A Fan’s Right To Comment
This past Monday night was very interesting. I had not been home long when I received an e-mail from someone who took issue with the post I had on Monday regarding what I perceived as a lack of activity from Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles. Since the person chose to e-mail instead of commenting on the site, they obviously chose to remain private, so I will honor that privacy.
The e-mail was actually very well-written and thought-out and made some good points – some agreeing with my assessment of Miles and others totally defending him. The e-mail had a mostly civil tone, but near the beginning – it asked “What gives you the right to comment on someone else’s pressure-packed job performance?”
After I read through the e-mail, the person quickly settled down and I really didn’t think much about it. Until…
Another thing that made Monday night memorable was that the Titans hired a new coach. They surprised a lot of people across the country by hiring Ken Whisenhunt, when the general perception everywhere was that he was almost certainly headed to the Detroit Lions. Almost.
I had sort of settled in for the night when I went to the website of our local paper, The Tennessean, to read the article about Whisenhunt’s hiring. After reading the initial article, I noticed there were already twenty-three comments. I decided to check the comments to see if most were as excited as I was about the hiring.
The first comment I saw said “Who?” The second comment said “Way to go Titans. Picked up another loser. This team can’t do anything right. The third comment said “Never heard of him”.
The first thing that ran through my mind was that if these idiots were this ignorant, they had no right to comment. I am assuming if they sought out the article and felt the need to comment, then they must be football fans, right? Well, any football fan would know that Ken Whisenhunt led the lowly Arizona Cardinals to their only Super Bowl appearance after the 2008 season and narrowly lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-23.
I certainly don’t expect my eighty-nine year-old mother to know who Whisenhunt is. My wife, Susan, had never heard of him either. But they don’t profess to be football fans, nor do they go to football related articles to comment in a public forum.
After I went to bed Monday night, I was thinking about the two incidents of the evening and mentally debated if there was any correlation. I had gotten outraged because someone had tossed out their opinion when it was clear that had no credibility and had no idea what they were talking about. Yet, a couple of hours earlier – I had wondered why someone could have gotten similarly outraged at my comments, when I perceived myself to be so right.
Obviously, in this country – everyone has the right to their opinion and to express it. But others have the right to argue and ridicule you if they don’t agree. The internet has given a voice to many that would otherwise never be heard. I put myself in that category. Whenever anyone takes to any public forum to spout their opinions, they open themselves up for criticism. I learned that a long time ago and have endured my share of arrows over the years. But I knew that came with the territory.
That’s why I appreciated the mostly civilized tone of the e-mail I received. I responded in a similar tone and we pretty much agreed to disagree. But the question kept ringing through my head…”What gives you the right…?” Well, other thn the US Constitution giving me that right, I admitted to myself that fans should have a responsibility to uphold before taking to the public forums of the internet. It’s called “investing time into the sport”.
These trolls who claim to be football fans undermined their own credibility by exposing their ignorance as to who Ken Whisenhunt was. The scary thing is that these may actually be season ticket holders. Having a wad of cash and attending a lot of games does not make you a true fan. Study the sport. Follow it. Learn it. Be a sponge and absorb everything about it. Invest time into it.
Not to brag (but I suppose I am), but I think I’ve invested a lot of time into the sport of IndyCar racing. I attended my first Indianapolis 500 almost fifty years ago. For decades, I have lived and breathed this sport. Before the days of the internet, I spent hours gazing over the few IndyCar magazines I could get my hands on. Each year, I memorized the latest program from that year’s Indianapolis 500.
One little nugget I’m not sure I’ve revealed here is that I submitted my resume to CART in early 1995, for no position in particular. Imagine my surprise when I got a phone call at home one night from Randy Dzierzawski, who was essentially CART CEO Andrew Craig’s right-hand man. I interviewed for a marketing position with CART at IMS the Saturday before the race. Needless to say, I did not get the job, but I was honored just the same.
Since 2009, I have been allowed a small peek behind the curtain through this blog. I know my place – I am not a journalist and don’t pretend to be one. I am a fan who utilizes this relatively new tool to talk about IndyCar, the things I love about it and some of the things that I disagree with. I think over the years, I’ve studied this sport and paid attention to the business side enough that I think I have a fairly well-formed opinion, even if it does not coincide with others.
So, unlike the Titans fans who had no clue who the losing coach was in the Super Bowl following the 2008 season; I think I have a pretty good grasp on IndyCar enough to give me the right to comment. Their not knowing who Ken Whisenhunt was, is like my not knowing who Vitor Meira was (he finished second in the 2008 Indianapolis 500 – similar to finishing second in that year’s Super Bowl). That also goes for readers of this site. I suppose I’m bragging again, but those that comment on this site seems to be some of the most civil and knowledgeable IndyCar fans out there.
So, please excuse my rant. The thought-provoking e-mail and the clueless comments from the Titans got my mind rolling down the same path on both subjects – fans comments. I guess this was a roundabout way of my justifying why I feel I have the right to comment on how underwhelming I find the Mark Miles era at IndyCar, while the Titans fans did not.
Regardless – We fans are getting frustrated. Mark Miles has been on the job for more than a year. The honeymoon is over. It’s time for him to show the fans that he’s got some ideas – any ideas. Show us some sort of plan and implement it. If it doesn’t work, try something else. But sitting inside the bunker does nothing but frustrate fans, while moss grows on you.