Wednesday, April 18, 2007

No Whimsical Wednesday This Week

Because I have missed several days of blogging lately due to baby and family issues, I'm canceling Whimsical Wednesday for this week, and will resume it next week. Whimsical Wednesday is a gimmick for stretching out a certain amount of content over a long period of time in which little sports news will emerge. Another way of stretching out the content is simply not to post, which I have unfortunately done a bit of lately.

Today's content will revolve around a column by Birmingham News sports columnist Kevin Scarbinsky.

Sorry, Nick Saban. Too bad, Tommy Tuberville. Keep it under your hat, Les Miles. You're all playing for second place in the SEC.


Tim Tebow has started, and Urban Meyer has spoken.

The entire article reads like a love letter to Urban Meyer and Tim Tebow, in which Mr. Scarbinsky basically says the Tim Tebow is really really good; he's perfect for Meyer's system; and therefore the rest of the conference is playing for second place.

Your first response may be to think this is utterly moronic, and you'd be right. Your second response may be to write him an angry email telling him how moronic he is for saying it. You would mention, among other things:
  • Florida is replacing, I think, 10 of its starters on defense
  • Tebow plays a style that gives rise to a significant risk of injury, and his backup will be a true freshman
  • Tebow has not yet been asked to play a whole game, let alone a full season.
  • Games are played on the field in the fall rather than in Spring.
But before you write that email, let me inform you a few secrets. First, Kevin Scarbinsky knows that his column was moronic. Sometimes, a sports columnist writes something simply to get a rise out of people and get a reaction. The best way to do that is to write something inflammatory. If you're going to write something inflammatory though, you shouldn't write something so inflammatory that it will get you fired. The solution? Write something that doesn't attack anyone personally, but will get your readership fired up, negatively or positively.

This column fits the bill. It rankles both major groups of readership. Auburn fans don't want to hear that the SEC Championship is already decided. Bama fans don't want to hear how good The One That Got Away Is. Tebow was down to Florida and Alabama before choosing Florida, and many Bama fans remember this.

Second, Scarbinsky wants you to send him that angry email. Scarbinsky knows this is the kind of column that will get posted on message boards throughout the Southeast. Suddenly a minor, relatively unknown local beat writer will get some widespread attention for a few days. His editors will see him getting a reaction and lots of emails, and will approve.

In the media, any reaction is good reaction. They'd prefer you love the writer, but if they can't get love, hate will do. What they really don't want is indifference.

As deliberately-inflammatory-and-only-half-believed attention-grabbing articles go, I think this one is pretty clumsy. It is so obviously designed to get a rise out of people that for me it simply fails. It's too transparent. I can almost see him thinking, "Oh boy, I'm going to get some emails over this one," and engineering his article to get the maximum number. To be really effective, you have to be a little more subtle.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree with you about journalists trying to get a rise out of readers. But, I do think Tebow is perfect for Urban Meyer's offense.