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Polarized Opinions & Intent To Blow



It’s too bad that talk radio/talk TV/talking-about-sports-in-general makes the person speaking take such a polarized stance.  Is there anyone who’s extremely famous on the air who’s reasonable?  Okay, Jon Stewart, sure.  But think of a sports guy….

Thats your boy Tony, and your boy Wilbon.

Everyone I could think of were columnists – guys like Bruce Arthur and Joe Posnanski, but it seems like the second guys get on TV they have to be polar enough to make the conversation interesting (thinking of Dan Lebatard, who I like all around, but a lot more in print).  Mike Milbury, Don Cherry, Pierre McGuire and so on (ooo, and recently Jeremy Roenick) - these guys make a living by hating or loving every single shift. 

I’d like to be on TV someday, because – as I think Lebatard put it, and Bill Simmons wrote it - TV is fundamentally social, while writing is fundamentally me and my cat who sleeps all day.  And I’m a social cat.  But still….

I never want to have to hate or love everything, because I don’t.  In fact, if I didn’t take up writing, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t even know my own opinion on hundreds of subjects (which is a fun self-discovery by-product of writing, I’ve learned).

"Lebatard" sounds like a derogatory French word.

My favourite sports program is Pardon The Interruption, but I can’t imagine I’d be a very valuable host with my plethora of center-heavy opinions.  “I guess I’m not really sure, Tony, it is what it is.” #hockeybackground

I know I take some hard stances here on this blog, but I usually only write about the stuff I have a stance on (Matt Cooke is a donkey, kittehs are cute).  But, whatever, I’ll perfect the art of fake-caring about things long enough to yell about them and move the show along if that’s what I have to do.  JOE TORRE SHOULD HAVE NEVER IMPLIED HE WAS CURIOUS ABOUT THAT METS JOB.

See?  I’ll get the hang of it.


Have you checked out the website “Intent to Blow?”  It would EASILY be the web’s best-named sports blog if it wasn’t for the great challenge from “Sportress of Blogitude.”  (For the unenlightened, there’s a rule in the NHL that if a guy scores before the ref blows his whistle, but the ref had “intent to blow” said whistle before the goal, it doesn’t count.  NOW how great is that blog name?)

Check it out.

Anyway, it’s basically Sports Pickle (*note on that site at the bottom of this section) for hockey, and I enjoy it regularly.  Today they ran an absolute gem: Canadians contact Blues, swear they meant to trade Price not Halak

Check it out if for no other reason that a wonderfully placed LOLcat reference, and a killer closing line.

{*Okay, Sports Pickle – I check that site daily for a laugh or two.  People who put time and money into their site as DJ Gallo does his and I do mine deserve to make a couple bucks (him WAY more than me), but that site has become an annoying ad-heavy money grab.  Video ads run when it opens, anywhere you click takes you to an ad…. it’s an awesome site, but man.  I’m adding ads to mine soon to make a few bucks, but please, let me know if it becomes a raging turnoff.  There has to be a happy medium.}


My To-Blog-About File is getting a little too long to keep up with, so you know what that means: mind-dump, probably tomorrow. 

Today’s column can be found at The Hockey News (up by 3:00ish PST), and is on why the Islanders need to get John Tavares some offensive help soon, or risk wasting him.  Basically “soon” means in the next year or so, and “wasting him” means not maximizing his potential.


13 Responses to “Polarized Opinions & Intent To Blow”
  1. Kennedy says:

    This is not just true in sports. There is no longer time for nuance. You have 30 seconds to talk about something or get a point across before “the jump.” There is also very little accountability. So the sky is falling guy can become the everything is roses guy on a weekly basis.

    One of the rarer beasts in todays media market is something like MMQB by Peter King where he has as much space as he wants to talk about things.

  2. jtbourne says:

    I love Elliotte Friedman’s 30 Thoughts, too. More than anything, I love Drew Magary going all FJM on every Peter King Monday Morning Quarterback.

  3. Nathan says:

    Ray Ferraro co-hosts the morning show on Vancouver’s sports radio and he is great. He has strong opinions and when he doesn’t know something, he says so and he asks a question pertaining to what he doesn’t know in order to get a better understanding (?!?!).

    I’ve always liked his analysis, but his style overall threw me off as I’ve never heard a radio or TV “expert” (quadruple the size of those quotation marks and adopt Sutton’s voice while tripling the sarcasm), ‘admit’ they didn’t know something, or fake an opinion on it.

  4. Nathan says:

    …or NOT fake an opinion…

  5. Nathan says:

    Oh hey, and, where did Crosby get the -1 for a PNC interview in your list of shame? I missed it.

  6. Neil says:

    I’ll try to spare you a rant, but I think your comments about polarized media actually touch on a really destructive element of human nature, namely that it is easy and satisfying to think that things are terribly simple and those who oppose you must be morons. Grey areas make people uncomfortable, their anxiety about not knowing something doesn’t go away and figuring out a course of action is harder and riskier. Having two people debate an issue when they are both completely convinced the other is being frustratingly stupid is a great way to make sure there is next to zero progress in actually figuring things out. It’s annoying in sports, but I think it’s socially destructive in political settings. It’s really bad in the US right now but we’re getting it in Canada as well. People are so interested in proving that left-wing or right-wing ideology is hopelessly stupid that everyone fails to notice they’re getting fleeced by guys in suits who don’t give a shit what wing anybody is as long as the money keeps coming in and the people getting elected dance to the right tune. Obviously this isn’t news to most people, I think they actually made a Simpsons episode about it. “Don’t blame me, I voted for Kodos!” That’s just where my mind went when you mentioned the super polarized style of sports reporting because it’s a small example of the same thing, imo.

  7. jtbourne says:

    +1 for that, Neil. Fully agree. As I believe you and I have discussed before, the Democratic and Republican parties really aren’t that different anyway, even though they pretend to be.

  8. Neil says:

    The weird thing is, re: Nathan’s comments, I find that one of the most effective ways of getting people to listen to you is being willing to admit occasionally that you don’t know, or that something is too complicated to be sure about, so I’m sure plenty of people out there prefer a more thoughtful style of debate. Though I have to admit, I have a soft spot for a guy like Don Cherry (or even Jon Stewart) who says what you’re thinking and adds a bit of “these people who don’t understand this are shameful idiots”. My heart wants Don Cherry but my brain wants Noam Chomsky.

  9. Deirdre says:

    I love Intent To Blow. I don’t go everyday, which I probably should, because when I do go I lose HOURS!

    As for the Yell-fest that TV commentary has become…it’s sad, but yeah. When you get a few hours of commentary going during a game you get some honest to goodness conversation. When you get 30 seconds and the hope to be retweeted as frequently as possible…you get yelling. C’est la TV I guess.

  10. minnesotagirl71 says:

    I vote for Neil starting his own blog! You’ve got some interesting thoughts on issues and could extrapolate on the grey area to your hearts content. I’d read you.

    So many issues are so much more complex than the I-need-my-news-in-140-characters-or-less crowd can handle. I really like to explore the grey area and I appreciate that commenters here are allowed to share differing opinions without hostility.

  11. crushasaurus says:

    A lot of talented, intelligent writers are forced to dumb down when they step in front of a camera. There isn’t time to lay out several points and construct a balanced argument, and quite often the complexity of a subject cannot be explored without losing those viewers with short attention spans (probably more than half of the viewing public).

    A columnist’s job is structure an argument, but also to spark or add to a discussion. A columnist on TV’s job is to provide a definitive opinion or an answer to a question, and this merely reflects the people who are paying attention to each medium.

    A sports fan that will actively seek out columns and written pieces on a subject is looking to form his or her own opinion on the subject. I’d pitch that someone who relies solely on TV coverage and pundits for their sports fix are looking for an opinion to adopt as their own, as opposed to taking in information and making their own mind up.

  12. Andrew says:

    I agree, that most TV guys are polarizing, but they have to be. PTI would be boring if they talked about SuperBowl contenders and then listed off 12 different teams.

    Some hockey guys aren’t as bad for being polarizing, but they are generally the voice of reason to their polarizing counter-part (see Ron and Don).

    Commentators in non-team sports (golf) tend to be less polarizing, except for the few that are USA ALL THE WAY (Johnny Miller).

    Good article, Justin.

  13. nightfly says:

    Often, the sport-yakkers aren’t really around to have a reasoned point, they’re around to spark controversies and thus ratings. As a result, ESPN or WFAN-NY or any of them have a stable of people who are merely loud. Hearing a reasoned argument about steroids in baseball? Sure, we appreciate that… and then we move on to the next thing. It’s impossible to really build up a lot of froth about someone who’s reasonable, even if your opinion is different.

    But if you hear “ban everyone who even used the word ‘syringe’ in a sentence” or “make roids mandatory in high school” and it invests the listener, for good or ill, in either proving the point wrong, or in defending it. The risk then becomes not alienating too much of the audience with outlandish positions. (Skip Bayless and Jay Mariotti read that and immediately wrote columns in praise of alienating their audiences.)

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