I have a love/hate relationship. No I am not referring to the love/hate relationship between my wife and I where I love her and she hates me. THAT IS JUST A JOKE, DO NOT READ ANYTHING MORE INTO IT!!!!!
I have a love/hate relationship with cable and the internet and its impact on the media.
From a love point of view, I love the 24 hour access to information. I can be anywhere in the world and get any information I need. I was in Europe last summer and never felt out of touch with the North American sports world. When at home, I can watch live sports for about 16 hours a day. I can catch up on the news through cable or the internet. Google is not only the name of a company, it has become a verb in the English language. As an aside, a guy in our office came in one day with a T-shirt that said “I don’t need Google, my wife knows everything!” Anyway……
What is not to love right?
Here is the problem as I see it. I think the time has come where information can be accessed too readily. I suspect that some people would think that impossible but think of this…..how many ways can you portray the facts….really? In the old days of just newspaper and the 6 o’clock local news, you got the facts and nothing but the facts. On occasion you might get some stinging editorial but primarily, the news was about news and sports was about sports.
Things are so different today. With 24 hour access to the facts, journalists (whether they are print or electronic, news or sports) must find a way to interest the public to remain employed. Journalism has become all about hits instead of fact. Writers now feel they need to provide us their opinion and they need to speculate regardless of the potential impact their speculation or opinion may have on innocent people.
To bring this back to my title, the biggest impact that all of this has on me? We don’t have any heroes any more. In fact, it seems that we don’t want any. Due to the new style of journalism, we have become a society that seems to relish in tearing down our heroes. The examples are many and I am not suggesting for a second that all of these people are perfect. All I am suggesting is that prior to cable and the internet, much of this would never have happened.
Just a few examples:
I will start with John Furlong. This guy is just getting battered in the press led by Georgia Strait freelance Laura Robinson. I have no idea if there is any truth to the allegations but I know this. John Furlong of 2007 – 2010 was a hero to many of us, especially those that supported the Vancouver Olympic bid. The games were an incredible success and have left a lasting legacy in the city and in some suburbs. IF the allegations are true, is it terribly important that we understand what the John Furlong of over 30 years ago was like? Have you changed in the last 30 years? I know I have.
I will combine Lance Armstrong and Tiger Woods, both “past” heroes to many sports fans but even more to people they have helped through their foundations. The press has taken great pains to expose the warts for both of these guys, not only the actions. Their improper actions seem to give the press the freedom to rip apart their personal lives, the lives of those around them and to challenge the sincerity of even the good things that they have done. Do you wonder why there are not many golfers publicly saying negative things about Tiger? They are all so much richer because of the attention he has brought the sport and continues to do so. Why did it take so long for Lance’s teammates and competitors to come clean? They all benefited from the doping and only confessed due to the threats from the US Anti-doping agency. Why not focus on the hundreds of millions these two guys have raised for cancer research and youth learning. To say they were only able to raise it because of false celebrity is bullshit. Ask those with cancer or the kids who benefited from the Tiger Woods Foundation if they care about the mistakes that these two have made.
Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGuire. Whether MLB and the Baseball Writers of America want to hear it or not, these three guys were the primary reasons baseball was able to recover from the strike of 1994. Yes, I am saying they saved baseball. There was an old commercial with Tom Glavine and John Smoltz where they said that home run hitters get all the chicks and they were right. Not necessarily about the chicks but that is where the public interest lies. They don’t have a pitcher’s accuracy contest at the All Star game. They don’t have a slick fielding contest at the All Star game. THEY HAVE A HOME RUN CONTEST. These three guys brought baseball back to prominence in the American culture in late 1990′s and the 2000′s. Yet the very people who have benefited from the resurgence they have brought about are now the people who choose to vilify.
I won’t name politicians specifically because I probably said enough about them yesterday but who in their right mind would ever want to be a politician today with all the scrutiny? And people wonder why just the weirdos and the power-hungry run for office…..nobody with any smarts and self-respect would ever do it.
And Charlie Sheen…..no, never mind.
To contrast the past, JFK was a pig….no nothing to do with the Bay of Pigs, he was a pig but the media was too busy reporting the news that the fact that he was a slut really wasn’t important. Hell it was only near the end of his term that the American public even found out that FDR was in a freaking wheelchair! Even Bill Clinton did not get the scrutiny as a result of his mis-deeds that he would have gotten today.
Micky Mantle was a drunk. Lou Gehrig was an asshole and Willie Mays had some very shady dealings with gamblers. I wonder how many of these guys would be in the hall of fame today if exposed to the need of the media for new stories.
Paul Hornung of the Green Bay Packers was suspended for the 1963 season for dealing with gambling and organized crime. Joe Namath had the same issues but managed to avoid suspension in a deal with the Commissioner. Both are in the Hall of Fame.
I am not saying the journalists of today should not be doing what they are doing. People seem to love it and the writers need to put food on the table as much as I do. I am saying however it is kind of sad that as a society, we seem to enjoy seeing public figures being brought down to earth. It is as if we think because they are famous that takes all the human out of them. They are not robots and they should never be role models….they are just humans with a talent. They have the capacity to make mistakes and do bad things to further their career just like many in business.
Ultimately though, I am saying that I really miss the opportunity to have heroes! Will I ever be allowed to have one again?