Well, my tenure as a broadcaster with Rogers is almost up. The last show of Baseball Central will air September 6th, and then I’ll hop a CRV back to Ohio.
Some of you might be sad to see me go. Some of you might be glad to be rid of me. Most of you will just be like, “HOCKEY!!!!!”
Regardless of your stance towards Baseball Central or my brief career as a broadcaster, I say thank you. It’s been a real pleasure working with the fine folks that make up the broadcasting team and the fan base.
Well, most of you anyway.
What I’ve learned since doing the broadcaster thing is that the internet is a nasty, evil place where hate spawns eternal, especially for those whose feelings are easily hurt by critical words directed at their beloved sports heroes.
Being a good broadcaster means you have to be critical. I think about 90% of the population gets this. But then there is that small 10% pocket whose head explodes with rage and grabs a key board to launch malice via a return key strike as fast as they possibly can whenever their team is criticized.
I don’t like those people very much.
I wonder if I’ll ever get used to it? Probably. I’m certainly more used to it now than I was, even in my playing days.
I think the worst part about it for me is how, when you’re in the public eye, you can’t really defend yourself. If you’re critical, someone will always get on you for attacking someone. If you’re not critical, you’re to fluffy, or a homer, or a yes-man. If you come back at the person attacking you in an angry way, you’re not professional. If you admit that it bothers you, you’re a wuss and can’t take the stress of the job. If you ignore them and don’t block them, “you’re acting better than them”. If you acknowledge it at all, you get told you shouldn’t let it bother you. It’s almost as if you are forced to become a jerk because it’s the only way you can survive the steady stream of people who want to attack you.
The kicker is, when you’re pissing people off, sometimes that’s the best way to know you’re succeeding. How counter intuitive is that? In the media, your job is to be polarizing so people are engaged for better or for worse. We all listen to stuff we have strong feelings about, therefore, it’s the entertainment media’s job—at least my capacity in it—to bring out strong emotions… while entertaining.
When I was first told this I said, “Oh, you mean like, Info-tainment?”
“No” I was told, “like Entermation.” Entertainment first, info second.
I have a new respect for the media because they have to do things that effect people a certain way that get a continuous result from a viewer even WHILE the viewer is throwing a fit at them saying they shouldn’t do it the way they are because it will never get a continuous result. Who is lying to who here? It’s sad to say, but sometimes people are like sheep and the media just needs to put on a wolf suit to get them baa-ing. Meanwhile, profits soar and ratings climb… Crazy. People are so reactionary and voyuerisitc… and, well, manipulatable even when they say they’re not.
In a lot of ways, this job is fun. It a lot of ways, it sucks. People don’t realize that part of my job is to take stand on a subject, present it a certain way, and hash it out so the viewer feels stimulated and entertained. Thus the very fact that they are stimulated enough to get on a keyboard and spew anger and hate is a success. But god forbid you ever let the viewer know you played them, that you expected this reaction… then you’re really asking for it.
Unfortunately, most of the folks that attack media figures don’t think about how the media and entertainment industry works. They take it personally (a side effect of stirring strong opinions and emotions) and so they make personal attacks. Do you know how many times I’ve been told I suck at life this month? More times than all of grade school combined. I get the “you didn’t play long enough to have an opinion” line at least once daily. Sometimes it’s not even that robust of an argument, sometimes it’s just a, “kill yourself.” —classy. Hell, take a look at the latest SportsNet.CA article I was featured in. I played with big leaguers for parts of 3 years and know all about big egos, but according to most commenters I don’t know nuthin’ bout nuthin’!
Am I scared away? No. Not at all. But is it eye opening? Yessir. What a crazy, complex people we are. We want everyone to agree with us, although we’d never be entertained by that, which would piss us off even worse.
I’m still trying to figure out who I am behind the mic. Everyone has their opinions on that as well. The crappy thing is, twitter allows people to pump those opinions right into my head. I don’t know what I’m going to be, or if I even have enough time to get to choose. Sometimes I just have to react to the reactions. I do know one thing, and that’s I wont be afraid. Whatever my opinions are, I’ll own them, even if there concerning people I know personally.
I’ve been critical of Jays pitcher Ricky Romero this year, but gosh do I feel for him. Still, I have to be critical because to cheer lead sounds biased—especially when we work for the same parent company. It’s a tough line to balance on, but at least he and I know it’s a business— that in the end it’s never personal. And if it was, what does it matter? It’s all—ALL—for show.
And yet it continues as if it isn’t. Because is must. We participate in it and that is, complexities and hypocrisies included, our relationship with sports, fans, and the media. So what do you do? How do you change it? Can you change it? Or, do you realize that it’s just sports, it’s just talk, and it’s just a game—all of it only as valuable as we make it out to be…
I guess that’s all you can do.
~There are plenty of fools in the world; but if they had not been sent for some wise purpose, they wouldn’t have been here; and since they are here they have as good a right to have elbow-room in the world as the wisest.” — Susan Edmonstone Ferrie