Tag Archives: notre dame

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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Forced Socializing At Work

Last year, I wrote about how I did a little online research to find out exactly how introverts are perceived at work, and I responded to some of the opinions I found online in this post. One of the points I made is about how employers seem to be incorporating personalities and being sociable into work environments, which is quite disadvantageous to introverts.

One thing employers like to do nowadays is force socializing. For example, sometimes you have after-work parties and everyone is expected to be there. The thought that someone wouldn’t want to be there never crosses the organizer’s mind. The job I had prior to my last job–the one I had while I wrote the post to which I link above–forced socializing at times. I remember on my last day working there, the other techs had been called into one of the owners’ office to talk about some after-work holiday party–either Thanksgiving or Christmas, can’t remember. As if you don’t spend enough time with people at work…yeah, you really want to show up after work to hang with them some more.

And not long before I left that place, there was some other little thing forced on us…I can’t remember why, but we were all expected to bring a dish–not even just bring one, but actually cook it. Oh, yeah, it was a Potluck. Fuck that schitt, man–I don’t cook. But the b!tch who organized it would have been pissed if I declined to bring something, because she was precisely that type of woman. In fact, I think she sent me and a few other people an email after a while because we hadn’t signed up yet, and, if I remember correctly, in the email she claimed we didn’t have to bring anything. But you could tell–we were indirectly being pressured. You better believe I headed to Kroger, purchased a little thingy of potato salad, put it in a plastic tupperware container as if I had prepared it and was done with those b!tches.

This was that place where everyone I worked with was white, and I noticed cultural differences all the time. This Potluck was one of those times. For some reason, the old[er] non-tech bitties and I ended up talking about how my father is a better cook than my mother and how my mother almost never cooks. They started with all this crap like, “Oh, my gosh, a woman who doesn’t cook…how do you keep a man” or whatever they said, but that was basically the gist. They couldn’t fathom a woman not cooking. And this is cultural both racially and generationally. I’m not saying black women don’t cook, but black women are more often the sole breadwinners, make more money than their husbands or just have some sort of job that keeps her out of the home. This is not how white households are. A lot of older white women are housewives or have somewhat of a housewife mentality because they grew up with mothers who were housewives or during a time when a lot of mothers were housewives (where they lived). Ask a black woman, and if she’s being real with you she’ll let you know that most of us think being a housewife is one of the dumbest things we’ve ever heard.

Black women have too much going on to cook all the time, and their roles often overlap that which has been traditionally thought of as “male roles”–especially more often than white women’s roles do (as I said, black women tend to make more money than their male counterparts and are also more likely to even be employed than their male counterparts are. Both of my sisters make more money than their husbands do–one of my sisters is her household’s sole breadwinner). And you also now have a generation of all kinds of women who want to be working professionals and will not even be home at dinner time, let alone cook it. Nevertheless, their comments kind of pissed me off. This is the kind of crap in which I’m forced to participate with these damn Potlucks and holiday parties and other nonsense I don’t want to attend.

So, this morning I just decided “thanks, but no thanks” and skipped the stupid little breakfast party that my co-worker Linda told me about. I contemplated my childhood and how, whether I was around or not at certain things at school, no one really seemed to know or care. Why would anyone notice or care if I don’t go to this breakfast thing? I figured no one would give a schitt. And even if they did, I hadn’t been told this thing was mandatory, and you almost always get a pass when you can say “no one told me” or “I didn’t know.”

Oh…my…world…turns out almost everybody noticed and cared…including my manager. I could barely even listen to my music for all the people harassing me about why I wasn’t at the breakfast. That’s really all I wanted to do today–listen to music, get my work done and go home. I didn’t want to sit around fake-laughing at co-workers making fun of each other…um, co-workers who are pretty much all at least in their 30s, but they make fun of each other all day. Even the manager gets in on it. Gimme a break…The most peace I had all day at work was the hour they were all gone to breakfast. Plus, only certain people are allowed to make fun of me, and that doesn’t include anyone I barely know, like co-workers.

I was really wrong about how little people would care, too. For starters, turns out that while I was relieving a craving for Dr. Pepper, Linda told another co-worker to make sure he brings me to the breakfast. I didn’t know this at the time, so when he was insisting that I come with him and another co-worker, I was thinking, “Dude, what the hell…?” He just kept telling me to come with him and wanted to know why I didn’t want to go. The co-worker who was with him happens to be related to my manager, and I’m sure she heard me when I told this guy, “I’m not going to that.” I’m sure she heard the way I said it, too, and I would bet she told our manager.

Anyway, when the co-worker responsible for bringing me to the breakfast came back, he told me Linda had food at her station. My friend/co-worker Clara kept telling me about food that was left over. It was like these people were trying to make me eat. My co-worker Corey, with whom I worked on a project last week, said something to me about not going to the breakfast. He tries to make me eat, as well, because I told him that I never eat breakfast and almost never eat lunch. He probably thinks I’m anorexic, but I definitely don’t look it. Linda acted almost horrified that I didn’t go and wanted to know if my co-worker had told me about it, where it was located, etc–that’s how I found out she told him to bring me.

And, of course, my manager said something about it. He basically let me know indirectly that garbage like that is mandatory for social reasons and that I should be at the next one. Why is stuff that people at work think up as ways to have “fun” mandatory? “Fun” and “mandatory” don’t go together, and that’s why my job is just my job to me. It has nothing to do with socializing, and, to me, it shouldn’t. Jobs are about making a living, paying for stuff that is actually fun (like my upcoming trip to Michigan to see my alma mater beat our rival Notre Dame) and paying bills; otherwise, I wouldn’t be working. See? Mandatory, not fun. That’s why all I think about at work is getting my work done, listening to music (to help me get through un-fun work) and going home. I’m not thinking about food or hanging with co-workers. (And yes, I do know work is not 100% mandatory…see the “housewife” stuff above.)

Clara and Linda didn’t let it go, either. Clara asked me again later why I didn’t go to the breakfast, and I just told her I didn’t think anyone would notice. She said that not that many people work in our area at work, so people would notice. But, I pointed out to her, I only really communicate with her at work (so why would others notice if I’m not there?). She took that as my saying that I didn’t go because I wouldn’t have anyone to talk to, which is part of it but not the point, and she said I could have sat by her.

I know that, to many people, socializing is the way they deal with un-fun, mandatory work. And they can’t even begin to understand people like me who just want to work, just want to listen to music and don’t want to go to social events or stand around half the day talking. And, for me, it’s not even about not liking my co-workers–I like most of them, and I’m fine with them one-on-one. But a room full of them, where we’re expected to socialize for an hour, is not my idea of a good time. I don’t really think it’s any introvert’s idea of a good time. It’s actually more anxiety-producing than anything else. That’s what I don’t think people understand when they come up with these work social events.

Whatever people might think about this communication style, I speak to people who speak to me…meaning if someone doesn’t initiate a conversation with me, we’re not going to have a conversation. There are very few exceptions. Some of it is just not being interested in talking to most people. Some of it is a lack of social skills. But some of it is, again, thinking back on my childhood. For example, when I was growing up, if some people were having a conversation and you inserted yourself into it–let’s say these are black people–oftentimes one of them would say something like, “Ain’t nobody talking to you!” Or “This is an A and B conversation–C your way out.” White people might just look at you like you’re crazy.

So, I’ve realized over the last few months that I believe people shouldn’t enter conversations unless they’re invited to do so. Something has changed over the years, because now if you don’t go up to people and just start talking, people want to know why you never speak to anybody.

Now I’m just wondering how I’m going to be able to tolerate the next social event at work. After I spoke with my manager, I thought about how I hope my job doesn’t have another one of these things before I move on to another job. Unfortunately, because of this trend where work and social life are expected to intertwine, the problem is not going to go away, nearly regardless of where I work. It’ll probably just get worse…until someone comes up with “Sensitivity Training In the Workplace” geared towards understanding and working with introverts.

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The Reality of Online Relationships

Some of you might know that I’m a big sports junkie, but particularly college football and college basketball. I cover college football some and have been doing so for over five years. Well, there’s this big story in college football that I want to tie to the real world, because, ultimately, the story has nothing to do with college football…and the commentary by the football guys shows how out of touch they are while demonstrating a flawed way of thinking among many people, including many outside of sports.

You see, there is this football player at Notre Dame, Manti Te’o. I’ve watched the guy all season. My team/alma mater, Michigan, played Notre Dame and lost last year. Te’o had a nice game against Michigan, and his sob story was out there at the time. The story went something like his grandmother and girlfriend died on the same day. Te’o, as good a player as he is, largely rode the sob story to fame and very nearly to a Heisman Trophy (which goes to the best college football player each year…or that’s what they say; it’s not actually true…more like whichever player the media likes the best). Neither the fame level nor the Heisman campaign would have been what they were had that sob story not been out there.

Now it’s being reported that this girlfriend who allegedly died never actually existed. The question is whether or not Te’o made the chick up in order to get attention or if he was just tricked into believing she existed. Te’o had led everyone to believe that he had the kind of relationship everyone thinks of when they think of a girlfriend-boyfriend relationship, i.e. he’d spoken as if he’d actually met this girl before. He’d used the word “met” in interviews and made it seem as if they’d interacted heavily. He said he loved her. I read an article where his father said she could have been his daughter-in-law. Now that it’s out that she never existed, Te’o is trying to say it was an online/phone relationship and he never met her. In other words, he didn’t know she wasn’t real but believed she was. This went on for months. This is his story.

Now…sports media people, by and large, aren’t buying it. And if he didn’t know, then he’s “naive.” Translation: he’s stupid. So, to some, he’s either stupid or crazy for making up a story about a girlfriend dying of leukemia, but they don’t want to come out and say they think he’s lying. Then there are those sports guys who want to know how you can have a relationship with someone you can’t see, touch or be intimate with. That alone means he’s lying. There’s no such thing as having a boyfriend or girlfriend you met online and only know online, in their minds. Nobody does that.

That last paragraph is what my post tonight is about.

I want you to know this–all of these people talking about the Te’o story in the sports media are over the age of 40 and, I think, are all married. If you’re over the age of 40, you probably agree with these sports guys who think there’s no way someone has that kind of relationship. Perhaps some of you under the age of 40 agree, as well.

…there are those sports guys who want to know how you can have a relationship with someone you can’t see, touch or be intimate with. That alone means he’s lying. There’s no such thing as having a boyfriend or girlfriend you met online and only know online, in their minds. Nobody does that.

Except…there are people who do that.

Young people do that.

People who get cell phones as Christmas gifts at age 8, iPads as birthday gifts at age 10 and who have had a computer or a laptop for as long as they can remember do that.

People who work so much that they don’t have time to date the old-fashioned way or who have friends who met their boyfriend, girlfriend, fiance or spouse through match.com do that.

And I have done that.

I have “met” not only girlfriends and boyfriends online, but friends online. Some I met in person, but, honestly, most I haven’t. I’m in my early 30s, and I started making friends and girlfriends online back in my teens when technology still wasn’t what it is today. So imagine for a guy in his early 20s nowadays, when all young people do is stay glued to cell phones, tablets, laptops and social media. There is probably not a young person alive now who hasn’t spent quite a bit of time chatting with someone online he or she doesn’t know in person, and half have probably “dated” someone he/she doesn’t know in person. It doesn’t matter that he’s a football player and there are young ladies at Notre Dame–that’s not the point. This is a cultural issue. And today’s culture is that we interact with people in cyberspace in ways that some married 48-year with 5 kids probably can’t even begin to fathom, regardless of how hot or popular someone is.

My best friend right today is a female I met online in 2001. It’s 2013. We’ve been friends for over 10 years. We’ve never met. There’s no telling if we’re ever going to meet. We have discussed it, and there have been two or three times when it could have happened. It just hasn’t yet. There are things called life (especially when you’re older) and money (especially when you’re younger) that get in the way. Still, I trust her, she trusts me and I know she exists.

The last woman I had romantic feelings for was someone I met online. We never met in person, and not because I didn’t want to. I wanted to meet her, but we never got that far.

The funny thing is how people nowadays like to blame technology for everything. That’s why young people today are stupid. That’s why people today want everything now. That’s why people today are more violent and more sexual. You can’t trust people you meet online. You can’t have a real relationship with them unless you know them away from the computer.

In a way, yes–to all of it. That woman I met online romantically? I wrote to her once that I don’t particularly want to do a long-distance relationship. At some point, I need to be able to be with someone. At some point, we have to be in the same place. That’s true for every online/long-distance relationship. That was not initially why I wanted to meet her. Initially, it was because I believed pretty strongly that we’d get along great in person even as just friends and that it wouldn’t be awkward, which has been my worry before about meeting people from the internet–that it’d be too awkward.

Assume for a bit that Te’o really did believe there was this girlfriend who existed and he wasn’t just trying to get attention. Remember, he said he loved her. According to him, she said she loved him. But they hadn’t met. I went through the same thing. And then some months later, after a breakup of sorts, I was told by my romantic interest that she looks back and doesn’t think it was romantic love she felt. I thought it was painful and ridiculous at first. But now I’m to the point where it’s hard to blame her for thinking that. Why? Because…how do you know if you love someone romantically when you haven’t met her? You can feel one way online, and then when you meet in person it can feel different. Ultimately, that’s why we needed to meet each other, if either of us had been in the place to pursue a romantic relationship…which we weren’t.

That makes sense.

What doesn’t make sense is thinking that you have to know people in person to actually know them. When online relationships or friendships don’t work out, people make the internet out to be the bad guy. It’s not.

“I’m not going to talk to people online anymore. Only in person.”

You don’t necessarily know people around you are more real than people online are. I know people who have realized they don’t actually know their spouse the way they thought they did. The spouse broke a trust through lying or cheating. It’s not just people online who do these things.

So, assume Te’o was fooled. Like we don’t meet fake-ass people in person? Like the chick at the bar who smiled at you and gave you her phone number didn’t give you a fake number just to get you off her back? Like a guy you wasted three years with has never told you, “I’m just not ready to get married” for two of those years, only to turn up married to the next chick six months after your breakup? Or like he wasn’t actually already married the whole time you thought he was single?

The internet isn’t the bad guy. Indeed, you can meet wonderful people online. I have. I met one of my friends online, spent a year chatting and emailing with her before we actually enrolled at the same law school and met in person there. We’re still friends. There’s nothing wrong with her. Have “known” her since about 2004, met in 2005.

I’ve had people lie to me online, but I’ve probably had way more lie to me in person. My romantic interest wasn’t always forthcoming with me, but I think I understand at least some of it. She didn’t tell me her real name. But she knew mine, so I dug around and found out. The first thing she did was beg me not to tell her parents. What??? Ohhhh….yeah, the lesbian thing. Never crossed my mind, since I’m not that kind of an ass. But yeah…now it makes more sense why she was secretive about some things. Still,  having met me online doesn’t automatically make me less trustworthy than the kid in the next cubicle at work. After all, she knows my full name and orientation; the kid in the next cubicle at work doesn’t. I have more faith in her not to blab it around than I do in him not to.

As always, it’s about judgment and alertness. Not seeing only what you want to see. People now question Te’o’s judgment, among other things. Assuming he’s telling the truth, meeting someone he liked online and sustaining a relationship with her for months shouldn’t be the reason why, though–at least not in and of itself. That happens. It’s a part of life today. If you’re 50 and don’t get it, then you’re 50 and don’t get it. But I’m 31 and I do. I’ve been there.

Oh, yeah…and I don’t believe Te’o. I think he was trying to see how much he could get out of the sob story. But that’s because, one way or another, he has lied to everyone. He definitely lied about how he and the chick met. When I realized he lied about certain aspects of his relationship with this mystery girl, I was done. Still, I thought the online dating spin on the story makes for a good discussion.

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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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