Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Probably a Moot Point, but ...

... it's interesting to consider what role the media (and the fans) played in the sacking of America's Coach, Wade Phillips.

Yes, Phillips was a dead man walking after the Cowboys' 1-7 start, and almost certainly would have lost his job at the end of the season. But the media and the fans certainly had fingerprints on the gun that ended his coaching career in Dallas.

Jerry Jones had never fired a head coach in midseason before, and the Cowboys had never, ever fired one midseason in their 50-year history. But the clamor for Phillips' job got so loud from the Dallas media and from disgruntled Cowboys' fans, that Jones decided he had to act.

If not for the 24/7 harping, Jones probably would have waited until the end of the season. But the realities of today's sports media landscape are impossible even for Jerry to ignore. Every owner can read the blog and Internet comments, and the homemade "fire_________.com" websites, and that gives today's coaches a very short shelf life. It was almost unheard of to fire an NFL or college coach midseason, but now it happens almost as regularly as the leaves turning colors.

It also signals a shift in the role of the hometown reporter, who instead of staying somewhat neutral, has now become something of a mouthpiece and advocate for the fans. To put it in political terms, the reporter becomes "elected" by fans to represent them and their opinions in the Congress of sports discourse. It sure empowers the fans, but I'm guessing it also makes life a lot harder for the reporter.

And, of course, for guys like Wade Phillips.


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