Saturday, February 11, 2006

BOO! Yeah!

I promised earlier to write about Stuart Scott's moronic feedback column in ESPN the magazine. And I know both readers were on the edge of their seats in anticipation.

Well, with Stuart Scott, there are literally a hundred things to be annoyed by: trite and played-out catch-phrases, faux-street language, the way he presumes we care about things we have no business caring about. But he is, moreso than any other ESPN personality, in my opinion, jsut the most obvious and annyoing starfucker in Bristol. Never criticize, always deify the players. And that just isn't objective journalism.

While I don't think you can extrapolate from a single column the way his fawning sycophantism (word? now?) works, this week's column tries about as hard as one 250 word column can.

The first two questions should be read in their entirety:

Rob (Parsippany, NJ): Stuart, you recently said on Sportscenter that fans shouldn't boo. If I have a bad day at work, my boss lets me know about it. If I pay to see a game and the players don't perform, why shouldn't I let them know about it?

Stu: Yes, you have a bad day, your boss tells you - just like Larry Brown lets Stephon Marbury know when he's playing poorly. But what if your company's customers screamed obscenities at you too? Booing is classless. Not a single athlete out there isn't trying. A ticket gives you the right to be there, not to yell ugly things at people. That's my view.

Lee (Brooklyn): But Stuart, shouldnt booing just motivate a player to do better?

Stu: That works for some, but not others. You can't legislate people's reactions. So why not encourage an athlete in an 0-38 slump? That, or else step in against Roger Clemens yourself and see how you do.

Well, see enough fodder there? OK. The subject of the appropriateness of booing might be something upon which reasonable people can disagree. Some might see it as classless, others might see it as reasonable (I stand with the latter for professional athletes, the former for college athletes). But take note of how Stuart frames the argument. First, he rejects the idea that fans should have any say in terms of the performance of the players, saying it's the coaches' jobs, not theirs to evaluate performance. That is, simply, ridiculous. Paying customers and clients in any business have a right to comment upon service. My clients have every right to let me know if I haven't done a good job for them. It is not the sole job of an individual's superiors to review and comment upon performance. Stuart glosses over this, and even goes so far as to say that booing is "screaming obscenities" or "yell[ing] ugly things". Must I point out that swearing and booing aren't the same thing? Can't someone support booing, or even comical jeering without opening the door to abusive profanity? Why does he equate them all?

Then, see the laughable sentence about how "not a single athlete out there isn't trying." Hoe Lee Shit. Apparently when Vince Carter jerked his dick on the court for a month in order to get out of Toronto, it wasn't because he wasn't trying, but he was just unable to play with Stuart's head so far up his ass. There are a million examples of players tanking, sitting or pissing a fit to force a trade (Manny Ramirez, Ron Artest, Steve Francis just in the last few months, among others). There are a million more players who suddenly play 500 times better the year immediately before they happen to hit the free agent market, which makes one wonder about the rest of the player's contract years. These are prime examples that for some (obviously not all) players, the job is a job and nothing more - a paycheck, without the desire of winning. And for fans who want to think of sport as something more than a business (something pure, where winning matters more than the ledger), that's offensive. Not every player is trying out there, and when they aren't, the fans not only have a right to call them on it, I think they have an obligation.

Then to look at Stuart's response to the second question, because it's a total mess. First, he admits that booing might motivate a player, but then says we shouldn't "legislate" reactions. I have no idea what that means. Is Stuart opposed to required booing? Gosh, way to go out on a limb there. Has any of the letterwriters, or anyone with a brain, ever suggested that we require booing? Or is he suggesting that fans shouldn't boo because a couple of athletes might get their feelings hurt and not play better? Guess what - every player knows that when fans boo, they aren't pleased with performance. And every player knows that if he's a professional, he should do what is needed to play better. Suck it the hell up. You're a man. If somebody calls you a name, swallow it and move on. Stuart's writing here is totally appropriate for a pinto league team, but we're talking about multimillionaire professional athletes. Treat them like adults, like men hard enough to cut it in a tough world.

Then there's the final distraction sentence, the "yeah, well I don't think you can do any better." The last refuge of a pussy. No, I can't hit a Clemens fastball, probably not at least. But I don't get paid to. And I've never seen a player get booed for getting outplayed by a hall of famer. You get booed for playing matador to an inferior player on the basketball court. You get booed for not legging out a grounder that gets booted. You get booed for not trying, or pissing around and acting like a bitch. That argument has no place in the booing debate.

So I think he's just way off on the booing thing, confusing booing with explicit language, conflating the ability to boo with the requirement to boo, and finally unecessarily defending the players by means of treating them like children.

And that last part is the most interesting thing. Stuart Scott must defend players, at all costs. Three questions down the page, he defends Peyton Manning, calling him the best QB in the NFL and completely sidestepping the question of choking in big games with a "Stop hating." The last question on the page is all about how he cannot even choose between Vince Young and Reggie Bush because he wouldn't want to degrade one other the other. Well, when you're in this business, sometimes you have to make judgment calls that elevate one guy over another. Sport is all about competition and determining who is best. Stuart Scott seems to come from the "Participation Trophy" school of thought because he wouldn't want to hurt anyone's feelings. It's just lame.