Tag Archives: espn

Work-Life Balance and the Single Person

I’m starting to see what a lot of other single people, perhaps, already have learned–other people don’t think single people deserve work-life balance.

Now, I haven’t had anyone say this to me in person. But I have approached my current job a little bit differently than I have approached other jobs. I have indirectly let it be known that I am not one of those workers of whom you can just take advantage–that’s my friend Clara. I’m not worried about being the perfect employee or losing my job. I let people know that when the clock hits that time at the end of the workday, I’m gone.

Recently, a lot of changes have been made at my job. Essentially, everything I liked about my job is either now gone or likely will be very soon. The only thing that is still in the “very soon” category is a change being made to what time I have to be at work in the mornings and what time I get to leave in the afternoons. Nobody has told me that is about to change, but I’m not stupid. My job duties have completely changed, and the people I work with are totally different people.

They have me training with this guy, whom, I can tell, doesn’t seem to understand what my hours are at work. He’s the kind of guy who is very into his job, very dedicated. I’m not like that, especially not now that my employers have f*cked my job all up with these changes. Plus, I’m a contract employee and he’s not…so why should I be dedicated when my employer is not dedicated to me? You think this is true for every job. You also think it’s true that changes occur at every job. But neither of these things in a regular job is like how they are in a contract position. There is absolutely no stability in a contract job in any sense, no regularity or uniformity–you do whatever they want whenever, regardless of what you’re told in the beginning about the position or what you’re told while working the position. Contract jobs might as well never have job titles, at least not in IT, because the title won’t apply for long (if ever). And then to top it off, most contract jobs eventually end, usually in a year or less. Now that I understand this about how employers yank their contractors here, there and yonder with no regard for them, I will not be taking contract IT jobs ever again.

Given all of this, it should be of little surprise that I care little about what the company’s needs are, what their customers’ needs are. I will probably be getting tossed out of the company after my contract is up, regardless of how well I do, and I wouldn’t necessarily like to have my contract renewed there anyway. I plan to move to another city/state, and that has been my plan for a while and I am applying for jobs in those places…even have one interview lined up. So, I care about putting in my 8 hours and then getting the hell out of there. And even with a permanent position, frankly, I’d be the same way and have been the same way.

Every day this week, I’ve had to let this guy who is training me know that I get off work at X time, because he talks as if I’m going to still be around after that time or like I have time to stick around a little later and do XYZ. I flatout told this guy, “My supervisor said my hours are still the same, so until they say different I’m out at [X] time.” This afternoon, one of the other guys I now work with, this creepy guy, assumed I would still be around late, and my trainer heard me tell him what time I leave. Immediately, my trainer was like, “You’re ready to go home, aren’t you? Do you have kids you’re taking trick-or-treating tonight?” because it’s Halloween in the US.

Look, I know what that question really was–trying to find out if I have kids and is that the reason why I am adamant about leaving work at a certain time. Because having kids is the only legitimate reason for running away from your job, don’t you know. Especially if you’re a woman. My friend Clara lets people know she can’t stay late because of her son all the time or she’s leaving early because of her son, and people accept that. But with me, people are wanting to know why I “have” to leave at X time.

Three things:

1) Halloween is a fake holiday. It’s one of the most pointless days I’ve ever known. I especially can’t stand how there are grown adults who “celebrate” Halloween; they need to grow the f*ck up. Nobody should pay any attention to it, in my opinion, so it’d never have a thing to do with why I’m leaving work.

2) There’s so much wrong with thinking only parents have a legitimate reason to run off from work, including the fact that they probably are actually the main ones who need the damn money if they’re going to see any overtime pay from staying late. The average single person just has bills. Parents have bills and expensive-@ss kids. Yet parents are actually the main ones always trying to leave work early or on time. This guy at my job basically has a newborn, and ever since he had that kid he has never again worked a full day not called Monday (our busiest day) on the job. Yet he says he doesn’t have enough money. He’s an hourly contractor…hmm, he’s leaving after 4-5 hours of work…wonder why he’s not making anything.

He and I need to swap hours. Working 4-5 hours most days is my kind of schitt. They should have put someone like him in my new position (and they could have, but didn’t–wonder why?), where they’re talking about working overtime (which I loathe) and Saturdays (which is just sacrilegious and damn-near something to walk out the door over, especially if you love college football more than anything, as I do). Plus, let’s be real–who is more hands-on with babies and kids, moms or dads? What the hell does he need to be at home all the time for? All he’s going to do is say, “Here, hon, the baby is crying” or “Here, hon, the baby needs to be changed,” hand the kid to the mother and then go sit down in front of the TV or the computer. Sorry, men–I have had this kind of convo with dads before, and you guys just have no idea how little dads help with or do for their kids compared to the kids’ mother.

Ironically, the exact reasons why I don’t have kids are because I don’t want to have to care for anyone–financially or in any other way–and because I want a life and because I want my life to be about me. That includes work–I don’t want a life that is about work. This is where “work-life balance” comes in. Everyone I know who looks on the bright side when it comes to working overtime is a parent–usually, a man–and it’s always about the money.

My observation about women has been that women who have kids tend to know on some level that their life is not theirs anymore, it’s not about them–so they don’t even think that way. They think in terms of what their kids (or husband) need, what’s best for their kids. Kids need things that cost money, however much time you’d rather spend with them. My observation about men is that the vast majority of men care more about making money than the vast majority of women do, for a variety of reasons–probably the three biggest are status, attracting women and what they were taught about being a man growing up. As a single female, I have totally different concerns, concerns that really don’t involve making money. These different concerns leave me trying to figure out how to explain to the moms, dads and single men I know why I value my free time far more than I value the extra money I’ll get by working on Saturday (the extra money being something I don’t value at all). Yet all of them will be home on Saturday or enjoying some activity outside the home and outside of work.

3) Why do I “have” to leave at X time? Because that’s what time I’m scheduled to leave. And I have every right to leave at that time. Whether or not I have kids is immaterial.

One more point before I go–not too long ago, I was reading an article online where the author wondered why people speak of “work-life balance.” Is working really so bad and do people hate their jobs so much that they need to categorically separate it from the rest of their life, the author wondered. At that point, I wondered where in the hell this author has been her entire working life. Seriously, she must be part of the lucky 10-15% of people who loves their job. Ever notice how it’s always writers with real writing jobs, always entertainers who have officially “made it,” always people who work in the media, always people who make big bucks who love their jobs? Gee, I wonder why. No wonder they can’t relate. I know they didn’t start at the top, but the point is they’re there now and now they don’t “get it.”

Pay me a ridiculous amount to dish sports on ESPN three hours a day, and see how much I love my job. Pay me to write ridiculous articles about how I can no longer relate to mere commoners who need work-life balance because I make enough money to actually pay bills and eat as a writer as opposed to having to write on the side like 90% of writers do (myself included). Or how about those ridiculous articles about “do what you love for a living”? You do know that the average person “loves” things that either don’t pay, don’t pay enough to make a living or require expensive schooling only to be shut out of jobs because that person has never had a job in that industry, right? Oh, I forget–you no longer relate to the mere commoner because you’ve got the rare cushy, enjoyable writing job that actually pays bills.

Over the past week, I’ve confirmed that, yes, work and life have to be separated for most people, including myself. I am largely in that category where what I’d love to do generally doesn’t pay enough to make a living (writing and/or technical repair). I would agree with people who say to find a job you can tolerate, but that’s easier said than done. So, my best solution is to find a job I can actually do for the most amount of money I can get, because if I’m going to hate every job I get at some point then I might as well focus on the money. It’s not easy, because caring about money isn’t my nature. But I made more money at my last job, and the positives to that were now I have surpassed my initial savings goal and am on to my next savings goal (which I am close to meeting)…and I have still been able to buy everything I want (except a Mercedes), take trips everywhere I’ve wanted to go and enjoy myself outside of work. Although I hated my last job, it created a pretty decent work-life balance and I never had to work late or on Saturdays.

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Football Gametime Etiquette

Well, those of you who know already know this is the best time of the year–football is back. A lot of people prefer the NFL. I love college football myself and am a diehard Michigan Wolverine. Now, I spent an ojo de la cara to go to the Michigan-Notre Dame game this past weekend, and, though the experience was worth every penny and I’m glad I went to the game, I seriously contemplated after the game whether or not I ever wanted to do it again (before I went right back to making plans to attend the Rose Bowl in California).

Why?

Due to the lack of gametime etiquette in the stadium.

Now, it’s not like this was my first time going to a football game, but this was the first time the etiquette was this out of hand. And I wasn’t the only one who had a problem with it, as I heard an old bitty behind me outside the stadium after the game whining and giving her laundry list of etiquette issues.

This is not a Michigan thing, I’m sure. That’s why I’m posting this message which I’d like to reach football fans far and wide. This is my football gametime etiquette guide for those who attend football games.

Let’s begin:

1) Um…sit the fuck down. I mean, really. If you’re standing, people behind you are forced to stand…and standing for 4 hours at the Michigan-ND game wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do. I bought a ticket for a seat, not for concrete to torture my feet muscles. I know the game was a special occasion–hell, that’s why I ponied up the dough for this game, and I would have quit my job if they had told me I had to work Friday instead of fly up to Michigan, just so I could see Michigan beat ND for the last time at our stadium. But not everything is worth jumping the fuck up and refusing to sit down. “Woo, the running back ran for 2 yards…let’s stand up and get in everybody’s way!” Come on, now.

2) Along the same lines, contrary to popular belief, plenty of women like football. Plenty. So, if you’re a big, tall-@ss man and your seat is in front of a chick, you need to get the fuck out of the way. I don’t care how you do it, but you need to do it. There is really no amount of neck contortion a woman behind a man can do to see the game. It’s probably easier for a guy to duck down a bit and still see what’s going on than anything else. Plus, men are often the first ones who want to stand up in everybody’s way when something happens, and it’s just thoughtless to stand whenever you feel like it vs out of necessity, regardless of sex…but especially so if a woman or kid is sitting behind you.

Stated another, perhaps more acceptable way–be courteous to those around you. You know how expensive seats are, and 9 times out of 10 the person behind you is a fellow fan of the same team, particularly if you’re at a home game. If we’re on the same side, let’s act like it. If we’re not on the same side, let’s show some class anyways. Same goes for noticing whether or not a kid is near you, because plenty of people take young people to these games.

3) Don’t act like you’re the offensive or defensive coordinator. Now, I’m a little guilty of this, admittedly. But there just always seems to be one or two white guys in your section who just have to be heard and just have to spend at least 30% of the game coaching loudly from, like, row 45. If you were the coach, you wouldn’t be in row 45; you’d be on the sideline. If you want to encourage the defense on a critical 3rd down, that’s fine–“come on, D, get an interception” is not coaching. Nobody cares. But if people actually turn back and look at you after something comes out of your mouth, that’s a sign you need to hush. You’re either “encouraging” too often, too loudly or you’re coaching without being on the payroll.

4) Sit in your seat. Don’t be partially in the next seat, and don’t have your @ss hanging all off the back of the bench. My knees really don’t belong in your @ss, especially if you have pink bumps all over it like this one dude at the Michigan game did…dude, I’m glad it turned out I was in the wrong seat, or else who knows what kind of ointment I would have ended up needing for my knees after the game…

5) Sit the fuck down. Yeah, I know I already listed this one, but I can’t stress it enough.

Other tips:

-Taking pictures…okay, this one goes with just the general idea I have tried to stress in several points above about being in the way, blocking people’s view and being courteous. You don’t have to hold both arms 100% in the air in order to get a good pic, especially if everyone would just do as I said and sit the fuck down until absolutely necessary. I take pics and record videos, too, but the phone/camera really should not be above your forehead, if it can be helped, because then you’re blocking other people’s view. And arms/elbows should come into your body, not be all out to the sides or up in the air.

-Drinking and eating, including getting drunk…now, I have never had these issues at a football game, but if you’re eating and drinking you’ve got to take care not to get schitt on other people. In fact, to me, as cramped as the space was at the Michigan-ND game, people shouldn’t even have been trying to eat or drink in the stands. I mean, I can’t even move my arms, but the fucker beside me is having a good ole time with, like, a hotdog and a beverage. You’re not at home. All that body movement–bending over to pick up stuff, bending your elbow out to bring a drink to your lips, etc–infringes on other people’s space. Plus, it’s common sense to me to just eat before the damn game, especially a night game.

-I don’t know what to say about alcohol…I don’t think we can drink at Michigan Stadium, so people get drunk before a night game. Luckily, I wasn’t near any drunk people during the game, and I’m sure they can be obnoxious during the game. But some drunk Notre Dame fan was harassing me and my cabbie earlier on gameday. Rivalry games are #1 to me, more important than winning championships. It’s fun to hate other teams, other schools, people with the wrong color on (okay, that makes me sound like I’m in a street gang…really, Michigan is a college gang). But getting drunk and then harassing other fans…[shakes her head]. If I seriously harass a fan of another team, I’m going to be a wimp about it and do it online anonymously while 100% in my right mind; I’m not going to do it out in the open (drunk or not) or without mainly joking. That’s why I hate Michigan State fans more than Ohio State fans–OSU fans actually tend to be more cool to Michigan fans in person vs the @ssholes that MSU fans are.

But what to do about this? You can’t make people not get drunk; it’d probably be easier to make people sit the fuck down. And you definitely can’t control drunk people; gametime etiquette would be the farthest thing from their mind.

-Listen, I went to ESPN’s College GameDay on campus earlier on Saturday, and I went to the game later on Saturday. It was hot and humid all day, and I spent well over 7 hours outdoors. So, to be perfectly frank…I am sure I was guilty of not smelling all that good during the game. I realized during the game, “Yeah, I should have cleaned up a bit before the game.” Anybody going to an outdoor football game needs to be mindful before they leave home that they might assault people around them with funk and take all preventative measures. Next time, I’ll remember. Sorry to those who sat near me…

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The Cheerful vs The Sleepyheads: Saying Good Morning

[To learn 6 reasons why someone might not like to say “Good Morning,” feel free to skip down to the bold print]

I am not always particularly grouchy when I’m sick, but this time around I am. I have been an @ss this week at work, which is what keeping this blog is supposed to prevent. I am quite a bit more “leave me the hell alone”-ish than usual, which means I’m not going to bother acting with co-workers the way I normally do. One of the things I can’t begin to fake this week is all this “Good Morning” bullschitt.

I remember sitting in my sister’s house in Chicago a couple of weeks ago, whining to her and my mother about how I can’t stand all that “Good Morning,” “Good Morning,” “Good Morning” nonsense I face when I get to work. This was never really anything that annoyed me until I began my current job. I mean…my previous job, for example, was in a corporate environment. People would come in and go to their cubicles and maybe screw around for a bit before they actually started to work. A couple of people might say “Good Morning” to me, but not many. Because it was so few people, I could muster enough energy to at least nod.

My current job is at a big warehouse, where we work on all kinds of electronics. We work in sections…you know, you sit by the people who have the same manager as you. There are maybe 11 or 12 people in my section, and it’s not even just these people who want to say “Good Morning” and receive a response–it’s, like, almost every-fucking-person in the warehouse. Man, I can’t hang, and now “Good Morning” makes me want to pull my hair out.

Being sick, today I was basically like, “Fuck this schitt,” and ignored some people. Then, being sick, it’s not as if I feel like doing any work or am particularly scared of getting fired (because at least I can go get in the bed)…so I did what I always do when I get intellectually curious about a topic and whipped out the ole SG3 and googled people’s opinions on this “Good Morning” schitt.

Once again, I find a huge gap in understanding between people who aren’t into “Good Morning” and people who like to say it. You know me–I like to try and bridge these lack of understandings.

So, let’s talk about this discussion thread where, like, 90% of the responders are overreacting about people not saying “Good Morning” back to them. I’ll provide a few quotes and then respond.

Lately, it has apparently become OK to be really rude to coworkers, especially first thing in the mornings.
I have a few coworkers that won’t say a damn thing when I greet them in the morning. They’ll look right at me, and they definitely hear me, but they don’t say a word–not even a “go to hell” from them.
Am I getting worked up over nothing? I don’t have thin skin, and I’m not particularly a morning person myself. But I do think it’s common courtesy to be polite to folks.

Well, is it rude? Maybe. I’m sure I have greeted or acknowledged someone before and they didn’t respond or acted as if they didn’t see/know me, and I’m sure I felt the person was an @ss. But you know what? I just told myself not to greet/acknowledge that person again and shook it off. One of my mottos in life is to treat people the way they treat you. I take my cues from other people when it comes to social interaction, meaning I will do what they do to me only, which means I act different ways with different people and treat everyone differently. I read personalities. And I act and react accordingly.

So, basically, my thought is you don’t have to say “Good Morning” to everyone. If you like to say “Good Morning,” I think you should say it to the people who seem receptive to it and simply leave other people be without getting offended or too offended. It is simply a personality difference.

Along the same lines…

Just my opinion here, but i always feel a “Vibe” from people who are deliberately being rude. I would prefer to get along with everyone(Especially in a working envoirnment), but it’s just not realistic. There will always be people that are not happy no matter what. In this particular case, i wouldn’t say a word after they ignorned me. And i also wouldn’t say “Good morning” or much else to them unless it was required for a task at work. Shrug it off, and consider it one less “personality” to put up with.
It’s one of 2 things. Either they don’t hear you, which you stated you don’t think is the case. Or they don’t respect you enough to be polite. If i respect someone, i do my best to be polite even when i’m in a bad mood(Aka morning time).

There are a lot of comments in that thread where people talk about those who don’t respond or don’t respond “correctly” as being rude, miserable, grumpy, unhappy, disrespectful, hateful…or whatever. Not saying “Good Morning” doesn’t always have anything to do with these things. It doesn’t mean you can’t get along with this person. This person just doesn’t want to, for whatever reason, say “Good Morning.” I will provide several of my own reasons in a little bit. But a lot of these responses are people reading too much into someone’s lack of response, and reading incorrectly, might I add.

Look, I’m from the South, so I believe in good manners. But there’s a fine line between manners (or if you want to call it “polite”/”common courtesy”) and trying to force something on people, which is why I say to greet the people who are open to it and leave others alone. If you keep greeting people who never greet you with an expectation regarding behavior, then you are moving over from having good manners to trying to force someone to respond the way you want them to based on your thought processes…and you can’t force people to do anything. You might think everyone should say “Good Morning,” but not everyone believes that. I’m not going to go to New York and lecture people about how they need to do things us Southerners believe is right because it’s what we were taught growing up. Indeed, I adjusted to how people behaved in the Midwest when I lived there and didn’t get on the internet all offended because it wasn’t the case that 80% of all strangers were grinning in my face like they do in the South. My sister and I talked about it when we both lived in the Midwest, and she used to think people in the Midwest were rude. But after being there 10 years I think she has adjusted, as well.

In other words, what you might consider “common courtesy” is still an opinion and a belief system–it’s far from being American culture or the law. There will always be people who don’t subscribe to what you think is common. I wonder how these “Good Morning” people would feel if I said I think they are complete annoying morons for being so damn happy early in the morning, which is totally what I think. It wouldn’t be tolerated, even though they expect us to tolerate them and the opinions in that thread. Still, I’m not the one whose opinion when they say “Good Morning” makes me damn-near want to report them to my manager and never speak to them again. It’s crazy.

I dont like the grumpy morning people, but it seems like many people are grumpy in the morning. So i just let it slide.
Funny thing is, most of the grumpy people are NON-coffee drinkers.
Maybe they should try a 1/2 cup in the morning. hahaha

Yeah, no. It’s true, I don’t drink coffee…and I’m not about to. Coffee not only tastes bad, but it makes your breath stink. Yeah, I said (wrote) it. Your breath stinks, coffee guzzler. Plus, like I’m really about to start drinking nasty-@ss coffee to accommodate your need to hear “Good Morning” back from me. Get a life, because this is why I think you’re a moron–you want me to change to accommodate you. There are plenty of people willing to say “Good Morning” to you, so fuck off the ones who aren’t.

Boy, if that’s the biggest problem you have at work I’d say count your blessings and enjoy your good fortune…

I mean, seriously. And you people think I like to complain about nothing.

So, why don’t I want to say “Good Morning” to you?

1) First and foremost, there’s no such thing as a “good morning.” In other words, “I’m not a morning person.” But “there’s no such thing” is far more accurate, to me. There is absolutely nothing to be happy about at 7am, people. Fair point about being happy to see another day, but, then again, it’s not as if I’m life’s biggest fan, in case you couldn’t tell by the name of my blog.

Now, does not believing in good mornings make me a grumpy @sshole in general? Not really. You just need to wait to say “Good Morning” to me until, at the earliest, 10am. In fact, not only do I not want to say “Good Morning” to you as soon as I step foot in the door, I don’t want to say anything to you. I want to find a nice little four-wall enclosure and hide in it. Has nothing to do with not liking you, respect, or anything but not understanding why in the hell work starts so fucking early and lasts so fucking long. Baby, at 7, 8 and 9am, I am still mentally, vocally and emotionally asleep. Get over it.

2) I don’t have the energy. For one thing, it doesn’t matter what time I go to sleep, I am a night owl by nature…so I physically will not be “all there” in the mornings, no matter what. Add to that 50 million people wanting a greeting, and I really don’t have the energy.

This point about energy is especially important for the “just be polite and say it back” crowd. Anytime you’re being, doing, saying something you don’t mean, it takes more energy than being sincere. Being fake is a lot of work, and I should know because I don’t naturally fit any of the “supposed to”s when it comes to personality at work. I have to spend so much of my day pretending and talking when I don’t feel like it, and that’s already for the sake of what other people want from me since it matters so much in keeping your job nowadays. So, if you’re asking me to be a little more fake first thing in the morning, basically 30-45 minutes after I’ve woken up, put energy I don’t have into getting ready for and getting to work, and already not being a morning person…it’s not going to happen…especially not with the quantity of people expecting it.

3) I think there’s a difference here between people who like their job and people who don’t, or at least people who like the people at their job. If you wake up in the morning happy to go to work, you’re more likely to be a “Good Morning” person. If you wake up in the morning liking what you do, same thing. If you wake up knowing you’re about to interact with and have some laughs with this person or that person, same thing.

My personal philosophy is work is work; it’s nothing to like. I can’t deal with hating a job or a job that makes me physically ill, which is how my last two jobs were (migraines every day). But there’s never going to be anything that makes me want to get up in the morning and go to work, as far as a job. I would always rather get up and watch “Mike & Mike” and “The Herd” on ESPN–always. The closest I’ve gotten to hopping up out the bed happy in the morning to go to work is when I had a co-worker on whom I had a crush, and that was years ago. I have friends at work and everything, but I can so do without them. People who thrive on social interaction far more than I do will look forward to seeing their work friends more than I do. I wake up saying, “I can’t wait to come home”…and that’s before I even leave the house (or the bed). [Shrugs]

4) If you have a problem with people who don’t respond to “Good Morning,” think about how many people are at your job. I’ve mentioned quantity several times. If someone is like me, i.e. not outgoing or very sociable, or not into mornings, having several different people come by expecting you to talk to them gets so…annoying. As I mentioned, there’s only so much energy you can gather if you don’t have it. Speaking to 15 different people in the first hour or so of work is exhausting if it’s not naturally your thing. So remember, you’re not the only one coming at this person.

5) What I really don’t get and can’t stand is…I’m sure some of these people who are throwing a huge fit about people not responding to “Good Morning” are people who never speak to you otherwise throughout the day. In that case, I especially don’t feel I “owe” you any effort or speech in the morning. For me, people who work in my section are different from these other people who walk by throughout the day. My friends are different, and people who have been very nice or helpful to me since I’ve been at this place are different. I am far more likely to scrounge up the energy to say something to people in my section, my friends and people who have done something for me. I don’t fucking know all these other people, which is all the more reason for them to not throw a hissy fit. So, if you’re losing it over some very random person not acknowledging you, you really need to stop and smell the nasty-@ss coffee.

6) Almost forgot…this stuff about “common courtesy,” being rude or polite, etc…these same people whining, I’m sure, do plenty of things that others can consider rude and don’t do other things that people consider common courtesy–things that are probably more important than saying “Good Morning.” The most common thing I see people do, which I think is rude and inconsiderate, is linger in the way. Sometimes people look right in your face and then continue barely moving when you’re trying to get somewhere. When I was in school, students commonly hogged sidewalks and doorways and never thought anything of it all the while others are needing to get by. Today, one of those “Good Morning” b!tches did this, and in the mood I’m in this week I know I said out loud something like, “Gosh, get the fuck…out…of…the…way“…just don’t know if it was loud enough to be heard, as I had my earphones in my ears playing music.

Different strokes…she appreciates a “Good Morning” while I appreciate people moving their self-centered @sses when they see other people in need of the same space. That’s all.

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The Media Is Changing, For Better and For Worse

I was at work today trying to find a way to amuse myself, as usual, when I found that daily thought-provoking link. This was incredibly timely, given that I just applied for some sports writing positions.

Now, I know that I have some readers who are either not from the US or who seem to be a little bit more Europeanized than Americanized. I also know that such people tend not to “get” Americans’ deal with sports, particularly American football. If they like anything, it’s often garbage sports like soccer. So, I’ll try my best to make this something you can recognize.

You don’t have to read the whole link above. The short of it is someone wrote to a very successful sports journalist for advice on how to get into sports media as a career, and the sports journalist allegedly responded. For the purposes of my post, really, the most essential thing the alleged author of the email says is this:

Most of my good friends who are columnists for major newspapers and 
websites or work as anchors or commentators on ESPN also are not fans and 
also don’t take sports very seriously. 

You CANNOT be a fan of a team, or even a sport, and do this job 
effectively. I care little what my alma mater, Tennessee, does in sports. 
If you are a fan, it tempers everything you write and say. Again, my 
friends who are award-winning sports columnists in Los Angeles, Dallas, New 
York, Chicago and other cities are much more interested in writing, reading, 
the theater, history, and they have a passion for doing the job, not a 
passion for the subject. 

If you do read the whole thing, I would say that most of what the author wrote is gold. And, certainly, it is beyond me why anyone would want to be a sports writer if he/she doesn’t love to write. Writing was probably my first love. Sports writing or not, I will always write. It doesn’t matter what it’s about or if it’s just a personal blog or what I officially do for a living.

But I think the excerpt above reflects yet another basic generational misunderstanding. In other words, this guy is “old” and increasingly out of touch, at least on a couple of points.

See, I think most of us recognize that “media” is rapidly becoming less professional, less airtight, more technology-based…and more biased. Almost every time I watch ESPN, I see a member of the sports media who clearly seems biased. And some of them have, more or less, confirmed they have some bias. I don’t think anyone who follows college football on ESPN doubts that Kirk Herbstreit loves the Ohio State Buckeyes, and he really doesn’t try to hide it. He played football for the school, so I don’t have a problem with this–especially since he is one of the college football analysts whose opinion I look forward to hearing most. I think he’s a very good analyst. But he’s biased. He’s a fan.

Not just to pick on rival Ohio State–let me whip out examples from my Michigan Wolverines.

About USA Today sports writer and fellow Wolverine Nicole Auerbach, taken right from her little bio on the site:

Nicole Auerbach joined USA TODAY in the fall of 2011 to oversee online college basketball coverage. She’s a New Jersey native and a big fan of Big Ten football and basketball. She firmly believes Madness need not be limited to just March.

For those of you who don’t know, our Michigan is in the Big Ten conference. That’s probably why she’s a Big Ten fan, and I know that’s why I’m a Big Ten fan.

And this is from Chantel Jennings, another Michigan Wolverine, from her days at The Michigan Daily. She is now a sports writer over at espn.com for WolverineNation:

…[I]n four years, I’ve gone from being a premed student to an English major, I’ve been an activist, a GDI, a sorority girl, back to a GDI, an almost-IM sports champion, a volunteer in prisons, a basketball coach, a Spaniard, a Daily writer, a Daily photographer, a student and a Michigan fanI’ve done my best to separate myself from being a fan at the events I covered. But as I sat on the baseline at the Duke/Michigan basketball game this year, I wanted to tell Coach Beilein that I think he’s a great coach. More importantly, I wanted to tell him I think he’s a good man.

Bleck. Beilein. A discussion for another day. Anyways. Moving on…one more example.

Dana Jacobson, a former ESPN anchor, took being a Michigan fan/alum a bit too far by taking a huge dig at another one of our rivals, Notre Dame:

Sources have confirmed that Jacobson, a co-host of “First Take” on ESPN2, currently is serving a one-week suspension because of her behavior at a Jan. 11 roast for ESPN Radio personalities Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic at Atlantic City, N.J…Jacobson reportedly said “F*** Notre Dame,” “F*** Touchdown Jesus,” and “F*** Jesus” in an attempt to talk trash to Mike and Mike co-host Mike Golic, a former Notre Dame football player.

Yes, we take these rivalries seriously, people. I, myself, have trashed rival Michigan State in writing before just because they’re our rival (well…and because they beat us, which is unacceptable).

Here’s the thing:

Biases and a lack of professionalism in journalism are not just in sports journalism. And bad writing in journalism is growing in part because more and more people have access to some type of journalistic platform. And sorry, but blogs have somewhat become journalistic platforms. Why, several major sports companies in the US have bloggers. That’s because these companies are smart enough to see the way technology is changing the media and journalism, and they are rolling with it instead of fighting it and applying old standards, a la “you can’t be a fan” and “you can’t make it writing for some online blog.”

I have to lament this on one hand and thank it on another, because I guarantee you I would have no hope of being a professional sports writer otherwise. Another one of those writers over at WolverineNation came from a blog, and the blog from which he came is run by a guy who has gotten opportunities outside of that blog–a guy who is a respected, widely-accepted source by pretty much everyone in sports when it comes to Michigan sports, particularly Michigan football. Oh, yeah…also pretty sure he’s a Michigan fan. Giving fans journalistic access is all the rage right now, and I don’t think that’s going to stop. And obviously, some of these fans are going to write well enough and report well enough to get bigger and better opportunities.

But there are times when I watch journalists–any kind–interviewing someone, and I’m just sitting there thinking, “This person is an ass.” And I’m thinking that because the journalist is showing too much of a bias. I am not too young to remember when journalists used to calmly ask questions and just sit there and listen to the responses. The response was for the public to render a verdict on–it wasn’t for the journalist to do that. The journalists are there to find the truth and bring the public access to knowledge. But nowadays, the journalists are sitting there judging, and they come into the interview with their minds made up about the people they interview. They don’t hide it well, either. And so the interviews sometimes come off more as attacks, not interviews.

Being a sports fan, I read a lot of sports sources. I used to read AOL FanHouse, which is now rolled into Sporting News. Apparently, Sporting News ditched a lot of the FanHouse writers. Since I like to write sports pieces and since I like to think of myself as mature, I rarely respond to sports pieces with any sort of personal attack on the writer–typical behavior for sports fans. But I probably complained at least half the time in FanHouse comments about the writers. Why? They sucked. One thing fans love to comment is “I can do your job.” FanHouse was the one place I ever wrote anything like that. Pieces always had grammar, spelling and/or factual errors. I’d bet you the writers Sporting News axed were the ones I complained about. Most sports fans whine about the content of sports pieces, but my gripe is almost always the quality of the writing if I’m complaining. Unfortunately, there are now plenty of writers out there–not just in sports–who can’t write and also aren’t being edited well. So, I will give that to the writer of the email all the way at the beginning of this post.

I will also give him that it’s challenging to be a fan, have biases and–if you want to be good at what you do and be fair–be a good sports writer. Hopefully, it’s not impossible. But his email is not the first time I’ve thought about that issue. I thought about it while writing on my college football blog, and I thought about it while watching guys like Kirk Herbstreit on TV who clearly had their team and conference allegiances.

So, I did something that I found myself wishing others in sports media would just come out and do:

I admitted my biases to my readers. In plain English.

I’m a Michigan fan and a Michigan alum, so it goes without saying that I have issues with Ohio State, Michigan State and Notre Dame.

I also just do not like USC and Florida. I just don’t.

I’m a Big Ten fan, so I don’t like the SEC. The Big Ten/SEC thing is a sports version of the North vs the South. I’m from the South and everything, but my loyalty is to my school and the schools with which it is aligned. I also just happen to not like anything that is shoved down my throat, and the sports media does an excellent job of shoving the SEC down everyone’s throat. By the same token, I can’t stand LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Tim Tebow, Peyton Manning and if Tom Brady weren’t a Wolverine I probably wouldn’t be able to stand him.

So, there you have it. I would repeat this little list on any sports job I get if allowed, just for the purpose of full disclosure. Has this admission freed me in my writing? Not entirely. I have had all kinds of issues with admitting that the SEC is the best conference in college football. I am just now developing the ability to admit this, and the SEC has probably been the best conference over the past 5 or 6 years.

But I have written that college football needs Ohio State, Notre Dame, USC and Florida to be elite teams, and that I respect Ohio State and Notre Dame. My second favorite team behind Michigan is Wisconsin, and Wisconsin lost a game at the last second to the hated Michigan State last year. At the end of the season, I wrote that this game was the second best game of the season (after TCU-Baylor, two teams I couldn’t care less about, personally). And once, I received a message from someone who said they liked my writing because I am more down-to-earth than other Michigan fans…in other words, I don’t have all this blind loyalty when it comes to Michigan. Michigan’s a popular pick when it comes to winning the Big Ten and going to the Rose Bowl this coming football season. But I don’t hesitate to tell any and everybody that Michigan will probably lose more games this season than they did last season, won’t play in any BCS bowl and Michigan State will likely win the Big Ten (which probably will include yet another win over Michigan, at which point I will vomit…er, in private).

In other words, it’s like Jennings wrote in the Daily–some of us are fans, i.e. biased, but anyone in the media–or trying to be–needs to separate from bias and exercise the utmost professionalism.

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Follow Your Passion…But Which One?

A few weeks ago, I was sitting at work reading blogs, and there was this one post about giving up a passion and asking readers if they’d ever done that. I remember writing that I had–I’d given up a career in the music industry. But I also wrote that I believe that everyone has more than one passion.

Here we are a few weeks later, and I am faced with the truth of that very statement.

I love technology…always have. And I was starting to feel that I’m finally making progress in terms of really making a career in IT. But this was a tough week at work. One day was so bad that I didn’t speak to anyone for the rest of the day after work. I basically locked myself in my room, and that was the kind of thing I used to do maybe once a week on average at the last place I worked because I’d get off work so angry. I don’t want that to start happening with this job.

I used that evening to just think about what the real problem was, because it wasn’t really the bad day, per se. And then the next day I discussed it with my mother. Now, my mother is interesting–she is always giving advice when you don’t want it. But if you ask her, she is utterly unhelpful. She’s suddenly all “whatever you think is best,” and when I’m asking is the one time I don’t want to hear that. So, I told her this before I told her the issue, which is, more or less, what I’ve been telling you on this blog for a while now.

I basically told her that the job is not tech enough for me, and I don’t see myself being able to learn the kinds of things I wanted to or thought I would learn when I accepted the job. I mentioned that job at Michigan that I saw available a couple of weeks ago–the one I wanted to be able to maybe apply for a year from now–and I said that with the way my current job is if I did apply for that job at Michigan next year I wouldn’t even be able to do that job unless I came home from work every day and just learned stuff on my own (which I really should be doing anyway, but I’d get the Michigan job because they’d assume my current job taught me the things I’d need to learn to do their job…and I do think jobs should prepare you to move up/on, even if indirectly). So, basically, I’m not developing many new skills, and the ones I have are not being used and probably would waste away to some degree in this position.

My mother agreed with this. She said that when I first told her what I was doing, it sounded like receptionist work. Well, exactly. That’s my issue. She asked about opportunities for advancement (basically, what is a way for me to do more technical work there), and I told her the only thing I’d be able to do is study and learn about servers on my own and then I’d be able to get one of those positions there. However, I have never been interested in working on servers, although I already know a little bit–it was one of the things I was asked about in my job interview, and the guy who asked me about it responded that what I know is “90% of what they do.” (“They” are the guys who work on the servers, not people who do my job.) I’ve only ever been interested in repair/building computers, networking and programming, and I’m already trying to learn about networking and programming. I don’t want/need to add servers to the list.

The funny thing is when the guy said what I know is 90% of what they do…I haven’t seen that that’s totally accurate, but I have definitely seen that a lot of calls we get are server-related issues, which means I hand a lot of calls off to the server guys, i.e. I’m not doing a lot of tech work. Again, I feel like I take calls for other people all day (as well as all the crap from angry clients who think I am responsible for causing/fixing problems when, in actuality, it’s either nothing to do with my company or it’s the techs who actually do handle the problems). Other people at my job are fine with this, and maybe that’s why some of them have had the same job for almost a decade. I can’t imagine having a position that is more entry level for almost 10 years, and a lot of the tech geeks on tech geek forums tend to agree with me…they think, really, you shouldn’t have those jobs for more than a year or two if you truly have what it takes in IT.

Anyway, I must have been due a miracle, because I actually managed to get some advice from my mother–find another job.

And then bam. Same day and everything. I was surfing the internet, and I saw an ad for a sports writer position.

See, for the past few years, sports have been my other passion outside of technology. Back in 2007, I started a fan blog on espn.com, and I also wrote a bit at Bleacher Report. It was just for fun, and I didn’t get paid. I didn’t write at Bleacher Report for that long, but I kept blogging at espn.com–maybe because I am on that site every single day. I didn’t think anyone read that blog; I thought it was just for me. But, apparently, ESPN hired some community editors or something to pay attention to the blogs and kind of showcase some of the better stuff from the fan community.

Suddenly, I’m getting comments and notices from the community editors. “We featured your post [name of the post] in [blah blah blah]” and “On [blah blah blah date at blah blah blah time] your post will be featured on the front page of espn.com” (the latter I completely missed, by the way, because I was too busy watching bowl games and writing blog posts to put on another site). Then ESPN started the whole SportsNation thing with a TV show by that name, and now their blogging section is called SportsNation. So, I started getting messages saying they featured whatever post in their SportsNation section. And then another fan blogger there started a group for the best bloggers at espn.com and he sent me an invite. So, I used the attention and audience I was getting over there to link to pieces I was writing for other sites, and for a few years I basically had two jobs. Sports blogging wasn’t really paying that much, so I always had to keep another job. I remember telling someone that it’d be awesome if I had a position that allowed me to travel and go to a bunch of games during the college football season. I’d cover football, and that would be my actual job.

The last time I submitted a football post, it was January, the end of bowl season. I still had some more pieces I’d written that I wanted to submit, but I never did. In the last piece I posted, I wrote about the bowl games. But I also wrote that I was done. With espn.com in particular, I was sick of their horrible web infrastructure, which sometimes made it difficult to format posts or even just to post. But in terms of sports writing in particular, I was kind of tired of juggling it with another job and also tired of not just being a fan. I couldn’t watch games without thinking about what I’d write and deadlines, and it’d totally take my weekends, which meant I never had a day off work during the fall and some of the winter.

So, when I said I was done, I was. I hadn’t thought about writing anything since then. When I wrote a post here about my dream job, I didn’t think about sports writing, although I did say that one of my dream jobs would be to work in Michigan’s athletic department. Truthfully, I could have expanded that to just saying working in sports, although I’d love to work at Michigan. But I have never really actively pursued sports as my career, and I’ve thought about that a lot more in recent years. I used to play basketball when I was younger, and when it really would have mattered in terms of opening career opportunities for me I wasn’t interested, i.e. high school and college. A few years ago, I started thinking about what if I had taken basketball more seriously and played college basketball. I’m short and not that tough, so I probably never would have played in the WNBA. But it still could have opened a lot of doors, and I probably wouldn’t find things such as working in Michigan’s athletic department or being Michigan’s women’s basketball coach to be unrealistic.

In short, I guess I found working in technology to be more realistic than working in sports. Until a few days ago.

I was looking at the job ad, and it was almost everything I wanted. I’d become an actual member of the media. I’d get press credentials. I’d get to go to games. I’d get paid. I’d get to write pretty much every day.

The problems?

I’d get paid regardless, but I’d get paid more the more traffic I generated. That means that, at least initially, I probably would still have to work another job. Come the end of August, this would be a problem…because the end of August is when college football starts back up. Because my current job doesn’t require much from me, it’d be easy to sit at work, keep up with football and write as much as I need to during the summer. But in the fall, how could I do all of that and go to games? I know my local airport. Even if I wanted to attempt this crazy schedule, I know I would not always be able to get flights out on Friday evening and make it to a game on Saturday, then get back home on Sunday and write. At some point, I would not be able to keep both of these jobs, and it’s unlikely I’d find another job that would allow me the flexibility I’d need.

The other big issue is I’d probably have to just cover Michigan. I’d rather not just cover Michigan. What I’ve really wanted is my own column to just wax on and on about whatever in college football. Now, I don’t mean that I should just be able to not pay dues and walk into a company and be the featured columnist. I just mean I’d ideally be one of many columnists rather than being confined to one team. I’d love to be at a Michigan game every weekend, but it’d be incredible to go to different places and not be limited in what I write given that I love the entire sport and not just one team.

Given these two things, I debated whether or not I should even apply. But I finally did because I’m curious. There’s no guarantee that anything will come of it, but if it does I’m still not sure what to do. I hesitated to even write this post because I don’t want to jinx anything. I guess it’s no big deal and might even be a good thing if I don’t get the position. But honestly, usually when I apply for a sports writing job, I get the job. There has only been one time so far when I haven’t gotten a position, and, ironically, that was the one time a woman was doing the hiring. I used to worry when I submitted applications and writing samples to men that being a woman would hurt me, but it never did.

So, now that I’ve told you I almost always get the position, I probably won’t. 😉

We’ll see.

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