Do you remember growing up with the kid in school that would talk trash about the other kids? That boy who would try to make himself look better on the playground by making the kids around him look worse? Well, those same little meanies eventually become adults. Even worse, some of those adults turn out to be your co-workers.
Most people have a story about someone that is difficult to get along with at work. Chris Rock pointed this out in his stand-up comedy routine “Bigger & Blacker.” Rock said, “Every woman’s got another woman at her job that she can’t stand. And women, y’all exaggerated everything. You always turn it into some Dynasty [stuff] like, ‘She’s trying to destroy me.’ What are you talking about? You wrap up bags at JC Penney.”
Sure, we’re all capable of making drama out to be bigger than it actually is, but we don’t exaggerate everything. Some people are just flat-out difficult to deal with. You may find yourself in some tense situations during your professional career. It gets a lot trickier when the person that’s tough to deal with happens to be your on-air partner. Then what?
I’ve been in situations before and have heard many other shows where one host is trying to outperform the other. I don’t mean the times a host is trying to make a better argument. That’s totally fine. I mean when one host is taking cheap shots while attempting to discredit the other person. Intentionally trying to sabotage a teammate is one of the worst sins a host can commit.
Make no mistake, two people that do a show together are teammates. Do you think a football team would be successful if the left tackle tried to sabotage the quarterback by letting his man go free for an easy sack? Of course not. All that would do is make the left tackle look bad and the team look worse, yet there are plenty of hosts that choose this exact path thinking it’ll somehow pay off. It never does.
Former Los Angeles Raiders linebacker Matt Millen made a few comments years ago that relate to this topic. On NFL Network’s “America’s Game,” Millen said, “If somebody holds you, how do you make him stop? You need to talk to the official? Fine. If you need to grab him by the throat, great. If you need to punch him in the throat — whatever you need to do, get that done.”
Although it might be deserved, we aren’t on a football field so grabbing or punching your co-host’s throat is not an option. Instead, dropkick your partner in the throat. Just kidding. The entire throat area is off limits. So how can you deal with a selfish co-host without having the HR police after you? Don’t get personal. Get creative. Here are a few strategies to make the situation better.
The first thing you have to do is be the bigger person. It’s very tempting to fight fire with fire. It won’t help anything and you will look equally as silly. It’s bad enough that one host is belittling the other. The audience will feel like they’re listening to their parents argue if both hosts do the same thing. It’s just uncomfortable. First things first, don’t get sucked in by retaliating and also getting personal.
The next part is letting the producer produce. Bill Belichick preaches to “do your job.” That obviously means to focus solely on taking care of your responsibilities. What’s hidden is actually letting others do what they’re required to do. “Do their job” if you will. It’s the producer’s job to keep the on-air talent in check, not the co-host’s responsibility. Instead of the quarterback telling the wide receiver how to run his routes, a coach should be stepping in. Allow them to.
What if you don’t have a strong producer? I guess you’re back to the throat-dropkick tactic. No, just simply communicate. Believe it or not, many people are actually unaware that they’re behaving like idiots. It needs to be brought to their attention. Calmly say that it’s important to attack the argument, not the person — especially if that person happens to be your partner for crying out loud.
Everybody in sports radio wants to shine. The problem is that there are way more Carmelo Anthony hosts than Steve Nash personalities — many look for ways to assist themselves instead of setting up their teammates. It’s vitally important to get hosts to focus on putting on a good show, not just being the star. It’s the worst formula possible when a host is willing to do absolutely anything to outshine the other.
Did you see Scottie Pippen constantly refusing to share the ball with Michael Jordan? Ever see Robin intentionally sabotage Batman? How about Shaggy trying to lead Scooby Doo down a harmful path? No, no, and are you crazy? Shaggy was a man of principle! Think of how ridiculous and damaging it would’ve been for each to try to outclass the other at any cost. It just doesn’t work.
Matt Damon’s character in Rounders perfectly describes professional poker players competing against amateurs at the same table — “It’s like the Nature Channel. You don’t see piranhas eating each other, do you?” The same should always apply to sports talk radio. Unfortunately, there are many piranhas that love nothing more than to feast on their fellow fish. Don’t bite back by stooping to the same level.
One of the toughest things in life is to show respect to someone who doesn’t deserve it. At times it’s a job requirement in sports radio when you have a self-centered partner. Just don’t bully the bully. It only leads to added tension and the situation becoming more awkward. Think long-term. You have to lead by example instead of getting sucked into the drama. The ultimate test is to have your partner’s back even when they don’t have yours.