Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Gundy, Part II

Excellent story from Sports Illustrated's Stuart Mandel on the Mike Gundy situation. The comments were actually part of a larger story, so I'll include the relevant comments here--

"You'll have to excuse me if I don't buy that most of the people empathizing with Gundy are doing so out of genuine concern for the treatment of college athletes. If fans are really so sensitive to personal "attacks" on players, then how come I can go on any message board of any disgruntled fan base right now and find criticisms of certain players that are 100 times more scathing than anything Jenni Carlson wrote about Bobby Reid? Some of the most vicious posts are often directed at recruits -- high school kids! -- who spurn someone's school. These people are doing the same exact thing Gundy says he's so peeved about (and even worse, anonymously), and they're doing it in a public forum. How is that any less hurtful or embarrassing to the player and/or his family?

"And what about those stories we always hear about some kicker who misses the game-winning kick or a tight end who drops a wide-open touchdown and gets flooded with nasty phone calls and e-mails. That doesn't sound to me like a case of people acknowledging that the guy's "just a kid." As to Gundy's insinuation that a writer shouldn't dare question a player's attitude -- coaches themselves do so publicly all the time as motivation. Was there any outrage when Urban Meyer called his tailbacks "trash" in the spring of 2006? Of course not -- Gators fans ate it up. However, if a local columnist had suggested the same thing ... oh man, would there have been hell to pay.

"I understand the media paranoia out there, I do. College football is the only major sport where the media plays an active role in determining the outcome. However, there's a major distinction between "irresponsible writing" and "having an opinion." Ninety-five percent of the time, what fans consider to be "bias" or "unprofessionalism" is simply a writer expressing an opinion that happens to be unfavorable toward that fan's team. Jenni Carlson is a columnist. Her job is to state her opinion. And while this particular column had its share of flaws (mainly that she didn't attribute her descriptions of Reid's "problems" to a definitive source), the tone was so tame compared to others I've read in the past (Florida writers calling ex-Florida State QB Chris Rix a "bonehead" in print, for example) that I'm guessing most readers would never even have batted an eye if not for Gundy's rant. But because so many fans have so much pent up resentment toward their local columnists (because, as is their job, they've undoubtedly expressed unfavorable opinions toward their favorite team at some time), they probably found some sort of justice in watching Gundy call her out like that. Should he have "kept his mouth shut?" No, not if he genuinely feels the player was wronged. But I can think of any number of more professional ways he could have voiced his displeasure."


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