Saturday, February 24, 2007

Sports Talking Heads By Nature Are Smarter Than Fans

Now isn't this title a crock of Heinz Field turf?
I’ve been asked before by fans and members of the media, “Do you consider yourself a journalist or a fan?” Without hesitation I enthusiastically reply, “Fan!”

Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines journalist as a person engaged in journalism. (Gee that’s helpful.) It further describes a journalist as a writer or editor for a news medium; a writer who aims at a mass audience.

Hmm, maybe that shoe fits.

Wikipedia describes the j-word as a person who practices journalism. (Wow, equally as enlightening!) And then describes journalism as the gathering and dissemination of information about current events, trends, issues and people.

So now I have two shoes that fit…

But call me a fan first. Want proof? Ask me for one of my business cards. There it is right there, Tony Lombardi, Fan.

Interestingly enough, I hear some radio talk show hosts refer to fans in a way that is reminiscent of the way folks in Ruxton might label natives of Dundalk. In other words the opinions of fans and their respective cerebral capacities are somehow less relevant and they look down their "journalistic" noses at fans the way a Boys Latin grad might view a Patapsco alumnus.

Go ahead give it a try. Spend some time listening to WJFK and WNST. I’m not saying that this is a universally held opinion by the talking heads of each of these all sports radio frequencies or even a majority opinion, yet it won’t take you long to realize that certain on air “talent” clearly hold their own opinions, views and overall sports acumen on a much higher level than the lowly fans.

But why?

Just because they are given a microphone powered by 5,000 watts (in some cases) and an internet feed, that they somehow know more about sports? Sorry, it only works that way in the minds of the insecure few who sit behind a microphone and view fans as the sporting world’s indigent population.

Why are they any better?

Because they can cut you off on air at the touch of a button?
Some might know more than you. Some more than me. Some less than both of us. But that isn't the point of sports talk radio in my opinion. You see the objective of these orators of sport should be to deliver information and to act as a point guard of sorts to encourage the open exchange of ideas and opinions. Just because someone has media credentials doesn't make that someone an authority. Just like an informed fan, the journalist has to work at it.

Those credentials aren't the equivalent of the Scarecrow's diploma. If some radio DJ were to come along and be hired as a TV sports anchor, would that suddenly make him or her an authority?

I don't think so!

Now I will admit that objectivity can be clouded by fandom. I once asked a couple of highly respected and journalistically decorated members of the local sports media if they were fans of the Ravens. Begrudgingly they came clean and admitted that they were yet they view it as a creed of the profession to check that bias at the door when they whip out their notepads and Sharpies.
(Mine is purple.)

Another highly respected journalist who covers the Ravens daily told me that he flat out is not a fan of the team and that makes it easier for him to cover them without bias.

These conversations have stuck with me and they inspire me to do my best to remain objective.

But every now and then, (think Al Pacino in Godfather III) just when I think that I’m straight with this, my passion as a fan pulls me right back in!

I suppose I’m somewhere in the middle – somewhere between the media and a fan. Call me the median.

And that is pretty much what this site is all about anyway. Think of us as fans with access. And if you can marry the two together successfully, isn’t that the equivalent to governing for the people and by the people?

You know, like you and me.

I want to share a funny story before I finish this thing – which for the moment I’m not sure if it’s a column or a blog entry (I’m sure a real journalist would know).

I was once a spotter for the Baltimore Colts during their final two seasons here in B’more. As a then recent college grad, I was situated up in the press box and my job was to record time of possession, scoring drives and third down efficiency. In the press box, it is sort of understood that you cannot be partial to either team. Well let’s just say I had a “misunderstanding” – several times.

The press box is sterile that way. The members of the media are asked to check emotion at the door the way a doctor detaches him or herself emotionally from a patient so as not to cloud their judgment.

That never really worked for me.

Twenty years later, I had the opportunity to sit in the press box for a couple of seasons. I did that exactly twice out of 20 opportunities. I had a hard time playing doctor, opting instead to sit in my seats with my son, fiancé and friends.

A fan I am…sometimes a median.

People try to put us d-down
Just because we g-g-get around
Things they do look awful c-c-cold
Yeah, I hope I die before I get old

And for me being old is not being a fan.

That’s my “generation” baby!


Trilo said...


I like your blog. Nice spots. If you'll have time you can look on my page.

HARRYO29 said...

When we lived in Randallstown, long ago, my oldest son was the Valedictorian out of Boys Latin, in 1986! My mother was born in Dundalk. Somehow, we have kept our heads level and never thought that we knew more than the rest.
I enjoyed all of your subtle references to another journalist, up the dial who posts a BLOG of sorts that references a certain celestial body that appears over Baltimore every night.... :-)
Good points all; I've been a score keeper for my son's baseball teams over the years and its not easy to be indifferent when scoring a hit or an error.
I bleed purple also, and enjoyed your latest Journalistic effort regardless of whether you attended Arch Bishop Curly, Loyola, Mt St Joe or Calvert Hall.
I think you are right on with 99% of your points in this blog.
keep on writen...and we will keep on readin....
CcCC-a-mon Spring time..
Harry O'
Sykesville, Md