Today: In which we avoid the Tweet below, and write about the goofiest day in sports media. Because sports are supposed to be fun, man. We’ll mailbag it later this week. Fire off funny emails and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweets to @Hadfield__.
— Ryan Hadfield (@Hadfield__) January 29, 2014
The transcendence of the Super Bowl just wasn’t palpable. Maybe Shankeroo was right: I couldn’t muster up the energy – the will, really – to write and think and care about Seahawks-Broncos, because I’m just a fanboy whose soul was crushed in Denver a few weeks ago.
Nah, that can’t be it. Maybe it was the increasingly smarmy corporate feel of the event. Although, the controversial New York City setting could be a more likely candidate. The incessant discussion around the forecast certainly hasn’t helped. Come to think about it, the nonsense surrounding the Richard Sherman Is A “Thug” Camp versus The Richard Sherman Is A Passionate Guy (WHO WENT TO STANFORD!!) Camp kind of curbed my appetite. And there’s no chance that anything I could put down would, you know, stay down because the “Peyton Manning: FOOTBALL DEITY” characterization is already as nauseating as the pending Super Bowl commercials, and the other commercials that won’t even air.
But one thing changed all this: MEDIA DAY, because I’m pretty sure I love Media Day. Or #MediaDay, as the current parliament refers to it.
#MediaDay is Super Bowl week unplugged; the spectacle in its pure, unabashed form. We hate the circus-like atmosphere, but really we love it, because #MediaDay serves as the saving grace, where thrills and frivolous shit occurs, causing the ACTUAL media to complain about THE DEPRAVITY of a woman in a wedding dress showing up to propose to a player, when, in actuality, the outrage is more likely due to longer lines at the buffet and bruised egos.
Because, like, seriously, the Super Bowl should be about the game, and only the gatekeepers of the fourth estate could deliver us the coverage we need. Forget the hoopla! The show-stoppers! Wouldn’t you rather spend $80 to go hang out in a hotel with Jerry Rice and Peter King?
(Careful, though, this event is only for those of legal drinking age — PK may love his coffeerdness, but don’t think for a second that he’s not a salty dog, waiting to unleash nuggets of knowledge, over some Long Island Ice Teas. And once the ball gets rolling, we could hear a Haiku – or TWO! — to capture the moment, because literary prowess and events sponsored by Citibank go hand-in-hand.)
#MediaDay is the sports world and the mainstream world colliding without pretense. Agendas are clear. And what these sports writers don’t realize is the moments that make #MediaDay awesome is not dissimilar to the manifestation of the same narratives, full of the usual clichés and platitudes, that they push on readers/audiences on a regular basis.
There are things at stake here, everyone. Two examples are as follows:
THE CHANGING OF THE GUARD
An oldie, but a goodie: I’m not talking about Peyton Manning vs. Russell Wilson, or the macro issue in terms of stylistic MOBILE vs. POCKET PASSER QB play. No, no, no. What I’m talking about is Ines Sainz bequeathing her throne as the scorching hot foreign reporter to the new breed of TV Azteca reporter, Mariana Gonzalez. The torch was passed yesterday.
It was simply Mariana’s time. We were all witnesses.
NEXT MAN UP
What did we hear throughout New England’s run this year? The genius behind Bill Bellichick is his ability to plug in nobodies and not miss a beat. Chris Jones became a commodity by the AFC Championship game. The lesson? When you’re injured and hurt, you don’t make excuses, you coach others up. TEAM BUILDING.
#MediaDay, again, is this trope personified: Enter a guy like DeSean Jackson, who showed up to the event, accompanied by none other than Terio, an Internet folklore, the product of a viral meme, who was more than ready to fulfill his destiny and drain every part of the last 15 seconds left of his five minutes of fame. Because #MediaDay is the best.
How does this relate to the Patriots and next man up? Well, DJax & Terio teaming up, as a power duo, is perplexing on the surface, but if you’re a NFL wide receiver and your ex-girlfriend recently makes headlines from being caught sitting shotgun with Justin Bieber, as he gets arrested for drag racing in Miami, the only play is to align yourself with the likes of Terio. Can’t let the people know you’re hurt. And the only way to do that is roll with Terio. It’s called tact, guys. #Knowledge.
OK. Kidding aside, here’s why I love #MediaDay. For most of us, watching sports is an act of escapism. To that point, by definition, fandom is an irrational endeavor. These elements combined – the urge to get away and the irrationality about the whole thing – makes it pretty obvious as to why sports fans generally hate the Super Bowl.
Put simply: when a sports story goes mainstream, it sucks because people (most of whom aren’t fans or familiar with sports and its appeal) have to weigh in and dissect WHAT IT ALL MEANS. Suddenly, instead of talking about the games or Tom Brady’s deep ball, we’re talking about the dangers of bullying, faux Internet girlfriends and Catfishing, and other Tebowian matters.
This terrible discourse is best summed up by the current subject of “tanking.” Media personalities talk about the art of tanking more than we watch the Celtics play. We moralize about the merits and pros/cons of losing on purpose, and how that’s antithetical to the driving influence behind sports, which is competition. Meanwhile, here’s a metaphoric gun, load it up and shoot me. If you can, I want the bullet in the face, please.
While there is nothing more mainstream than the Super Bowl, #MediaDay manages to turn all the sanctimonious bullshit upside down. It’s ridiculous and stupid and people spend more time talking about the antics then the players and game itself. It’s a reminder of the silly premise behind professional sports: that in the end, we all just want to get away and watch grown men jump and run and hit and throw until someone is crowned champion. In a weird way, I love #MediaDay for the same reason I love sports: it’s a big waste of time full of characters and crazy moments.