Sports column: Block out the media noise and just swim
Posted on Monday, November 14, 2022 at 9:17 am
LAUREN SEXTON | Sports reporter
As a sports reporter and student athlete myself, I am not new to the world of sports. It’s something I’m so familiar with, it’s become second nature. I’ve talked before about the pressures student-athletes endure, maintaining life balance, and dealing with outside criticism. However, on a recent basketball day, Nick Saban’s infamous rat poison was quoted about how the media can rub young players the wrong way after the coach quoted YAMAG. Rankings, tweets, outside gossip, positive and negative information affect the work of players and coaches.
In this case, it would be wrong to say that numbers do not define a person when it comes to sports. Athletes and teams rely heavily on numbers, from their stats to the number on the back of their jerseys. As the football playoffs begin at the start of the postseason and the preseason basketball rankings are released, people are buzzing, clouding team judgment. What really matters is the effort the athletes put forth on the court or field. There is more to a team or sport than numbers.
You’d think that if there was a positive piece of writing about a team or even a specific player, it would reflect well on the team, right? It sounds sad, but it’s not always good. When a team is consistently ranked in the top 10, the athletic program consistently produces the nation’s best athletes, and when they are in the championship game, the expectations are on them. They don’t lose in the regular season, none of their players have an off day, and their coaches never make mistakes. Weirdness dehumanizes a person. These players and coaches are the ones who lose games, rest, and make mistakes. Despite all the media hype, the moment a team loses a game, takes a day off, or makes a mistake, it’s the end of an era. “The crowned head is heavy.”
Just because the team lost does not mean that it should be removed or separated. It does not mean that a coach should retire or be fired if he makes a mistake. Turning on the TV, opening twitter, and seeing all the hate gets really boring. It started because the athletes and coaches loved the game. The media paints so many successful players and coaches larger than life that we forget they are people.
The upside to all of this is that there are fans. Sometimes fans are just as critical as critics. However, they have faith in their team even though they have never won anything. Growing up in Detroit, our pro teams didn’t win consistently, but I learned a lot about sports from being a Lions fan. Even though the Lions aren’t the strongest team in the league, the fans probably are. Those fans will always fill Ford Field, even if the Lions have suffered too many losses over the decades. I’m meeting Auburn fans this year. With all the drama that has surrounded the football program, fans continue to fill Jordan-Hare Stadium and support their Tigers. Alabama has been dragged through the mud since its only loss against Tennessee, but when I go to games I see people bleeding the Crimson.
It may seem out of character since I write for the media, but it’s time to realize that it affects teams. I attend my university, I was a student-athlete, now I’m a writer, I see it all. Take constructive criticism and build from it, don’t lash out, your ego will destroy you. You’re not just a number, you’re an athlete, a coach, and a fan. Just shut out the noise and just swim.