“Mary wished to say something very sensible, but knew not how.” – Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
Long ago, the world was populated by thoughtful and brilliant artists, ones whose skills, having taken decades to master, could encourage discourse, shape consensus and affect change. Philosophers. Writers. Orators. They were lauded for their insight and their ability, their awareness and their honesty.
Alas, in the last generation, much of that has changed. Thoughtfulness has gone out the door, replaced by simple volume. Prose and poetry have morphed into hashtags and words in ALL CAPS. The words ‘content’ and ‘take’ are en vogue and desired, both by producers and consumers of such.
Take this industry, for example. Sports journalism is dying, to those of us in it, a slow death. To those who wish to be on the vanguard of what’s next, the end can’t come fast enough in the scramble to push the shiniest, brightest and hottest for eyeballs and clicks.
It’s all too much for those who actually seek to help the public understand. YouTube and Facebook have exacerbated the state of affairs. Anyone with a laptop, camera and email address can present their musings and/or deranged theories as equal to those with more knowledge, more connection, more intelligence.
And it’s ruining sports as a whole.
Deion Sanders, Colorado and the Big 12
Over the weekend, a moderate limelight shone on the team we here at Best of Arkansas Sports follow. Not for anything that actually happened, though.
Instead, the Razorbacks, as a team and a fan base, drew malice and lies on a semi-viral YouTube video for something that has no effect whatsoever on the program. The ranter in question claims, according to “reports,” that Arkansas – and I quote – “is VERY UPSET” that Deion Sanders and Colorado are leaving the Pac-12 for the Big 12.
Colorado, to be clear, has yet to play a single game with Sanders as a head coach. But the Buffaloes drew immediate interest when he took the job, thanks in large part to his fame from playing, on-air years of hot-taking and stint coaching at Jackson State.
Sanders’ larger-than-life personality is surely appealing to many, including recruits, which is what the initial column at Sports Illustrated said could be troubling for Arkansas, what with Colorado set to get more exposure in a Dallas-Fort Worth area which coach Sam Pittman and Co. highly value on the recruiting trail.
Pittman has made no comment whatsoever on Colorado’s move. And why should he? The Big 12 isn’t the SEC. It’s the SEC’s little brother. Colorado isn’t a winning program, either. The Buffs have had a total of one winning season since 2005 (not including the shortened 2020 campaign) and isn’t exactly a favorite to break into the College Football Playoffs any time soon according to betting online on 1xBet site.
The introduction of the transfer portal – something with which Sanders appears to have success – has made it so teams can instantly go from terrible to solid, absolutely. But to think that alone will turn Colorado into some sort of national powerhouse worthy of acknowledgement from Arkansas is just silly. Pittman, like all major college football coaches, has confidence in his ability to recruit and wouldn’t be afraid of any such challenges.
What the YouTube Video Got Wrong about Arkansas
The original column opining on a potential threat to Arkansas was fine, acceptable. But whatever hit YouTube became perverted, because a mildly popular influencer proclaimed Arkansas as upset by Deion Sanders coming to the Big 12, which meant some weird, faulty sense of validation came from it.
Not real validation, mind you, just a word that has lost its natural meaning in this generation of non-stop opinion masquerading as legitimate news. By no means was the column’s author Andy Hodges upset, the first thing about which the YouTuber was wrong. He also appears to be confusing the Sports Illustrated piece with the Arkansas football program as a whole.
Such conflation is a significant problem across the board, not just sports. Gone are the days – at least among the uneducated – where the outlet simply covered the thing it was purportedly covering. Nowadays, consumers seem to think coverage of something – presidents, Congressmen and Congresswomen, sports teams, a particular movie or band – is tacit approval of that something. Somehow, to such people, the author of a piece and the subject of a piece have the same opinions and stances. Insane.
For example, the YouTuber remarks at one point in the video, “I hate to say it, but (with) Arkansas releasing this article, it sounds (angry).” On what planet is Arkansas releasing the article? Journalists aren’t writing *for* the school. Read the piece for yourself, nothing about it sounds angry, whatsoever.
Or how about: “Arkansas is the first team of many teams to break their silence in regard to the future of recruiting and this is crazy.” Arkansas hasn’t said peep. And silence was hardly broken. Coaches and administrators across the country have been pontificating about the troubles the transfer portal and its associated NILs have wrought for months.
Make no mistake, provocative headlines and opinions have been around in serious journalism since the dawn of the medium. They aren’t new. In sports, however, they were once proposed by people with some insight into the inner workings of a team. Now the people whose inane remarks on drive-time sports-talk radio, the kinds of folks the host would let take up five minutes of show time, can present their viewpoint as tenable, simply because of their volume and emotion.
It’s easy to say “Oh, you’re no fun. It’s just people talking about the sport they love. They’re entitled to their opinion.” OK, fine. I’m not going to bother arguing that, even if I disagree with it. Confusing such people who do that, though, for people who have actual insight only dumbs down everything surrounding the game. Or political discourse. Or whatever.
Let me say this, though: If you want discriminating judgment, actual news and rational viewpoints, you have to make a point to consume them and start ignoring the nonsense from poseurs.
Below is the Arkansas football screed in all its fumbling, disjointed and inept glory.
Prepare to laugh, cry and mourn the future of our nation:
UPDATE ON DEION SANDERS VIDEO
Jon the Liquidator has issued a retort.
In it, the shout-y influencer reads lengthily from the SI column and Eric Bolin’s BoAS piece above while having good ole time considering that someone would have actually paid so much attention to his work.
Much of his defense hinges on a very unfortunate line of thinking – that the “Arkansas Razorbacks” are the author of the column because he saw their name at the top of the SI column:
The problem here, to anybody who is even 1/6 conscious, is that this is a subject label, not an author. If he had zoomed out some, he would have seen the author’s name – Andy Hodges – above the fold.
At 6:25 below, Jon takes offense that BoAS insinuated he said Sam Pittman stated anything about Deion Sanders. “I didn’t say in the video that [Pittman] did say anything about Coach Prime,” he says. “I said the Arkansas Razorbacks [did]. In that Sports Illustrated article I showed you guys at the beginning in the video you clearly see ‘Arkansas Razorbacks’ in the column of that video.”
Oof, I just don’t know what to say.
At the end, after sending a “shout out to the Arkansas Razorbacks for trolling me and Coach Prime,” he off-handily mentions: “I apologize if you think that video was saying that the [Arkansas] football organization said that about Caoch Prime. It was clearly Sports Illustrated. But Sports Illustrated did state ‘Arkansas Razorbacks,’ like they was kinda representing y’all.”
I’m about, oh, 20% reassured by that.
More coverage of Arkansas football and Deion Sanders from BoAS…