Thu. Dec 13th, 2018

To Oppose Without Hatred

College Football Playoff debates can get heated in a hurry. Oklahoma and Georgia have very energetic fan bases. Ohio State fans have shared a spirited opinion or two recently. Sprinkle in some obnoxious UCF logic on top, and poof! You’ve got a radioactive mixture.

Fans can get very passionate/crazy about their team’s postseason standing. It’s important for on-air hosts to remain passionate without becoming crazy themselves.

The playoff committee revealed on Sunday that Alabama, Clemson, Notre Dame, and Oklahoma have each earned a playoff berth. Georgia and Ohio State are the first teams on the outside of the playoff looking in. There are strong arguments to be made for which four playoff teams should be in the mix. Good arguments should be made without getting personal. I didn’t exactly exceed in this area myself a couple of days ago.

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Andy Furman and I do a show each Sunday morning on FOX Sports Radio. He was making a point that Georgia should be included in the CFP along with ‘Bama, Clemson, and the Irish. I had a much different opinion. “It’s funny because in the studio, SportsCenter is on right now,” I said. “Kirk Herbstreit has the same four [playoff teams] as you. And you both are idiots with that line of thinking.” I really emphasized idiots too.

As soon as I said it, I thought, “Too much.” I immediately wanted to take it back. It’s almost as if I could see the word “idiots” flowing out of my mouth. I wanted to grab it and put it back before it could be heard. Andy has thick skin and didn’t indicate if it even bothered him in the first place, but it was unnecessary. All it really did was invite anybody who views Georgia as a playoff team to dismiss my opinions.

We live in a country that tends to disregard the other side now more than ever. Back in my online dating days, I was amazed at how many profiles said, “Trump supporters, swipe left.” Not only did those people disregard a different point of view, they wanted no association whatsoever with anyone that thought differently. It wasn’t, “That’s fine you have those views, but I go the other way.” It was, “Get away from me. You have cooties.”

I don’t believe that listeners will disregard a host forever if they view a random Week 14 NFL game differently. However, I do think that being disrespectful to the audience can get you blacklisted. It’s too much to say something like, “You’re a moron and have zero football intelligence whatsoever if you think the Eagles are going to beat the Cowboys.” Insults are over the top. People are more geared these days to move on if they think differently. Why give them added motivation by being nasty?

I’m going to switch banks soon. I’ve been with Wells Fargo since 1996, but Flagstar has bought some of their branches out. My account automatically switched over. I spoke with Wells Fargo and they said I’d have to open a brand new checking account with them here in Portland. I asked about getting the same perk that others receive for opening a new account. If I’m inconvenienced and have to open a brand new account, shouldn’t I receive $200 bucks or whatever it is also?

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The girl I spoke with said she didn’t think it applied to me because I’m an existing member. Why would you invite me to leave your bank by not giving me the same perk that someone off the street would get? You’re basically saying, “Maybe check out Chase. They’ll give you cash money over there.”

Inviting and motivating your customers to go somewhere else is a horrible formula. It works the same way in sports radio with how we deliver our views. Why would we motivate our audience to go somewhere else by being disrespectful? There’s a saying that reasonable minds can disagree. Well, the reasonable part is pretty important. We can’t expect our views to be heard and accepted if they are delivered in an unreasonable manner.

Actor Mark Rylance said something once that has always stuck with me. He made a great statement while handing out the award for best supporting actress during the 2017 Oscars. “The thing these films made me remember and think about was the difficulty — something that women seem to be better at than men — of opposing without hatred.” I love the thought of opposing without hatred. Opposing is easy. Leaving out hatred sometimes isn’t, but it’s necessary to be heard.

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There is a commercial airing right now that features the Dean Martin song, “You’re Nobody ‘Til Somebody Loves You.” I disagree with the message — I don’t think someone else’s love is required for you to be somebody — but it’s much easier to accept the message because of the way it’s delivered. Dean never said you’re an idiot if you don’t believe this to be true. It isn’t necessary to sing, “You’re nobody ‘til the playoff committee loves you,” while delivering your opinion, but the delivery matters.

Look, I understand this is sports radio, not church. The conversations will rarely be buttoned up as if communion is about to take place. It’s a colorful medium that involves pressing buttons and firing listeners up. It’s fine to playfully say things like, “Did you take your crazy pills again this morning?” We’ve lost when the conversation escalates to, “You’re a bozo. Do you even have a brain?” An opinion isn’t the only thing that matters. The delivery, tone, and wording are all important as well.

We need to push the envelope without going too far. Sometimes we forget about stepping over the line and resemble Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick yelling at each other. The thing is that staying in Belichick’s good graces isn’t essential to Thielen’s paycheck, but staying in our audience’s good graces is essential to our job status. Would you yell at your sports radio boss? No, because you’d be out of a gig. If you yell at your audience, you’ll end up in the same place.

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The slogan for Discover is, “We treat you like you’d treat you.” That’s an interesting thought. How many of us would be disrespectful and condescending toward ourselves? Not many. It isn’t fun to be treated that way. It’s senseless to think that treating the audience in the same manner will actually be beneficial.

When somebody shares an opinion that makes zero sense to you, it’s easy to take a cheap shot. Believe it or not, we actually share opinions that make zero sense to others as well. We don’t want to be belittled when that happens. We still want to be respected. Always show others the same respect that you desire. Oppose without hatred.