Friday, May 11, 2007

Curt Schilling, hypocrite

Let me put my biases up front. I dislike Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling. I think he's an unrepentant self-promoter, someone who spouts his mouth off at any moment, and, from what I've heard, not a very nice guy. But even for Schilling, his recent talk about Barry Bonds on a Boston radio station was over the top.

According to the Boston Globe, this is what Schilling said on WEEI on Wednesday, when asked by the morning show hosts if fans should hold their noses as Bonds tries to surpass Hank Aaron as baseball's all-time home run leader:

“Oh yeah. I would think so. I mean, he admitted that he used steroids. I mean, there’s no gray area. He admitted to cheating on his wife, cheating on his taxes, and cheating on the game, so I think the reaction around the league, the game, being what it is, in the case of what people think. Hank Aaron not being there. The commissioner trying to figure out where to be. It’s sad.
"And I don’t care that he’s black, or green, or purple, or yellow, or whatever. It’s unfortunate… there’s good people and bad people. It’s unfortunate that it’s happening the way it’s happening.”
The reaction to Schilling's comments was swift, and he was widely criticized for being insensitive and in part untruthful. He then apologized for his remarks on Thursday. But that's not really what I want to focus on.

Instead, let's turn to Schilling's blog, where he made that apology. Through the blog, 38pitches.com, Schilling likes to claim he has made the sportswriter obsolete. By connecting directly with fans, he says, he no longer needs to have his message mediated through the media, and that the traditional sports media is old-guard and irrelevant.

That claim, though, is total bunk.

First, look where Schilling made his comments -- on a talk radio station. If he really felt he could completely shun the media, he wouldn't make a weekly appearance there. Second, look where most of the response to Schilling's comments came -- in the media. It was discussed on sports talk radio and on TV. Odds are, Schilling would never have apologized for his comments if they hadn't gotten so much play in the media. Third, there's nothing in the world Curt Schilling loves more than talking about Curt Schilling. Without the media, his chances of getting his message across would be greatly diminished (after all, how many people read his blog compared to how many watch ESPN?).

(Apologies in advance for the terrible baseball pun I'm about to make, but I can't help it -- three strikes, and Curt's out.)

Schilling's a hypocrite because he hasn't gotten rid of the media -- he's just made more fodder for it. Indeed, I think this incident just reinforced how important the media is. We need the media to act as gatekeepers and disseminators of information. Without the media, we often wouldn't know what offends us, what uplifts us and what entertains us. Sure, I'll be the first to say that I hate when the media jumps on a bandwagon. But think of the alternative; imagine how much worse off we would be without the media to shape our perceptions, let us know what's important, and give us news we otherwise wouldn't hear. The media reporting on Schilling's words helped cause enough of a backlash that a man who claims to pull no punches actually apologized.

That's why I'm not worried about Curt Schilling or all this talk of a "new media" universe. It's incidents like this that show us the significance of traditional media. As long as someone needs to reach a vast audience, as long as there are issues that need to be discussed in a community forum, and as long as there's controversy, the old guys still have a big role to play.

For instance, look at how many blogs simply take most of their stories from traditional media, and then add a few comments of their own, without doing any original reporting. Without the traditional media, those guys would be nowhere.

So I think it's safe to say sorry, Curt, the sports media hasn't been eliminated -- and won't be as long as there are idiots like you out there to keep us relevant.

2 Comments:

At Sunday, May 13, 2007, Blogger J? said...

I also should be up front in saying that I despise Curt Schilling and just about everything he does. I will also say that Barry Bonds makes me physically ill. He wouldn't sign a baseball for me when I was 9 years old, I'll never forgive him. But all that is besides the point. Schilling was just completely off base in all of his comments. It's fair to talk about steriods, it's fair to go after Barry on baseball terms. But to bring in all that personal stuff, most of which Bonds never admitted, is not alright. Why can't Schilling just pitch? He wants to be more important than he actually is. After the 2004 World Series, the day after, he went on the campaign trail for President Bush. Schilling testified before Congress about steriods, and added absolutely nothing. Hey memo to Curt Schilling, you are a baseball player. You are a pitcher. You are also a self aggrandizing panderer. I don't even know if that's a word. All I'm saying is, just because you can throw a power sinker doesn't mean you are some sage for society. He should shut up.

 
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