Welcome to a weekly column by Kyle Bauer on various happenings in national and local sports. Agree or disagree with the author? Please comment below or let him know your thoughts by email,[email protected] or twitter, @kyle_bauer
Today I planned to take my lil weekly column that I do purely for fun to write something fun; trashing the NHL for their decision to re-up with NBC Sports for their television deal, allowing them to be shunned by ESPN and the mainstream American sports scene.
No, I’m not going to actually write, “then it was all put in perspective”. While this gig is unpaid, I’m still better than that. It can’t be that simple.
Give it a day or two and I’ll be back, all in for the Red Wings playoff run, Lions draft and eagerly waiting for Lawrence Frank’s pink-slip. We all will.
Will every sports fan in Boston suddenly kick back to Jagr and the Bruins, Rob Gronkowski’s arm and whether the Celtics can pull a first-round upset? Probably not, but maybe they will and if so, good for them.
I’m tired of canned reactions on a day like today. With the proliferation of the internet and “the importance of social media” (GAG.) everyone’s opinion now seems to carry some sort of weight. Not too long ago, we needed to take the time to handwrite and mail in a letter to an editor whose discretion would decide if it were sound enough to publish. Then we got email, which often wouldn’t make it past the author; typically insulting (or threatening) it was scoffed at then deleted before reaching the light of your PC monitor. Now we have Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, You Tube and the cesspool that is the usual internet commenter thread (NOT DSN OF COURSE!). All of us can be our own publishers–automatically our thoughts can appear for others to read. Now it appears our opinions matter more than ever. A lot of us try to write with such intent whether it be 140 characters or a rambling You Tube conspiracy video.
With this responsibility, we need to do more and expect more of each other.
Jeff Bilbrey, DSN webmaster, somehow felt my opinion was engaging enough to share it with you under his brand at least once a week. He gave me a responsibility and I owe it to him and to my readers to handle a situation like this with tact, rationality but also to deliver it with intrigue. Or I could just duck the situation all together because really, what the hell does my opinion matter in a moment like this. I’m a freaking sports blogger; I’m soooooooo low on the totem pole of society.
While we all don’t have a vehicle exactly like this, we all have some form of social media that we can vent on. Most of us will not duck what happened today, no matter our occupation or relevance to the situation. Most already have and will comment with thoughts and hey, freedom of speech, awesome, but let’s remember that no matter our vehicle, we have a responsibility behind what we put out to the world with our name attached to it. On days like today, everyone is paying attention to every status, tweet and ….whatever the hell an Instagram post is called, I don’t know. This is because we’re scavenging for information and updates and mulling over others opinions and commenting and sharing to cope with each other.
We now have this massive privilege simply by having internet access. On days like today, we can’t act as we have before. This isn’t clearcut polarizing like the Sandyhook massacre; 20 young children and six noble teachers were gunned down and we as a society used it as an excuse to kick and flail loudly as possible on the internet for “gun-control” or “pro-second amendment” all the way down to the bowels of government conspiracy theories and abstract abortion rhetoric.
Now this is where I turn; we can’t treat this tragedy as we did 9/11. Not only because this is of (relatively) less-magnitude, but we responded by listening to preachy sportswriters and anchors continuously telling us “sports is not important right now, tragedies like this prove it never was.” That’s really freaking easy to play the “perspective” card. Thanks Mike Lupica, before you I really believed the Michigan-Ohio State game was more important than 3,000-plus gone in the worst terrorist attack this country had ever seen. Come on now, lets not lick that stamp again.
A difference between now and then is that we’ve all magically (or mistakenly) have been given an audience. When a nightmare comes to life it’s tough to communicate, so lets choose our words wisely. Lets cut the clichés. Yeah, we’re all sad, we’re all pissed, and trust me, at least my faith in humanity has been waning for many years and we do absolutely know that sports don’t matter as much as it seems at times. It still matters though. It does have a place in our society especially in times of tragedy. Instead of telling you it doesn’t matter right now and reiterating the same blurb you will read a hundred times by a hundred amateur and professional writers, I’m going to say sports definitely does matter today and I hope it matters even more in Boston.
I’m not expecting any of those Red Sox fans who attended the tradition sprung Patriots’ Day matinée to care that Ryan Dempster pitched 10 strikeouts in a 3-2 win over Tampa Bay. I’m expecting them to be concerned, mournful and even paralyzed in total shock. I can expect what they’re feeling but I still couldn’t imagine being in such a horrible environment. I can imagine that tomorrow, some addled “Sawks” fan is going to pick his head up and say to his buddy, “Damn, this rotation has been unstoppable. I can’t wait ’til (Clay) Buchholz gets back on the mound and DOMINAAAAATES again!!!” then they’ll fist-pound and feel a bit better. That’s who Boston sports fans are; passionate, insufferable, loud and obsessed. Frankly, I’ve always been envious of their scene. Boston sports fans don’t let a home game become a simple Daiquiri filled social outing. There is not one franchise in that city that does not carry the weight of its people on a given night.
In a couple of days, old windbag sports writers will flip-flop from sports being “insignificant in times such as these” to “sports will serve as a much-needed distraction to a shaken region.” Alright, cool, tug on those emotional chords while simultaneously going to the well. What I write is relatively insignificant–this is a prideful yet fledgling Detroit sports blog–but I’m going to step up and say today, mere hours after this unspeakable terror, that I have faith and would expect nothing less out of Boston sports fans to be resilient and become more obnoxiously ravenous than ever. The Celtics have the Knicks due in the first-round, tell me that doesn’t sound rife for three wins in TD Garden!
Boston is a sporting city and has been for centuries. This attack happened on the Boston Marathon, a sporting event the city takes significant pride in. Lets not roll over, talking about how sports is insignificant, especially when the city with arguably the greatest sports-culture in the world is involved. We owe Boston and each other much more after today.
Kyle Bauer is an award winning college sports broadcaster and former Sports Director of WXOU 88.3fm, freelance journalist and radio producer who has been published in The Macomb Daily, mlive.com, Oakland Post and MIPREPZONE.com, follow him on Twitter @kyle_bauer