Hola amigos. It’s been a while since I’ve blogged at ya, but the goings on in the Brother Bob household have kept me busy, and with all of the scandals that have been in the press over the last few weeks there hasn’t been an angle I could present that hasn’t already been written by somebody smarter than me. So let’s have a diversion with a subject of far greater importance to our country – pro football!
One of my favorite sports personalities is Jim Rome. For those of you unfamiliar he has spent the last few decades as the most famous sports radio talk show host. In addition to his daily syndicated radio show, he also has a daily 30 minute show on the CBS Sports Network and a one hour program on Showtime. He has more than his share of detractors, who often call him arrogant and repetitive. His low point came back in 1994 in an interview with Jim Everett which, years later Rome admitted was foolish on his part. But I’ve always enjoyed him – whether on the radio (back when he was still in the DC market) or on his evening show, I like him because he has learned from his mistakes to become a good interviewer, he finds interesting angles, and I think he can be damned funny at times. I’ve even found myself enjoying interviews with players whose sport I have zero interest in. I don’t golf, and although I do try to watch The Masters, I never watch it on TV and I certainly don’t listen to it on the radio. But around 12 years ago as I was driving to lunch he was interviewing a pro golfer I resisted the urge to immediately change the station at the start and wound up listening to the entire thing. Not many interviewers can pull that off.
Rome also handles politics well, in that he mostly avoids it. On the rare occasions he jumps into those waters he usually injects just enough snark into his leftist shots that you can just chuckle at it or wave it off. This is actually a rare talent, as among sports journalists I’ve only seen two others who can pull this trick off. If you’re wondering, they are Sports Illustrated’s great former pro football writer Paul Zimmerman, who sadly had his career ended a few years ago by a stroke, and author and SI freelancer Jeff Pearlman. Zimmerman’s rare shots were abrasive, but (like his sports-related shots) they were always brief and came off as honest and he quickly moved on. When Pearlman sometimes appears on Rome’s show he is up front about his views and throws the occasional dig, but he keeps it reigned in enough to not make you forget that the conversation is about sports. Most of the time with other sports reporters you get views that come off as whiny and naive, like SI’s Peter King, or self-righteous and condescending, like ESPN’s Rick Reiley. This is why I was so disappointed with how Rome’s been discussing the “controversy” regarding the Washington Redskins.
The Redskins are Washington DC’s pro football franchise, and their team nickname goes back to before their 1937 move to DC when in 1932 they changed their name from the Boston Braves to the Boston Redskins. You probably see where this is going – in recent years the professional grievance mongering community has decided that the team nickname is offensive and must be changed. Some DC politicos are calling for the name change, the local free alternative DC City Paper will now only refer to the team as “The Pigskins”, and a few years ago a Native American Indian advocacy group filed an unsuccessful lawsuit with the Patent & Trademark office to take away the team’s rights to the name. And I get the arguments - it’s meant as a slur, how would you feel if it were your demographic being named, etc. Heck, I remember about a decade ago having an interesting discussion on the subject with a cabbie and actually raising the same points that the people arguing for a name change are making today. Not that I supported the change (and still don’t), it’s just that I was pointing out the other side of the debate to the cabbie, who was very much in favor of keeping the team name.
Rome even shot a few digs at Redskins’ Quarterback Robert Griffin III (aka: RGIII) for some ambiguous tweets that may or may have not been on this subject. On 4/30 RGIII made the following two tweets:
In a land of freedom we are held hostage by the tyranny of political correctness
Tyranny- a condition imposed by some outside agency or force living under the tyranny of the clock
Naturally, Rome feels that the name needs to be changed – period. Rome and his sportscaster guests all agreed that RGIII had no idea what tyranny entailed and that his comments were inappropriate. Unfortunately on this story Rome and his colleagues missed the boat. Not that they didn’t have fair arguments, but it’s that they missed the notion that there was even another side to the story.
First off, the team name will not be changing as long as Daniel Snyder is the owner of the team. People forget that first an foremost Snyder is a lifelong fan of the team, and is now living the dream of owning the team he rooted for while growing up. And I’m no fan of Snyder’s – when he first bought the team he quickly earned the reputation as an obnoxious, arrogant micro manager. For that matter, I don’t even like the Redskins – I’m a long suffering Philadelphia Eagles fan. Hey, I actually liked the days when Snyder, along with General Manager Vinny Cerrato and Head Coach Steve Spurrier were mismanaging the Redskins to the point where I knew that with that brain trust running things the Eagles could count on two wins per season against them. My point is that however misguided and delusional about his football knowledge Snyder may have been (he backed off a few years ago and started letting real football people run the team itself), his passion for the team has never been in question, and he is about as ready to budge as any other similarly passionate fan would be if he or she were to take over their favorite team. But there’s another element to this where Rome completely whiffed in his coverage.
Who are the people who are deeply offended and concerned about the Redskins name? We’ve got a handful of Native American professional grievance mongers, some leftist politicians, and most of the leftist sports writer world. Do you know who else is concerned about this? Nobody. OK, that’s an exaggeration, but not many people outside of the leftosphere care one way or another. Two opinion polls (that were admittedly flawed) showed most Americans, and specifically most Native Americans don’t really care about this. Sports writers seem to have a near unanimous opinion on this subject, but they fail to realize that outside of the bubble where they live very few people share their views.
We see this same disconnect from reality in our leftist elites in the political/media/entertainment industrial complex. In a recent editorial The Washington Posts’s Mike Konczal shows his blissful disconnection from reality as he argues for Universal Basic Income. In a recent interview Nancy Pelosi said with a straight face that Obamacare will be a boon for job creation. Apparently she doesn’t get out much and talk to people out in the real world, and for that matter she is apparently powerful enough to also be insulated from most of her cohorts on Capitol Hill. We also see it in the incestuous relationships between news organizations and the Obama White House, which may help to explain the blissful ignorance with which journalists have treated all of the recent scandals of this administration until it turned uglyfor members of the press.
Lefties aren’t the only ones prone to the bubble mentality, either. Most of you reading this are conservatives, and how often do we venture outside of our own ideological circles? How often do we look for news stories outside of Fox News, Drudge, and our favorite blogs other than when one of our favorite writers is ripping on some story in the MSM and embeds a hyperlink to it? How many of us tuned in to election night results back in November 2012 confident that Romney was going to win? Even worse, how many of us thought that Romney was going to win in a landslide? I was one of the ones who knew that President Obama was going to get re-elected, but I did have one sliver of hope that I was wrong. And lest you think I’m blowing my own horn as some prognosticating genius, look no further than my predictions for the Eagles’ 2012 season, where I was thinking of a possible Super Bowl, while reality was thinking more on the lines of a 4-12 finish, 4th worst in the league.
Back to the original subject, Jim Rome could have made a stronger case had he sought opinions outside of his bubble on the team name. As for RGIII’s tweets, instead of just dismissing the comments as those of some clueless, naive kid, maybe Rome should have had that discussion with someone who recognizes that political correctness and it’s attacks on free speech are a real threat. Maybe the youngster is a lot smarter than Rome or his cohorts realize, and it’s a shame that they’ll never even think to question that assumption. As difficult as this is for this Eagles fan to say, on this day and on this issue only, I offer to Snyder and RGIII a sincere “Hail to the Redskins”. And just so there’s no misunderstanding, when our teams meet in our season opener in September I will still be rooting for my birds to beat the tobacco juice out of your team!
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go out and buy a dartboard so I can improve my football forecasting skills. And if that doesn’t work maybe I can use the darts to burst a few bubbles.
Cross Postedfrom Brother Bob’s Blog