Be careful out there, media members. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Media Kerfuffle Database*, media members are 61% more likely to engage in risky feuding behavior between the months of May and July.
During football season, deadlines provide discipline. Two-a-day columns keep writers focused. The regular flow of weekly press conferences and game days provide content. Even things like the NFL Combine, Pro Bowl, and Schedule Release announcements provide mockable tentpole events than can ground the otherwise careless media member. Once the NFL Draft is complete, though, things become a bit more dangerous on the internet streets. The careless writer or radio personality may be gazing around, looking down at his or her navel, and get easily caught up in pushing the boundaries.
We’ve seen this recently with Dan Le Batard talking about people talking about Dan Le Batard talking about other people. Most recently, that includes talking about Mike Francesa being an “enormous, ego-soaked gasbag.” In fact, Francesa is probably the number one drug of choice when it comes offseason problems and media squabbles.
People have questioned his soccer knowledge (unimpeachable), his hockey sources, and he has faced criticism from those challenging how we view sports. By late July, Francesa is always ready to tell others to just “bring it on,” frayed by another long offseason of battles.
His old partner-in-crime Chris Russo is also a frequent participant, whether mixing it up with Peter King over Tom Brady’s balls, sniping over the Redskins with Keith Olbermann, or facing heat over comments on the racial composition of satellite radio.
Another frequent source of media drama is the onset of the deeper reaches of the NBA playoffs–where the Finals and impending free agency give NBA commentators more attention to grab. Charles Barkley leads the way, seemingly challenging the healthy eating habits of at least one fanbase every year. Other former players can get in on the competition. Coaches can get pissed at media commentary. ESPN can go after Woj, to disastrous results.
While most of these incidents are harmless, mostly victimless crimes (save for the individuals involved), the summer months can lead to poor decision-making that can have disastrous results. Staring at a page view counter can lead to some loss of your humanity. Don’t mock someone with ALS in the middle of the summer doldrums. Don’t refer to someone as a “gutless bitch” because of a game interview.
Jack Mehoff, a media consultant who is currently working on the Donald Trump campaign, said a big issue is that the NFL offseason creates pressure to perform, even if there is simply nothing that people care to read about. That’s a volatile mix when combined with ego. This can lead to irritability, carelessness in checking the legitimacy of quotes and sources, and willingness to believe anything, especially if supported by made-up stats. This can in turn lead to people calling you out and starting yet another media feud. Stay vigilant and stay strong. Football and the Olympics will be here in August.
*note: there is no Media Kerfuffle Database … yet
[photo via USA Today Sports Images]