Friday, September 08, 2006

Sports Fans and Entitlement.

There was a story on the AP wire recently. For those of you who are unaware of what happened in Charlotte NC during a recent preseason game, here are the details...

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Greg Good, the Carolina Panthers fan who dresses up as "Catman" at home games, will receive a new pickup truck from Fox Sports after an on-air practical joke during a preseason game went awry.

During the second half of the Aug. 24 game between the Panthers and Miami Dolphins, Fox Sports announcers Dick Stockton and Daryl Johnston started billing a car giveaway as a reason for fans to stay tuned after the teams' starters left the game.

"Now all you fans out there, you might be thinking, 'Well, the starting units are out, we might change the channel.' We're going to do something special to try and keep you here tonight. We're giving a car away tonight," Johnston told viewers.

With 1:56 remaining, the telecast went to a shot of sideline reporter Tony Siragusa standing in front of the 6-foot-4, 340-pound Good, who was sitting in a front-row end zone seat wearing an electric blue wig and black-and-blue cape.

"The car is coming in right now," Siragusa said. "Here it comes. Beautiful. It's white. It's a Porsche."

He then handed a toy car to Good.

Good says he believed the toy was a token of the real car he was to receive and expressed excitement and joy. That turned to anger after Good, who counsels troubled youths, found out it had all been a joke.

A Charlotte Observer sports columnist took up Good's cause, writing a front-page column in Wednesday's newspaper that resulted in outraged fans e-mailing Fox Sports.

That led Fox Sports chairman David Hill to announce he would personally give Good the keys to a new Ford F-150 pickup.

"I'm coming to Charlotte Friday to apologize to Mr. Good for a joke that went terribly, terribly wrong," Hill said.

Hill said there would be punishments at Fox Sports over the incident, but said none of the announcers involved will be taken off the air.

"I take the reputation of Fox Sports very seriously and I don't want it to be sullied," he said.

Good expressed excitement at the turn his story had taken.

"I'm so surprised and so happy," he told The Observer. "I thought all I was going to get was an apology."

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

Now as a fan, I feel I am entitled to certain things. I am allowed to cheer as loudly as I please as long as my cheers are not offensive to those around me. In other words, what I say in a bar while watching the game might not be appropriate for the left field bleachers, and I need to acknowledge that. Also, I am allowed to boo as loudly as I please, and the same restrictions apply. I am allowed to refer to the team as "us" and "we". I can say things like "We need to win this game". No I am not a player or coach. But as long as I am buying tickets and/or merchandise either representing the team or from sponsors of the team, I am contributing to the fiscal survival of the team. I am an investor of both money and emotion, and I consider myself a part of that organization because of that. And my boss be damned, I am allowed to occasionally surf or to get updates on my team or any other issue that is keeping me from concentrating on my tasks at hand. Especially if they are playing an afternoon getaway game and I work in a cubicle in the basement of a building and cannot get the play by play any other way than with the streaming internet feed. If these things are not actually rights protected by the Constitution, they damn well should be.

What I do NOT have the right to is to think that because of a joke made on the air that I fell for that I am entitled to restitution because of my embarrassment. If I am a large man (I would consider 6'4" and 340 lbs as big. If anyone of that stature and girth takes offense, my sincere apologies) who dresses up in an electric blue fright wig and a cape (obviously a plea to be on camera, however fleetingly, so as to impress friends/family/ego) and is in fact singled out on camera and fall for what is really an old joke (who didn't have this done to them for their 16th birthday, or know someone who had it done to them by a family member or friend. My Dad was famous for this one). If the fact that Tony Siragusa was giving the actual prize away didn't make it click, I have no sympathy for Mr. Good for being so unaware of the budgets for locally broadcast preseason games. And then whining about it and getting a bunch of other people who have no sense of humor to write letters until the "guilty party" gives up and gives him his "real prize" just to shut him up, well that smacks of spoiled child syndrome. Technically, he was given exactly what was promised. As long as the toy car was new, it fits all the criteria of what they said was being given away.

"Good says he believed the toy was a token of the real car he was to receive and expressed excitement and joy. That turned to anger after Good, who counsels troubled youths, found out it had all been a joke."

So he believed that the toy was a token of the real thing. That makes him gullible and more than a little naive. It does not make him to be owed a car by the perpetrators of the joke.

And on a quick side note, what does his profession have to do with what he either believed to be true or what happened? I hate it when things like that are dropped in, trying to manipulate sympathies. If he had been employed as a day trader would he have deserved the "real" prize less? More? If he can afford season tickets and multi-colored capes, he should be able to afford a serviceable vehicle. If not, he may have to sacrifice his career as a tights wearing "SUPERFAN" and settle for TV coverage (maybe splurge of NFL Sunday Ticket if he must) and get himself that truck. I work helping special needs patients get the dental care they need. Is someone going to pay my mortgage for me? And if so, would they please contact me as soon as possible? I'd like to know if I can start allocating that money someplace more deserving, like PSL's and overpriced cups of beer at my local taxpayer funded stadium.

Now there will be "punishment" for the offense? David Hill takes the reputation of Fox Sports "very seriously" and will not tolerate its image being "sullied"? Amazing. This is the same organization that employed (or still employs) Jimmy Johnson and Jerry Glanville, and he says he takes the reputation of Fox Sports seriously? With all due respect to the men for their playing/coaching careers, but Chris Collinsworth, Howie Long, and Terry Bradshaw were NOT on the air because of their analytical ability. Jimmy Kimmel and Frank Caliendo making fat and bald jokes were definitely entertaining, but were in no way an attempt to win any awards that Edward R. Murrow would have been jockeying for. We won't even get into the journalism brought to the table by Jillian Barberie. The only "serious" broadcaster was James Brown, and he was more like a supervisor at the playground than anything else. So Mr. Hill, how about we don't take that particular route. If you just come out and say that you are doing damage control and that the cost of buying this random yahoo a truck is less than the cost of spinning it to your advantage, we will all be better off.

Really, what sums it all up for me is the statement by Mr. Good that he thought he was only going to get an apology, but now he is happy. Of course you are happy, you are being given a brand new truck for being a whiny little (rhymes with "witch").

I do think that teams owe the fans a lot more than they give them. For the amount of gouging that the fans put up with on a regular basis, the teams should be doing a lot more for the community and should be a lot more accessible. But no one is owed what Mr. Good felt HE was owed, and there is no way he should have received what he is being given. So a hearty "boo" to Mr. Good for taking a harmless joke WAY too seriously, and a bigger "boo" to Mr. Hall and Fox Sports for caving. And I will boo as loud as I want, because it is my Constitutional right.

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