Tag Archives: ohio state

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…

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Saying Good Morning Pt. 2

Hehe. So, something interesting happened at work after I posted a couple of days ago about saying “Good Morning” and how not everyone is receptive to it along with my six reasons for why I don’t like saying it. I don’t know if my co-worker found my blog or what, but here is the story:

The very next day, he came in and said “Good Morning” to me like usual and I responded to him. He comes in an hour after I do. But an hour after he came in, he walked by me and said “Good Morning” again. Now, one of the reasons why people saying “Good Morning” annoys me where I work now is because sometimes it does feel as if people forget that they say “Good Morning,” which just shows how disingenuous they’re being in the first place when they say it (still, they get angry if you don’t respond–makes no sense)…or they’re saying it to way too many people and can’t keep up (you don’t have to say it to every gotdamn person you see, particularly if you work around a whole bunch of people like we do). They say it just to say it and then say it again, but it makes extra “Good Mornings” to respond to on top of the 600 million other ones.

So, when he said it again, I didn’t say anything–just kind of looked at him because I was thinking to myself something like, “Okay…didn’t this dude already say this to me? Does he not remember?” Now, note that, as usual, I’ve got my earphones in…I’m listening to my favorite sports talk show, “The Herd” with Colin Cowherd. Colin Time is pretty sacred whenever I get it, unless it’s just boring at the moment–which it was not at this moment, because he had one of my favorite college football analysts Kirk Herbstreit on (yes, even though he’s an Ohio State Buckeye and I’m a Michigan Wolverine). As a matter of fact, I get crazy when it comes to sports, period.

Plus, as I’ve written before, to me, when people have earphones in or headphones on, that is a clear “don’t talk to me” sign–I still don’t know why other people haven’t realized this one yet, but it seems that if I want people to start talking to me the surest way is to put earphones in and turn on something I want to hear. I just think it’s rude to start trying to talk to people when they’re listening to something, unless it’s important. It’s barely different from interrupting a conversation, the way I see it.

Anyway, then my co-worker walked by some of my work friends and said “Good Morning”. Because I had my earphones in, I could only hear a bit…but I remember him saying “Good Morning” a whole bunch of times, just almost forcefully. I believe they responded, since they are the kind of people who would. Then my co-worker turned back to me and said “Good Morning” with emphasis and stared at me, waiting. This reminded me of that loathsome discussion thread to which I linked in my previous post, because some of those people seem to think that if someone doesn’t respond to them that means they should keep harping on it and try to force a response.

I just kind of looked at him again, because I was thinking, “Dude, what the hell…?” Then I pointed out this was the third time he has said that to me. And he was like, “But you didn’t respond.” And I was like, “Um, hello? You said it to me when you first came in and I said it back.” At this point, I’m missing half of what my man Kirk is saying on Colin’s show. And he says, “Does it matter how many times I say it?” And I’m like, “Um, yeah. You don’t see me listening with these earphones?” He was like, “Is that more important?” Well, you know what they say–“Well, you asked.” I don’t bullschitt people who aren’t close to me when they ask a question and I know they’re not going to like the answer, so I honestly said “yes.”

Given that I’d already actually said “Good Morning” to this co-worker, despite everything I wrote in my last post about hating the “Good Morning” thing, sorry–it might seem harsh, but yeah, on the 2nd and 3rd time, my sports show was more important. And yeah, given that I hate the “Good Morning” thing, on the 2nd and 3rd time–and with the “do not disturb” sign that is the iPhone earphones (earpods), too–I was going to lose my schitt. And frankly, the first time he said it I was listening to a sports show, and I responded. So, that’s not even why I looked at him like he was nuts without responding the last two times he said it. It was just weird to me.

My good work friend Clara mentioned it to me later on, and she thought he was acting weird, too. Now, Clara is not like me–she loves to socialize, she initiates “Good Morning”s with people and she knows everyone at this warehouse. And still, she basically said it was too early in the morning to be walking around yelling about “Good Morning” multiple times–which is what he did when he said “Good Morning” to her and my other work friends–and that people are barely awake as early as we get to work. She pointed out that he never does that, that usually he says it once in a normal voice and moves along, which is true and acceptable.

And then today, I noticed he never said “Good Morning” to me, which is cool–one less to deal with. Clara told me he said it to her and that it was normal like he usually does it, not all loud and repeated. She said she told him he was acting loud and weird with that stuff, which is “why life.overrated was mad at you” and I laughed. I wasn’t mad at him, but he was annoying the hell out of me and I still don’t know what all my man Kirk said on Colin’s show.

Now, even though we thought this co-worker was acting weird that one day, there are people who run around all loud first thing in the morning with this “Good Morning” business…like, almost literally, run. It’s 7am, and they’re power walking, wide awake, “Good Morning”-ing everyone to death. Even Clara, as sociable and, for lack of a better word, friendly as she is (and I put it like that because she’s like a very sociable version of me as far as saying whatever the hell she wants, even if it’s not nice or PC), needs time in the mornings. Half the time she looks like a b!tch for a good hour in her facial expressions and barely says anything, let alone “Good Morning.” She is not miserable, grumpy or unhappy as a person, but she is, quite understandably, that way for a while in the morning sometimes. We have fun the rest of the day, just not in the mornings.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Three Years That Changed My Life

I talk a lot of schitt about college. It is a bitter topic for me, and I try pretty hard to convince young people not to go because no one grabbed me and told me I shouldn’t go. It sounds odd because, for decades, adults have been grabbing young people and telling them why they should go to college. It’s just that I found first hand with both college and then graduate school that the things adults tell young people when they grab them aren’t quite true anymore. College dropouts become rich CEOs (or rich rappers with aptly-titled CDs, not to mention slut-wives) while people who see college through end up in debt for at least 10 years while getting a starting salary of maybe $25,000/yr or $30,000/yr…whenever they’re lucky enough to even find a job.

At the same time…I have a hard time reconciling this knowledge/experience with the other experiences I gained from attending college and grad school, not to mention how to reconcile it with the respect I have for education and academic institutions in general. In fact, I can honestly say that grad school had a profound effect on my life. It changed my life, for better and for worse.

I skipped out on work Monday, and my mother and I went several places. One of them was a store that sells all college gear, particularly for sports fans. I’m always up for buying schitt that reps the University of Michigan (I damn-near have Michigan everything), which was my grad school–the school that changed my life. After we returned home, my mother and I were talking about how she, my father and my oldest sister lived in the San Francisco area before I was born. It was interesting that this came up, because I had been thinking a lot about something recently. This led me to tell my mother something no one knows about me.

Everyone who has known me for long enough knows I love Michigan. Love Michigan.

But Stanford is my dream school. It was my dream school when I headed to Michigan. If I could think of a reason to go to Stanford and afford it right now, I would. And as much as I liked Michigan, had I gotten accepted to Stanford for law school as well, that’s where I would have gone. Of course, the three best law schools in the nation rejected me (Harvard, Yale, Stanford); I very nearly had my choice of top law schools aside from those. The only other school that felt “right” aside from Stanford was Michigan. So, despite the better scholarship offers from other schools and the questioning from fellow Southerners, I went to Michigan.

My mother’s response–to my mentioning that I didn’t get into Stanford and that was the only reason my parents didn’t end up taking trips back to the SF area for [at least] three years instead of to Ann Arbor for three years–was something along the lines, of course, of “everything happens for a reason.”

Oh, of course. I know Michigan happened for a reason. I wouldn’t trade my time at Michigan for Stanford. Would I trade it for less debt, to get back the debt it put me in? That’s a tougher question, it really is.

See, among many things, Michigan is, for me:

-Where I realized I could actually be friends with other women

-Where I fell in love with sports

-Where I truly accepted that I am, and started identifying as, a lesbian

-Where I learned that college towns–not suburbs, not the country and definitely not cities–are right for me

-Where I found the only “community” to which I 100% love belonging (um, sorry, blacks and LGBTs and women)

-Where I really began to recognize, love and appreciate the black or African-descent woman, as well as her beauty

And it’s not all positive experiences.

I suffered from depression for at least a semester while I was at Michigan, which led to my seeing a psychotherapist. The psychotherapist was one of my friends, but we still had real sessions. It’s interesting–for much of my life growing up, I wanted to be a psychologist…got my psych degree. Never once did I think that people could walk out of counseling sessions feeling worse than when they entered them, but that’s how I felt after every session with my friend/psychotherapist–every…single…one. Needless to say, that’s not how I recovered from depression…but that’s a story for another time. 😉

I also had a racial experience at Michigan that is the base reason for why I just don’t view white women in a romantic light/as a romantic option anymore and probably never will again. Obviously, you can’t make an entire race/sex carry the burden for something that happened with one person of that background, and that’s not really the case here…but it got the ball rolling, I learned a lot about the deep lack of understanding between black people and white people (of each other, not just white people not understanding blacks), and now I’m where I am. I must say that, although I wouldn’t quite say I’m glad the experience happened, it was good for me in some ways. Out of it grew the way I now see black women, which is a way in which I didn’t quite view them before. And I think it’s important for black women to completely see other black women’s worth, beauty, intelligence, attractiveness, etc. If we can’t see it, who can/will?

And obviously, it goes without saying that being in debt for the rest of my life is not anything positive that Michigan gave me.

But even out of these three negative experiences came a lot of learning, very important learning and experiences. I went through everything and then some at Michigan–really could have a TV series based off it…we’ll call it “Ann Arbor 48109” or “Michigan Law”–whereas my college experience was relatively uneventful.

I mentioned one of the things I gained from Michigan was a love of sports. I even did some sports writing on the side. Well…people who don’t understand sports or diehard fans or why fans and experts get so emotional…they often ask about it. One of the things I try to articulate, perhaps unsuccessfully most of the time, is my belief that love for a particular sport or team usually doesn’t develop from the sport/team. To me, there is usually something else–being from a particular city or state, the people around you, the school you attend. First and foremost, I love my school because of everything I went through there, everything it made me, everything it taught me. And that led me to support my school in whatever, be it sports or anything else. It’s the reason why I will watch garbage like baseball from time to time or softball (which…softball, for some reason, I actually like now)–if it’s Michigan playing, I will watch.

My favorite sports are football and basketball. I grew up playing basketball, and my family is a basketball family. My father has basketball championships. But I hated football growing up. After attending Michigan, a huge football school, football is my favorite sport. I didn’t suddenly become interested in guys running for three yards and passing for 15 yards just because it was interesting. It never was, originally. Truthfully, if it’s the NFL, it’s still not interesting greater than 50% of the time. I just don’t have that NFL equivalent to Michigan, no emotional connection. I hate where I’m from, so why would I root for my state’s NFL team?

Michigan is why I like college football and why that’s my favorite sport. And the love I have for my school is why losses are so painful–particularly certain ones. Any loss to Ohio State or Michigan State (rivals). The loss to Indiana in basketball earlier this year that cost Michigan a conference championship…that still brings tears to my eyes because of the way it happened. Even my father cursed and was angry after Michigan lost that game, and he, being an SEC guy, likes to pretend he is not a Michigan fan (he is). There are other Michigan losses I could reference using just two words, and [college] sports fans would know what I’m talking about–Appalachian State and Time Out. Horrific and horrific. We (Michigan) have the most legendary fails in college sports, for real, so you can’t blame me for feeling pain. But we are also among the most successful programs in college sports, so you can’t blame me for feeling pride, either.

So, would I want to give all of this back for, oh, $100,000? I don’t know who I’d be without all of this.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Survived Hell Week At Work

I’ve been putting it off all week, but here’s how hell week turned out (i.e. working without the male tech geek by my side to help me out):

Monday

Today and Monday were probably the worst days.

It didn’t take long on Monday for chaos to ensue. A lot of our clients had problems early on, and, of course, the female tech geek hardly communicates with me about our tech issues. One of our clients actually came to our suite–some of our clients are in our building and, unfortunately, know that they are. I was on the phone with a client, FTG was on the phone with a client and then there was this guy. I made the mistake of putting my client on hold, making it look as if I was free to help the client who walked into our suite. So, one of the non-tech ladies where I worked asked me to help him.

FTG already had a ticket open on the business from which this guy came. So basically, I’m like, “He needs to speak with FTG because she opened a ticket already and has the details.” I thought FTG might be on the phone about their issue, so I told them that, as well. I didn’t really know anything about the issue, and her ticket had very little info. FTG would not come speak to this dude. He was out there waiting for a long time, and the non-tech lady was trying to talk to him as he waited rather than ignore him and leave him out in the waiting area by himself. FTG got off the phone at one point and told me her phone call was not related to this ticket involving this guy, but she did not come speak to him. Eventually, she got on the phone again. And the phone was ringing quite a bit, so I had issues to take care of, as well. I didn’t ask FTG what was going on, and I didn’t try to–partially because I was busy, but also because I have experienced that trying to ask her work-related questions is like pulling teeth, which absolutely should not be the case and is unacceptable. I’m simply done with it.

Eventually, I got up and told this guy and the non-tech lady, basically, that I didn’t know what was going on since it wasn’t my ticket–surely, FTG heard that and, knowing her, got pissed–but that I would call one of our field techs to let him know people in our building were having issues. I called the field tech and he told me he actually had FTG on the other line. I really couldn’t hear who she was speaking to, so I didn’t know that. And really, since she knew the guy was out in the waiting area, she should have either said to me or to him that she was calling someone. Or she might have just started calling him because I mentioned to the client in the waiting area that I was going to do it.

So, shit was busy up to and through lunch time. We are, essentially, supposed to go to lunch at a certain time. I didn’t really know this, but I try to not shake up the lunch schedule too much because usually there is someone waiting for me to get back so he can go to lunch (we all have to go at different times from each other so that there will always be a certain number of people available to take calls and emails). FTG is supposed to go to lunch first. This chick likes to take liberties with when she heads to lunch. I go after her, so I have to put up with this crap. At one point on Monday, it was, like, an hour and a half beyond when she was supposed to go, which meant I was supposed to be at lunch.

One of the field techs was sitting in our area, talking on the phone. I didn’t feel like trying to talk over him, plus it irritates me when I’m on the phone at work and people are speaking loudly to other people in the room. Trying to have more courtesy for this dude than he usually shows me, I sent FTG an IM asking if she was going to go to lunch because it sounded earlier as if she told someone on the phone that she probably wasn’t going to go. Since people have to wait for her to go and get back, these are the kind of decisions or the kind of information she needs to share with other people at work.

Do you know that this chick did not respond to me? I was just sitting there like, “Okay, I’m going to get up and go when I’m finished with what I’m working on.”

She took another 15-20 minutes before she finally decided to go to lunch, and she never responded to me in any form.

I ended up handling several of her tickets on Monday, which…when other people open tickets, I don’t just take over them three minutes later. That’s FTG’s style. But on Monday, she was just opening tickets and not resolving them. Those clients were calling back, and they weren’t going to be happy if I kept sitting there like, “Well, it’s her ticket” and no one resolving their issue.

Tuesday

I didn’t have to go to work, which turned out to be a good thing. I originally was supposed to work Tuesday, but one of the other tech geeks fucked up the schedule. So, I was “asked” to work 4th of July in exchange for getting Tuesday off. Truth be told, I was pissed initially. But the more I thought about it, the happier I was with this. This meant that I wouldn’t have to work with FTG at all for the rest of the week, and I’d escape a day that was probably going to be pretty shitty since Tuesdays have become horrible days at work.

Wednesday

I got a few dumb phone calls, but I mainly sat and watched my home TV through my laptop.

Thursday

Nothing really went down, and I thought how nice it was several times that FTG wasn’t there. If every day could be like Thursday was, I’d be a lot happier at my job.

I was told, though, by the afternoon tech geek (ATG) that our supervisor had to make FTG go to lunch on Tuesday because she was bullshitting again about it. That’s when I found out that they really do expect us to go to lunch around certain times, and FTG has been reprimanded about this before I was hired.

Friday

I kind of figured hell would break loose today, because I knew more people would be returning to their jobs than returned on Thursday after the holiday, and it did. Bullshit started early in the morning with clients, and I just wondered why there were even people at work so damn early. As I’ve written here before, no tech business can really get much done for you at 6 or 7am because the more important people are still at home, so don’t even bother calling that early.

My main issue with today…

FTG is almost the exact opposite of ATG, and ATG is who I worked with yesterday and today during the day. ATG had to come in to cover for the idiots who think they’re entitled to take all these days off just because there’s a holiday somewhere in there. I almost never take off on holidays–and every full-time job I’ve had has required working holidays–so I guess I just don’t get it. The only time I ever skipped out on work during a holiday was last Thanksgiving when I went to Michigan. And even that wasn’t about the holiday–I had expensive [airplane and game] tickets to see Michigan play Ohio State. And I assumed we’d be off work Thursday and Friday, but I assumed wrong–we weren’t off on Friday. So, I called in and flew to Michigan. Otherwise, I would have been at work.

Anyways, at my job FTG will do, like, 70% of the work if you let her. Maybe even more. But she will not help me when I need help doing my work. But ATG will do maybe 20-30% of the work–less if you let him–but is right there for me when I need help. With today being as busy as it was, it pissed me off that he would hardly do anything. I would ask him if he saw an email that came in, and he would only look at the email if I mentioned it to him–otherwise, he’d have no idea what emails we were receiving because he wasn’t checking or trying to do any work. And then he’d tell me, “Go ahead and…” then tell me what to do instead of taking on some of the work himself.

I’m not like FTG in that I will just start “telling” on co-workers. But I know that if it ever comes up in the natural course of conversation or if I’m asked, my supervisor is going to hear about exactly how things work when I’m with FTG and when I’m with ATG. I can’t let her think anything that ends up fucked up on my watch is totally my fault. With FTG, I don’t get any help or communication, which our job depends on (which I hate). And with ATG, I get help when I need it but he won’t do his fair share of the work. And I am pretty sure this won’t totally be news to my supervisor, nor hard to believe.

I understand ATG’s “don’t give a fuck” attitude. We talk about it, and I basically agree with him as far as being tired of dealing with people and their bullshit. I don’t ever want another job where I have to deal with people most of the time, although it’s hard to find jobs where you hardly deal with people. But when it comes to doing a good job, I can’t just ignore work and not try to help clients. This dude acts as if he doesn’t care whether he loses the job or not. And I have heard people talking, and he’s getting closer and closer to losing that job because too many people–both at work and among our clients–are complaining about him. For me, if I lose the job I will probably feel relieved, somewhat happy…but I also will feel somewhat like a failure and will feel some pressure to find another job. So, I do and don’t care, which was how I was at my last job.

But that was hell week. Wasn’t as bad as it could have been, but I’m glad it’s over. I leaned on one of the guys who works in the server area a lot. Between him and ATG, I was able to handle a lot of issues.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,