Timeout with Tambo: No story? Create a controversy
There are definitely times when I get writers block, especially when I sit down to write a Timeout. However, the national and international media has recently taught me a trick that I will endeavor to use in the future.
When there is no story, when there is no controversy, when there is nothing about which to write, I will make up a story or a controversy or both. That is what the big boys do on television and radio and then Sports Illustrated picks it up and a story/controversy is born.
The BCS (Bowl Championship Series) championship game was not much of a contest. The Tide rolled over my Irish. So the director directed the cameras to focus on a beauty queen (an actual contestant in state and national beauty contests) and the results were a story bigger than the game. The 73-year-old announcer knew who the beautiful young lady was and who she was dating. The announcer’s colleague in the booth was a former quarterback and the beauty queen’s boyfriend was the current quarterback of the Crimson Tide. The announcer noted and commented on the young lady’s good looks and a story and controversy was born.
The Mother Station, whose director put the young lady on camera in the first place, apologized for the announcer for saying the obvious. It didn’t matter that the young lady was not offended by being called beautiful on national television on the biggest broadcast of the year. It is a good thing that the girl from Alabama was pretty because the national championship game was not.
ESPN kept itself in the news. The people in the TV audience kept watching and best of all, the young lady has made more money and has gotten more publicity and recognition, and will be in the next Sports Illustrated bathing suit issue—another created-on-purpose controversy—providing a happy ending for everybody but the Fighting Irish.
However, the Irish were about to be the center of another media created controversy. The media made a huge story about a Notre Dame football player whose grandmother and girlfriend both passed away on the eve of a big game. The media was looking for a feel good story and didn’t bother to do all of its homework before inundating all of the media with what turned out to not to be the facts.
The grandmother passed away but the girl never existed. She was a part of the hoax. An imaginary dream girl turned into a national nightmare. Again, the Mother Station created a story and turned it into a controversy and they still don’t know what the facts are.
Enter Oprah. It has been a bad news week so Oprah somehow got the nation interested in another non-story. She got an athlete from the sport that invented cheating with performance enhancing drugs and got him to almost admit what everybody in the world already knew.
It was noted that he had passed every drug test known to exist. Big deal! Just because you don’t get caught doesn’t mean that you didn’t cheat. Ask OJ—being found not guilty doesn’t mean that you were innocent. Ask Pete. Just because you can’t produce the betting slips doesn’t mean you didn’t bet. Ask Roger and Mark and Sammy. Just because you never tested positive or admitted the truth, doesn’t mean that everybody doesn’t think you are guilty.
Being found not guilty doesn’t always mean that you won’t be punished. Shoeless Joe was declared innocent in court and was still banished forever in baseball.
Thanks Oprah for the great job of investigative journalism.
So in the future, if you notice that one of my columns is weak and the facts don’t add up, or it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t.
- Timeout with Tambo: Encourage children to create fun outdoors
- Timeout with Tambo: Fair competition equals success for Bulldogs
- Timeout with Tambo: Notre Dame Tradition
- Timeout with Tambo: Grappling with political correctness in the New Year
- Timeout with Tambo: Remembering Jack Menotti—an original
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