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Would Better Buffalo Bills Results Mean Happier Reporting?

Photo from buffalonews.com.

Negativity often means reporting what the Buffalo Bills did.  Typically depressing game results make it hard to be optimistic, especially when chances are so high that a season will end in letdown.  It’s tricky to assess the media’s crabbiness when they can use the excuse of covering a team that seemingly has disappointment written in its charter.  But looking for upside helps us remember it’s possible.  Do so for mental health, if not for journalism.

The media platoon should neither be scouting spots from which to report on a Super Bowl parade down Delaware Avenue nor presuming the club they cover will botch 2018’s first overall pick.  Whining is only permitted on a case-by-case basis, even if that means many cases.

The simple but important guideline reminds those covering a team that it’s neither an undefeated champion nor an evil entity secretly focused on spoiling fans’ hopes.  I’m almost positive the latter is untrue.  Anyone who’s encountered reporters could surmise they’d be salty even if the Bills were winning.  It’d be nice to have proof.

Covering sports is a field that attracts people who aren’t loathed for perkiness.  Suspicion is in the job description.  There were two quotes printed out and taped to the door of my college paper’s sports department that still apply even one million years after graduation.  The notions that “The team must never become ‘we’” and “Sportswriting survived because of the guys who didn’t cheer” remain true from the leather helmet era through today.

The team’s accomplishments can’t be claimed by those watching.  It’s wise advice for both fan and reporter.  As for typing while others are rejoicing, those in the press box are not supposed to whoop and high-five after a touchdown for good reason.

Photo of press box at New Era Field from mobypicture.com.

Offering dispassionate analysis is hard while high on enthusiasm or crushed by despair.  Tracking down information that may run counter to what fans want to hear is an innate goal of any press member.  But that doesn’t mean assuming it exists.

It’s easy for a natural moaner to get too confrontational in a deluded attempt to earn credentials.  Automatic antagonism is juvenile.  Try being critical first, and see if that goes far enough.  By comparison, many journalists would predict the world will end, then point and gleefully say “See?!” as an asteroid blocks the Sun.

Like how television viewers have more than three choices in our futuristic world, today’s cyber-consumer can read complaints about football at countless venues.  There’s a difference between a newspaper and, ahem, a fan’s blog, which is a blessing to buffet patrons.

Either get the conventional account or turn to those whose outsider status permits a more subversive attitude.  Like a general manager with 10 draft picks, it’s always nice to have options.

Fans have access to not only innumerable opinions but every possible version of irreverence imaginable.  Sundry tones ensure everyone can find what they feel to be an interesting voice.

Simply seek honesty.  Unlike Howard Stern lamely trying for widespread appeal instead of staying edgy, those covering sports should stick with the approach for which each is best suited.  The print media would look foolish trying to be snarky about conventional wisdom just as bloggers shouldn’t attempt to be Serious Journalists.  No matter what, the existence of WordPress means options even if staid fans decline them.

Amateurs can offer something worth hearing.  It may just take a bit of scrolling through a hashtag.  Disregarding someone over a lack of qualifications reflects poorly on the snotty judge, not the judged.

Many print daily reporters are awfully dismissive of opinions that are unsanctioned by a publisher.  We’ve seen that working for a respectable outlet doesn’t validate takes.  In the same sense, Johnny Manziel’s business card could note he’s a first-round talent.

Photo of Johnny Manziel from theodysseyonline.com.

The condescending mindset toward instantaneous publishing isn’t making the ancient ways seem cooler.  Reporters who dismiss internet posters out of hand are like taxi drivers laughing at that silly Uber app.  Judging individual correspondents on their merits even if they don’t pay bills by covering football would be judicious, so expect it to not happen.

The presumption that content is automatically invalid if there isn’t a physical copy involved embodies the dismissiveness we’ve come to expect.  It certainly won’t stop the Earth from rotating.  Like Tom Brady’s stupid and evil success, time will progress without regard for feelings.  Change’s inevitability is sad news for every out-of-work opera hat company employee.

Professionals are the only ones who generate valid work.  Just ask them.  Disdain for those who bypassed traditional media guardians is what dinosaurs do.  The Tyrannosaurus rex has trouble reaching the keyboard. Listen to a restaurant owner whine about a food truck because the upstart’s proprietor found a way to circumvent traditional building expenses to get the idea.

Winning cures everything, or so we’ve heard.  Yet gloom in sports coverage is often a reflection of personality, not experience.  A pessimistic outlook can infect a city.  The disease is self-perpetuating.  The easiest way to test if journalists are miserable at heart is to make the playoffs.  If the same crabs continue to kvetch after a divisional title, then we know who was a sad person all along.


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Anthony Bialy

About Anthony Bialy

Anthony Bialy lives in New York City and acts like he's still in Buffalo. He thinks "Buffalo 66" is biographical and considers it a crime against mankind that Steve Tasker is not in the Hall of Fame. He knows every bodega in Manhattan which sells Labatt Blue. Follow him on Twitter at @AnthonyBialy.

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