The furor over radio shock jock Don Imus’ nasty remarks about the Rutgers Women’s basketball team reminds us of the larger issue of how rude much of broadcasting has become, particularly political talk and call-in shows of course, but sports are by no means exempt from this pestilence. And it even seeps into sports fan message boards and chat rooms, where the “discussion” often descends into name calling and other unpleasantness, instead of engendering a feeling of camaraderie among the participants or excitement about a given team.
Part of this money driven. Media companies notice the high ratings that sometimes arise from rantings like Imus’ and his ilk, so they seek out other thick-skinned broadcasters to dish out this pollution to listeners, or in some cases they coach the talk show hosts to inject more controversy into the programs.
In my view, life is too short and precious to waste time listening to or watching programs obviously designed to make you angry. Those of us seeking news and information from broadcast channels too often are subjected to opinions or advocacy instead.
There’s even a new kind of journalist, the “media critic,” employed to give his or her opinion on all the other opinion-givers out there in broadcast land. These individuals tend to be cheerleaders for the controversial broadcasters, endorsing personalities that are abrasive or “edgy” and labeling the nice people involved in broadcasting as “boring.”
I like boring sports broadcasters. I like broadcasters who blend into the background and let the game be the story, or are economical with their use of words. I prefer individuals who behave like gentlemen or ladies on the airwaves, broadcasters who have respect for the sensibilities of their audience. I just want to know the score of the game, who won and who lost.
I don’t need windy pontification about the grand social significance of this or that athlete, or this or that sports event. Because there is no grand social significance. It’s just a pastime (which the dictionary defines as: an activity that occupies one’s spare time pleasantly).
Wouldn’t be great if sports—and the people who talk and write about sports--could be fun again?
Or put another way, if it were up to me, there wouldn’t be any Don Imus controversy, because Don Imus wouldn’t have ever been on the air in the first place.