is an art form, no less than short-story writing or other artistic endeavors. But modern sports writing for the most part seems to have lost that approach.
Today's sports writers, even the best of them like Mike Lupica, are mostly content to regurgitate the politically correct dominant social themes of Western society – offered up by the Anglosphere power elite the way gardeners offer up poisonous treats to garden pests.
The idea of course is to distract people from the serious problems they face in life and work. Never mind that the Western world is imploding or that Anglosphere elites are likely plotting a possible world war. Thousands of grown men and women are writing about Tim Tebow and the possibilities of his career ... or non-career.
What's even more infuriating is the way that sports reporters regurgitate the same memes over and over again. With Michael Vick, it often seemed as if every sports reporter was a vegetarian or had never heard of the way cattle are treated in the West, or that dogs are considered a delicacy in China – throughout Asia, as a matter of fact.
There is no politically correct offering that sports reporters in their apparently mindless zeal to put pen to paper will not endorse. Vick is a dog killer: Bad. Barry Bonds may have taken steroids to accomplish his homerun hitting records: Bad. Tim Tebow has an elongated throwing motion and is a fundamentalist Christian: Creepy.
Sports reporting, as it has been refined in the 21st century is one of the more reliable forms of elite programming. Perhaps it has to do with an ill-conceived sense of team spirit. Perhaps it involves a lack of a frame of reference. But reading an American sports article for the most part is like taking a bath filled with warm spit. Disgust is tempered only by the desire to dry off.
We exempt this article by Yoder. It is clever, witty and makes important points about the current herd instinct of sports reporters and the overwhelming – almost sociopathic – urge to take what is already a fairly trivial pursuit and turn it into an absolutely wretched and mind-numbing one. Here's more from the article:
Please, no more debates. No more debates about the debates. No more Skip Bayless bringing Tim Tebow into every conversation because he knows it pisses off viewers. No more cute jokes from SportsCenter anchors about the level to which ESPN shoves Tim Tebow down the collective throat of America. No more columns talking about Tebow's pants, or his girlfriends, or his billboards. Just let him be Tim Tebow.
If I could end in some way, with some plea of sanity to ESPN and the other members of the media and sports fans that read AA, it's this - stop and reflect on the absurdity ... I'm writing this just as someone that loves sports and cares enough to try and articulate my concerns with the way the sports media is heading towards obsession, sensationalism, and endless debate about nothingness with Tebow, LeBron James, and eventually other athletes down the road.
Simply put, the Tim Tebow obsession symbolizes everything that is wrong with the sports media. When discussing Tim Tebow, there is little to no proper perspective, rationality, facts, or reason. Bring it back before it becomes the rule instead of the exception and the way we look at sports is irrevocably changed.
Yup, Yoder has the right idea; in our view the only problem is that he hasn't gone far enough. The incessant reporting on Tim Tebow is only part of a larger dysfunction in sports. It seems to us to be born of equal parts of ignorance and listlessness. Our question then: Why write if you care so little?
The unexamined life may not be worth living, but most sports reporters (and they are overwhelmingly male) seem never to have heard this saying. The regurgitation of political correctness is stupefying. It is obvious that one reason for the industry's obsession with Tebow has to do with his religious principals – his religiosity in fact.
Sports writers, being pack-minded, are uncomfortable with it, and this has attracted attention to Tebow and made him the butt of jokes. This is par for the course. Whether it is Vick and dog-fighting or Barry Bonds and steroids, one can count on the vast majority of sports reporters (almost all of them almost all of the time) to report exactly what one might expect.
The industry is like some sort of reverberating steel drum. No original thought is allowed and the same memes echo endlessly – relentlessly rhythmic, lulling us into a sort of trance. And isn't that the point?
Conclusion: Perhaps as times change and the Internet allows for more original writing and reporting, sports writing will break out of its slump. There's plenty of great writing to be had – if one is willing to put pen to paper with a certain level of determination and excitement. We're just not seeing it yet. Or not ordinarily, anyway. Maybe we're just being too harsh ... or looking in the wrong places. Maybe Yoder's article (and the website he writes for – Awful Announcing) is a start ...
Posted by JeffC on 03/23/12 07:40 AM
"Give them bread and circuses and they will never revolt!" -Juvenal of the Roman Empire. Jussayin.
Posted by manuelpfister on 03/23/12 05:42 AM
Pardon me, but who cares what people are writing... the disturbing part is that people are READING this drivel. I also think it's disturbing that grown adults will pay perfectly good money to watch grown men chasing a ball up and down a field. In today's world nothing could be more insignificant than professional sports in general.
Posted by vivek on 03/23/12 02:52 AM
Very well said all around Hoss. Meet a fellow mis-fit here.
Have to admit I was a one-time glued to TV sports-nut. And then the wool got pulled.
Sports and the OLYMPICS... . watch for those Olympics, Sports + Symbolism = Trouble.
Posted by Nightcrawler on 10/29/11 02:05 PM
One aspect not mentioned in the article or feedback yet is gambling. For many years I participated in fantasy football leagues under the Nightcrawler banner. Very much like playing an extended nickle/dime poker game. The hometown fan thing goes right out the window when you have players all over the league. When you have a little money riding on the games they suddenly get much more interesting to watch. An escape from the day to day drudgery much like a light movie or book.
The article is absolutely right about the quality of sports writing today. The gambler pays little attention to the editorial writing, instead goes right to the stats.
Jim Murray was a sports writer worth spending the time to read. I used to cut out his articles and still have many of them saved. This is a good reminder to go back and reread a few.
Posted by Merridth80 on 10/29/11 08:38 AM
Oh, I'm sorry, I thought you were talking about the evening news. Forgive me, my attention span is so short.
The insincerety, and regurgitation is so repulsing. But even worse is when you have a police stand off in the downtown area and you have a reporter on the scene, instantly there is a great life-threatening event, of which that reporter is involved, personally. At least they give that impression.
The anchor team has already convicted the "Perp" without knowing who or what happened!
Most people now know that this is just a diversion so noone thinks about the real issues"How barry soetoro/ obama is destroying our country, further.
Incidently Rush is now calling him by his real/true name barry. LOL
Reply from The Daily Bell
Thanks for listening to Rush, as we cannot do it for any extended length of time at this point ...
Posted by Hoss on 10/28/11 11:23 PM
Around these parts, when the "home" team wins the World Series in baseball, the fans flip cop cars over and burn them.
Posted by keauco on 10/28/11 07:53 PM
Perhaps we're from the same planet Hoss?
Here in NZ our religion/buzz is rugby. We've just hosted the Rugby World cup - and won. It's well known that the euphoria of winning a major sporting event can tip the result of an election here in favour of the encumbent political party - the opposite also being true. Therefore how likely the national team is likely to win an upcoming major game must be taken into consideration when setting an election date. (I suppose they gambled correctly this time as the election is next month, 5 weeks after the Rugby World Cup final).
All such is absurdity to me.
Re role models, in the same article, media can eagerly report a sports stars fall from grace, and condemn them for being a bad role model for kids. Their hypocrisy won't let them admit to the connection that if they didn't report it the kids would never have known about it.
Perhaps the building up and breaking down of role models sub-consciously conditions people for acceptance of failure and sub-standard behaviour.
Posted by scousekraut on 10/28/11 03:10 PM
Never heard of either of them.
Was a sports fan when younger but gradually grew out of it. Now I just do them. There is certainly a collectivist mindset especially in soccer. In America it is baseball, basketball and football. In India it is cricket. In New Zealand it is rugby. Bread and games or as I say in German: "Mit Brot und Spielen sind die Meisten zufrieden."
Posted by TimurTheLame on 10/28/11 10:25 AM
Good observation. I used to be a sports fan of sorts and when I think back to those days, I inevitably ask myself what else was I thinking about with respect to important things in life at the same time. The answer is and was, not much.
Somewhere along the line the day to day illusions shattered and almost instantaneously my interest in sports became near non-existent. Based on that, I do believe that it is trance inducing.
While it could be argued that sports itself has degenerated it is also true that sports journalism followed suit. I could read Mailer endlessly on boxing. There is nothing like that anymore.
One thing that always amused me was overhearing louts at a bar talk endlessly about sports stats with a mathematical recall that would make Oppenheimer envious. I would bet that these same armchair experts failed math at the high-school level.
Its all part of the 'cult of the celebrity', a minor branch of the bread and circuses act. Women have Hollywood stars.
Youngsters have.. well IPADS.
Isn't stupid wonderful?
Posted by Hoss on 10/28/11 10:07 AM
"If we could summarize our distaste for what's going on, it would center around the essential dumbness of adults who write this stuff regularly and are willing to take a paycheck to do so."
OK, but what about those who consume this tripe?
Somehow I got tossed out the side of the flying saucer and ended up being an alien on this planet, out of my element and not able to comprehend what those around me see. Perhaps my eyes are receptive to one portion of the electromagnetic spectrum and blind to the rest, which others can see with ease. Or something. (I've never claimed to be wholly sane.)
I can understand sports as recreation, as games to be played by those young enough to be able to participate. I can understand getting some idle amusement from watching the best performers of a sport practice the highest form of their art. What I cannot understand is the sociological phenomenon. I am simply befuddled by it.
The emotional significance, the personal emotional investment in 'home teams' that consist wholly of players not from the region. The official tripe in newspapers about the renaissance of a post-industrial slum wasteland city -- because the sports teams are doing better! Or the malaise in the same context when they lose again and again.
The complete and utterly absurd religious mythology built around college sports, the sanctity around it, the highs and lows experienced by the fans when their teams win and lose -- nobody on any of these teams is from the region, and none of them actually go to the school to learn, and most of the fans never went to the school either. The immensity of the entire pretense boggles the imagination. If I were a writer of fairy tales, I still couldn't have concocted such a silly idea on such a grand scale.
The memorization of statistical minutiae by millions of people, argued over and analyzed ad nauseum, a torrent of data that is completely devoid of any meaning whatever, transfixing the attention so completely that the most expert analyses bring a kind of social status unattainable otherwise. Many of these selfsame experts couldn't calculate how long it will take to travel to a given destination at a known speed, couldn't calculate how much fuel would be burned in a trip, or calculate the amount of change they should get back when they buy a case of beer.
Most disgusting of all from my alien perspective is the collectivist mindset that is reinforced with this emotional identification with teams, and all the putrid analogies spun off from it -- sports teamwork analogies for the workplace, for social goals, for government, for family, for everything and everybody, everywhere at any time. It is all perfectly nauseating.
I suppose the Romans were onto something fundamental with their bread and circuses. People love to suck up some unearned prestige or at least some unearned pride from a superstar (another concept that mystifies me). And whenever possible, great satisfaction can be gotten from the fall of a superstar, everyone elbowing their neighbors out of the way to deliver the most vicious kicks to the ribs of the fallen hero, probably the subject of a voracious appetite for proof that the kicker is every bit as good, no, even better than the fallen hero. The murderous anger against a former superstar upon which all hopes had been invested, who turns out to be a loser due to some inadvertent error, or who does something to besmirch the imaginary ideal of the 'role model' they are supposed to portray, is something to be marveled at.
And what are these unwritten rules for being a role model? What percentage of parents would or should encourage their children to take up a sport as a profession, when the odds are so implacably against their success?
If it were simply a bogus method to divert attention from more important issues, that would be one thing. If it were simply entertainment for the purpose of selling and consuming beer, that would be understandable. But the whole scene takes on a personal aspect for fans that is clung to with a desperation that defies my simple understanding. For contests the outcome of which have net zero meaning, the genuine exaltation or depression experienced by the observers is a social phenomenon that reflects something fundamental about human nature.
Obviously the state recognizes the importance of this and nurtures it for its own ends. The vital importance of this is reflected in the amount of government money devoted to the subject, the status of professional sports cartels operating under exemptions from anti-trust law, and so on.
The whole thing suffuses the culture to the extent that I cannot avoid exposure to it despite complete disinterest in any of it.
It's part of the Matrix.
It scares me.
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