Over the last several years, I’ve imposed a sports media blackout upon myself as a means of reducing unwanted noise in my life. I realized that an entertainment offering like sports radio is mostly contrived contrarianism to get listeners riled up and emotional, and therefore tuning in day after day to see where it goes. Sometimes it’s funny and sometimes it’s infuriating. I started to find the whole thing to be stupid about 5 years ago so I stopped listening.
And in the midst of Deflate-Gate, I have not fallen off the sports media blackout wagon. However, it’s hard not to have some of the idiocy around this alleged conspiracy leak through my defenses. I think most rational people would look at this situation and say that if this weren’t the Patriots, it would be no big deal. Some misguided equipment manager would get fired and the story would be over. But it is the Patriots, and therefore it’s a conspiracy to cheat. In fact, it’s more than a conspiracy – it’s a comprehensive culture of cheating that pervades Bill Belichik’s entire coaching career. Or so the sports media would have you believe.
Yes, I’m blaming the sports media (and some other crybabies around the NFL who fuel it). Of course, when one blames the sports media for such things, their way of defusing it is to derisively say, “Yes, blame the media! It’s all our fault!” And then they move on to doing and saying the same stupid things they’ve been saying. Let’s be clear about a few things going on in the sports media tribe. They don’t care about the games. They may say they do, but they don’t. They care about stories. And more important, they care about being the one to tell the story. It’s all about them. It’s pure self-interest. Every one of those writers or talking heads in a press conference wants to be the one to write the big story and to be the one that asked the question that breaks a story wide open. That’s why we see this lynch mob mentality at recent press conferences with Belichik and Tom Brady. Question after question on the same topic being asked in the hope that he or she will be the one that makes them crack under the pressure. If that happens, then that media personality becomes part of the story and his star begins to rise. It’s got nothing to do with the games or the sport.
I was clued into this mindset several years ago when listening to WEEI in Boston, and Boston Herald sportswriter Steve Buckley was on the air. I can’t recall exactly what may have been transpiring in the Boston sports world at the time, but it was probably something to do with the Red Sox and Yankees. In this instance, Buckley was startlingly honest and admitted that he roots for stories. He was rooting for a particular story to happen or be true at that time, and I recall thinking that this was exactly the problem with the sports media in Boston. They don’t care about the same things that fans care about. Fans are interested in how the team is playing, what the team’s results are, what the team and its players need to do to be better, etc. It doesn’t mean that fans aren’t critical of coaches and players, but it’s more focused on performance. The sports media just care about stories, even if it’s gossip, because it’s better for them. I wasn’t a fan of Buckley prior to this, and that hasn’t changed, but I’ll laud him for his honesty.
New England sports fans don’t want to hear about Deflate-Gate any longer and that’s not because we’re all a bunch of homers who simply side with the Patriots no matter the controversy. Instead, it’s because we know that this story is getting pushed by a group of individuals whose self-serving motivation is blatantly obvious. If you can’t break the story, make yourself a part of the story somehow.
If you want to get yourself out of the noise, here’s my advice. Stop listening to sports radio. Stop watching SportsCenter or any other studio shows. Just watch the games and enjoy. The noise of the sports media only sucks the enjoyment out of something that’s supposed to be fun.