To those in the media mocking Andrew Luck: You're kidding, right?
It is obvious by now that the fans of the Indianapolis Colts, who booed Andrew Luck off the field over the weekend as news leaked of his impending retirement, you know, didn’t exactly expose themselves as returning champions on Jeopardy.
Booing a Stanford-educated, 29-year-old man who has already dealt with a lacerated kidney, broken ribs, concussion and other injuries to his shoulder and leg sits somewhere between self-absorption (Luck just ruined their fantasy teams and their football team’s season) and crass (for obvious reasons).
But you know what’s worse here? People in the media who are quick to hammer the dolts who root for the Colts and bypass folks in their own profession who have totally lost their way.
Here is the scariest sentence I have ever written: Maybe Trump is right.
(OK, not about a lot).
But this: Maybe media members in this country need a refresher on the concept of offering an opinion with responsibility. And maybe a few editors ought to start doing their jobs, reining in their blatherers and bloviators, when “click bait” exceeds the bounds of decency.
Cases in point:
Dan Dakitch, a former college basketball player and coach who has become a talk-show host and ESPN analyst, actually lobbed a conspiracy theory at his listeners.
“Andrew Luck lied to us numerous times. And I’m sorry if you feel that that’s not accurate, but he did,” Dakich said on his Indianapolis radio show, alluding to whether Luck’s injuries have been real.
Sayeth Doug Gottlieb of Fox Sports via Twitter: “Retiring because rehabbing is 'too hard' is the most millennial thing ever.”
A more cynical fellow might simply dismiss such prattle as the rantings of former athletes whose liquor cabinets have always been better stocked than their bookshelves. But then, that’s a more cynical fellow.
Me? I’ve never understood why bouncing a basketball or throwing a football renders one an expert at anything else other than bouncing a basketball or throwing a football. Example: I truly enjoy Tony Romo’s football analysis on CBS. But I’d pass on hearing Tony talking about Carl Jung’s four major archetypes and how they affect the modern psyche.
And yet our major media moguls employ such characters presumably because their celebrity begets interest. Interest begets clicks. Clicks beget advertisers. So they get to say whatever they want now, even if that’s calling a young man who studied architecture at Stanford and would like to be healthy for the rest of his life a liar and a softie.
It’s curious how this media stuff works sometimes. We try to present the more human side of athletes to readers and listeners — much to the chagrin of the athletes at times who remain guarded and untrustworthy — and then when a man like Luck does something entirely human, we show the athletes exactly what they mean to us:
They are what they do.
We don’t care about them and their families. Just what they can do on the field.
They need to play hurt because otherwise what would happen to our fantasy teams?
They need to play hurt because what would we have to talk about in the papers and on the airwaves?
And those pesky little details about former athletes who can barely walk now at 50? Hey. They made a lot of money and knew what they were getting into. No sympathy here.
It wasn’t always like this. Dan Shaughnessy once wrote a column in the Boston Globe about the insular lives of today's athletes, in his words, "how they are shielded by publicists, agents, and lawyers" and how "interview access is parsed out like a high school hall pass."
I’m not sure I blame any athlete any longer for shunning the media. I’ve been annoyed with Derek Jeter for years now because he began The Players’ Tribune, an online media outlet for athletes to tell their stories in their own words and without assistance from the media. I always wondered why a guy who never got asked a tough question in his life would be so distrustful.
Now I get it.
Meanwhile, I hope the rest of us will turn the channel, unfollow or simply ignore the musings of Mr. Dakitch and Mr. Gottlieb. They didn’t merely question a man for choosing his family and his health over his career. They mocked him. And are still employed. Nice gig if you can get it.
This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro
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