For the last few weeks, I’ve found it getting increasingly difficult to sit down to my computer and successfully relay solid ideas to our readers. For a few days I though the problem was that I was just going through a rough patch writing. I’ve been around long enough to know that it happens to everybody. (Not like that OTHER thing that happens to everybody. That’s not true.)
But that wasn’t the reason, I could tell. After that, I thought maybe I was spending too much time focusing on switching the podcast format (seriously, the More Than a Fan Podcasts are getting better everyday. You can subscribe here.), or maybe that I was spending so much time explaining my opinions on Twitter that I felt like I didn’t have anything left to write about.
It could have been any one of those things; but it wasn’t. After taking a week off from writing after last Tuesday and really trying to figure out what issue was getting to me, I finally figured it out. The Cleveland Browns are wrecking me.
Now, it’s not the Browns themselves that are a pain, but the constant – constant - buzz that surrounds every single breath the franchise takes. The problem isn’t really a problem, per se, but it’s definitely something that’s growing here in Cleveland faster than my appetite when I drink too much. That “problem” is that Twitter, Facebook, and the proliferation of sports blogs (yes, I can feel the irony filling up my lungs) has given everyone a voice.
Let me clarify before you yell at me. Everyone having a voice is important, we should all have a voice. And, frankly, we all always have had a voice. What’s going on these days isn’t just about everyone being able to make their opinions public, it’s adding those opinions on top of the arguments on top of the incessant local media coverage on top of even more arguments that almost completely took me out of being able to think and opine objectively.
The media portion of the problem consists of every single beat reporter or other media person tweeting every single thing that happens in every single practice, game, press conference. I know, you’ll tell me to stop following them on Twitter. You’re right, I absolutely could. But it’s not about the media members who I follow – many of which I usually enjoy – it’s that those folks will all get retweeted or quoted into my timeline by other people that I follow – whom I usually enjoy. But on top of the fact that the only way to avoid all that coverage is to bail on the very social medium that allowed me to become the writer/personality that I am today, it’s that the constant media coverage contributes to the rest of my issue.
(By the way, it felt pretty weird to refer to myself as a personality, like I’m some sort famous or something. Trust me, I’m just a blogger with a big mouth, but I didn’t know how else to explain how everything we’ve done here at More Than a Fan has gained a modest following.)
Twitter has done some fascinating and awesome things, but what it’s done in sports media, both nationally and locally, is sort of a double-edged sword. Twitter has made beat reporters and sports media personalities real people.
Back in the day, we all read our paper’s Browns beat reporter’s daily contributions and were constantly amazed by the access they had and the opinions that they were able to make from having the access. But we all saw those opinions after they had been polished by rewrites and editors. Now we see these opinions the very second that they are formed. We see their imperfections. We see them before the play three minutes later that completely disproves the original thought and makes us question the competency of the reporter in the first place.
(This is not an indictment on any specific Browns beat reporter or media person, so don’t start reading this backwards and upside down to try to figure out which person I don’t like.)
And now, not only are reporters showing their weaknesses by talking too much and too fast, all of us fans have access like never before. So many more fans are going to practices, watching the NFL network, and being able to pour over highlights and “watch game tape” online or on their DVRs. We read every press conference transcript and watch every minute of every game three times. You know what else we all do? Have the same strong opinions that once upon a time were only given a voice by the very same reporters that seem so easily replaceable now.
It’s the voice given to those strong opinions that has gotten to me. Or, to be more specific, it’s some of the people that think they’re the only one in the sports fan fraternity that are allowed to have those strong opinions. Don’t get me wrong, I love to debate topics and run my mouth – and finding like minded mouth-runners is part of the reason that all of this exists – but there’s a difference between having a point and just yelling that someone else is wrong. (I got so fired up for a second that I reverted back into my annoying use of run-on sentences.)
This mix of first-world problems has really gotten to my desire to talk about the Browns on a regular basis. And that hurts. The Browns have been a part of my life since I was still begging for macaroni and cheese everyday. (Honestly, that was probably only a couple of weeks ago, but you get the point.)
What I’m getting at is that – in this ultra modern world that allows everyone to voice their opinion – it’s impossible to voice your opinion without immediate judgement. If I get on twitter – which is where the genesis of this sports/media world takes place – and say that Brandon Weeden had a good game last week, I’m immediately yelled at about making excuses for him that I didn’t make for Colt McCoy last season. That means that I’m a Colt hater and my opinion is stupid. Conversely, if I say that Weeden struggled and that Colt should have gotten some snaps with the first team, I’m a blind Colt supporter and I must be rooting for Weeden to fail to prove my theories correct.
We’re not allowed anymore to cut a rookie quarterback some slack, or mention that he hit some receivers on the hands with passes that were dropped. We’re not allowed to mention thatMcCoy is playing better than we’re probably giving him credit for. If anyone ever mentions Trent Richardson having potential, there will be immediate accusations of stupidity because covering THE RUNNING BACK THAT’S CURRENTLY ON YOUR TEAM is somehow not allowed because there was the tiniest little chance the the he could have been Robert Griffin III instead.
No one is willing to debate anymore, we all just argue. We’ve gone from respectfully disagreeing by using a mix of statistics, trends, and projections to using sentences like, “You Colt lovers are idiots” and “Weeden sucks, you just hate Colt.”
I can’t be the only person annoyed by this, so I’ve developed a plan for the fans like me who want to have a good time debating football without getting sidetracked by the folks who’d rather just spend their energy trying to yell the loudest; just ignore the riff-raff and concentrate on the fun debates. I know it seems easy, but it took a while for me to actually put this into practice. I’ve always felt like I could handle the Cavaliers, Indians, and all the other sports debates pretty well, but the Browns stuff go to me this year.
So, here’s the first official opportunity you have for debate with me about the Browns:
- Cleveland wins four or five games in 2012.
- Brandon Weeden almost has Andy Dalton‘s rookie year, but play calling and receiver talent is going to severely hamper his production. (Yes, the same things that hampered Colt McCoy. Facts aren’t always fair.)
- It’ll take eight weeks, but Josh Gordon is going to end up being worth every bit of that 2013 second round pick.
- The bye week is week 10, I’m about 85% that Pat Shurmur gets fired after a loss to the Baltimore Ravens and the interim reigns get handed over to Brad Childress. Haslam Era here we come.