INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 05: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots speaks to the media after losing to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. The New York Giants defeated the New England Patriots 21-17. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Sports are supposed to be fun, right? Well, it doesn't always come across that way in the Boston sports media world, and that has become increasingly evident during the fallout from the Patriots' loss to the Giants in Super Bowl XLVI.
Sports are supposed to be fun, right?
Sure, when your team loses the championship game in gut-wrenching fashion it doesn't seem so fun, but in general we watch and follow sports because it is enjoyable, and addicting.
So why, for so many, does it seem that even unparalleled success brings out the absolute worst in people?
This applies to both media and fans. Boston's 10 year run of championships and near-championships seems to have spawned a whole new collection of "fans." Boston used to be known for dedicated, blue-collar fans, who were loyal to "the cause" and who, while expecting to have their hearts broken, still hoped for the best.
These have been replaced with spoiled, entitled fans, who leap on and off bandwagons, and voice their anger at anything less than a perfect season vociferously through website comments and twitter.
Hardworking reporters who strove to bring us the latest news and report on what was happening around the teams have been replaced with speculation machines that do nothing but create fake "controversies" the small incidents, and then beat those topics into the ground for hours and days at a time.
I'm not alone in thinking this way. At least two media members, one national, one local, have noticed the same thing, and commented on it this week.
Rick Reilly on ESPN.com had a column this week entitled It's only a game. In it, Reilly notes:
To too many of us -- sports writers, analysts or supposed Patriots fans -- the Super Bowl is a zero-sum game. Win and we would step in front of arrows for you. Lose and you're the biggest choker since the Hillside Strangler.
He then cites numerous examples, from both "fans" and media of exactly this. He then says:
A little decaf, folks: The Patriots lost the Super Bowl on the last play of the game when a tipped ball failed to stay in the air another quarter second longer so a one-legged Rob Gronkowski could possibly catch it. If it had, all three of these writers would be hailing Brady, Belichick and Welker as just slightly greater than Lincoln.
How fickle are you people?
"Fickle" is one way to put it, I guess. Locally, Mike Reiss had his regular weekly chat on the Patriots, and in the middle of it, paused things to go on a rant about the negativity and the controversies that seem to be generated every week. Reiss said:
I have been having some internal philosophical debates in my head about what media is these days. What are we trying to accomplish? When I got into this business, I thought we were supposed to tell people what they needed to know. Now I think we’re trending in a dangerous area where we report based on what will get clicks. It bothers me…
He was later asked about Gisele Bundchen's comments following the game, and he turned things around a little bit:
I think she has to know better than to say that. She was wrong. At the same time, I was more angered that someone would incite her in that manner, but I guess I have to accept that’s where we are in society today. I just want to know what is in that person’s heart. What would possess them to taunt her? Who does these things? Maybe I’ve been living under a rock over the last 10 years, but when did everyone seem to get so angry?
The last part is where things really stand out to me. If you watch sports TV or listen to sports radio, you've become accustomed to being yelled at most of the time, by both the hosts and the callers/guest. Most seem to be very angry about something or another, even when things are going well.
In the midst of the Patriots Super Bowl run, it amused me that 98.5 ran promos of their "edgy" show which featured a very angry Tony Massarotti shouting "HOW ABOUT BRINGING IN SOME PLAYERS AND WINNING SOME FOOTBALL GAMES!!!!" That was from this season, and is typical of the sports radio mindset.
It would be nice if we could just pause and enjoy the moment, enjoy the journey once in a while without getting all worked up about all the possible things that could go wrong. It'd be nice, but I don't see it happening. This is how things are.