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Learn to Disarm Your Opponents

“I’ve learned this lesson over and over again the hard way; it’s not only what you argue, it’s how you argue.”

Brian Noe

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I’ve got some good news and some bad news for you.

Let’s start with the good news; the U.S. Women’s National Team beat the Netherlands 2-0 on Sunday to win the 2019 Women’s World Cup. USA! USA! It’s the fourth time in the eight-year history of the Women’s World Cup that the USWNT has won it all. The U.S. ladies also broke the record for most goals scored in a single Women’s World Cup with 26. Great accomplishments like this don’t typically include a missed opportunity.

The bad news is that this one does.

Megan Rapinoe had a tremendous World Cup for the U.S. women. She won the Golden Boot for scoring the most goals in the tournament and the Golden Ball as its top player. Several weeks before receiving those honors, Rapinoe told soccer magazine Eight by Eight, “I’m not going to the f—ing White House.” She later took her stance a step further in a press conference by saying, “I would encourage my teammates to think hard about lending that platform or having that co-opted by an administration that doesn’t feel the same way and doesn’t fight for the same things that we fight for.”

Rapinoe is a proud member of the LGBTQ community. She is a strong advocate and views President Donald Trump as the opposite of a supporter. Earlier in July, Rapinoe said to Yahoo! Sports that she is “a walking protest when it comes to the Trump administration” because of everything she stands for. Her goal is to use her platform for good and “for leaving the game in a better place and hopefully the world in a better place.”

I hope she accomplishes those goals. I really do. However, avoiding people you disagree with isn’t the formula for change. It doesn’t leave the world in a better place. There is a growing number of people that disassociate themselves from others that think differently. It doesn’t get those close-minded people to expand their minds. Sure, not going to the White House is making a statement, but it doesn’t help the cause. If the methods don’t help, how much good is it really doing?

Before I go any further, understand this — I can relate to Rapinoe a lot. I’m wired very similarly. If you come at me in a headbutting fashion with your approach, I’ll do everything in my power to headbutt you harder. Guess what? It typically doesn’t work. It’s counterproductive. I’ve learned this lesson over and over again the hard way; it’s not only what you argue, it’s how you argue.

Former New York Giants defensive end Michael Strahan made a comment years ago that always stuck with me. He said that one of the main reasons he never got the gap in his two front teeth fixed is because it helped to disarm people. I always found that interesting. The value in putting another person at ease shouldn’t be understated. It’s much easier to scream your message as if you’re driving it home with a sledgehammer. Being tactful is much harder. Tact is often the best way to get your point across though.

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I got into a fight once in high school. The principle made me call my mom and explain that I’d be suspended for a week. I’ll never forget what my mom said to me — “B, how could you?” She didn’t yell. She didn’t lash out while screaming, “I can’t believe you’d do that. How dumb can you be? You outta be ashamed.” My mom avoided the bad cop approach. Her words disarmed me. When I heard, “How could you?” I immediately felt awful and said, “I’m sorry!” The approach she used got through to me.

Your stance will be overlooked if the way you present it reeks. It’s vital to convey your point of view respectfully. People are so on edge these days. Don’t rev them up even more with disrespect. They’re practically one snarky comment away from spontaneous combustion. Many people can’t control their emotions and just vent instead of thinking about the best way to get their point across. Always remember that your words will be dismissed if your approach is bad.

This idea applies to sports radio as well. A host can’t go ballistic on a caller and expect that person to embrace his or her message. I was filling in on 940 WINZ in Miami when former Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill tore his ACL in training camp. Colin Kaepernick was a replacement candidate. A caller was on edge about the way Kaepernick was being talked about after protesting during the anthem. I didn’t lose my mind and just stated my opinion. We calmly exchanged differing points of view, we both were heard, and then we moved on with life. That’s the way it should be.

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The golden rule in any debate or argument is this — don’t lose sight of what you’re trying to accomplish. It is so incredibly easy to make that mistake. If a listener calls in and is disrespectful, you’ve failed to accomplish your goal if you say something mean right back. Your goal wasn’t to say something nasty. Your goal was to say something useful and to be heard. If your approach or response is disrespectful, you are basically putting ear plugs in the other person’s ears. They are no longer listening to you.

That’s what brings me back to Megan Rapinoe. It doesn’t make sense to think that avoiding President Trump and being outspoken against him would lead to positive change. If you invite someone over to your house for a party and they decline while saying how much they dislike you and the things you stand for, would that endear you to that person and their beliefs? I highly doubt it.

Sadly in the end that’s all this smack talk and White House sidestepping will amount to. It’s the same outcome as telling your boss off. It might feel good in the moment, but it does you no good going forward.

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What if the United States operated the same way with other countries that have much different philosophies? President Trump was in North freaking Korea last month to meet with leader Kim Jong-un in hopes to establish some common ground. That approach is much better than avoiding him, publicly stating how much of a dingbat he is, and calling him out for not fighting for the same things we fight for. That would be a horrible move politically. So how is Rapinoe’s approach beneficial? It isn’t.

Look, this isn’t about favoritism. It isn’t about picking between man or woman, liberal or conservative, white or black, gay or straight — it’s about being heard no matter who you are. It’s about getting your message across. Option 1 for Rapinoe is to disassociate herself from the president while bashing him. This is the choice she has made, which is a mistake in my opinion.

Option 2 is to put aside differing philosophies while visiting the White House in an effort to establish better understanding. Option 2 is to show the president through professionalism and charm that the things he might have swirling around in his head about the LGBTQ community are false. Option 2 is to put the ball in POTUS’ court by publicly requesting a one-on-one chat.

He can’t say no, right? That would make him look scared and small. Option 1 is a dead end. Option 2 at least has the potential for positive change to occur. Choosing a dead end over possible growth doesn’t make sense.

No matter who you are — Women’s World Cup hero, sports radio host, or anybody else walking and talking — it’s so important to disarm people while fighting for the things you want to occur. Getting others to see things from your point of view is directly tied to how you present it to them. To be fair, this is actually something that President Trump stinks at himself. He consistently lacks tact while stating his views. You aren’t any better if you return the favor with him or anyone else.

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Stay focused on what you want to accomplish. Be objective about the best way to get it done. Don’t let the one person that gets in the way of your important message be this guy: You.

BSM Writers

Being Wrong On-Air Isn’t A Bad Thing

…if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign.

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WRONG BAD

In the press conference after the Warriors won their fourth NBA title in eight years, Steph Curry referenced a very specific gesture from a very specific episode of Get Up that aired in August 2021.

“Clearly remember some experts and talking heads putting up the big zero,” Curry said, then holding up a hollowed fist to one eye, looking through it as if it were a telescope.

“How many championships we would have going forward because of everything we went through.”

Yep, Kendrick Perkins and Domonique Foxworth each predicted the Warriors wouldn’t win a single title over the course of the four-year extension Curry had just signed. The Warriors won the NBA title and guess what? Curry gets to gloat.

The funny part to me was the people who felt Perkins or Foxworth should be mad or embarrassed. Why? Because they were wrong?

That’s part of the game. If you’re a host or analyst who is never wrong in a prediction, it’s more likely that you’re excruciatingly boring than exceedingly smart. Being wrong is not necessarily fun, but it’s not a bad thing in this business.

You shouldn’t try to be wrong, but you shouldn’t be afraid of it, either. And if you are wrong, own it. Hold your L as I’ve heard the kids say. Don’t try to minimize it or explain it or try to point out how many other people are wrong, too. Do what Kendrick Perkins did on Get Up the day after the Warriors won the title.

“When they go on to win it, guess what?” He said, sitting next to Mike Greenberg. “You have to eat that.”

Do not do what Perkins did later that morning on First Take.

Perkins: “I come on here and it’s cool, right? Y’all can pull up Perk receipts and things to that nature. And then you give other people a pass like J-Will.”

Jason Williams: “I don’t get passes on this show.”

Perkins: “You had to, you had a receipt, too, because me and you both picked the Memphis Grizzlies to beat the Golden State Warriors, but I’m OK with that. I’m OK with that. Go ahead Stephen A. I know you’re about to have fun and do your thing. Go ahead.”

Stephen A. Smith: “First of all, I’m going to get serious for a second with the both of you, especially you, Perk, and I want to tell you something right now. Let me throw myself on Front Street, we can sit up there and make fun of me. You know how many damn Finals predictions I got wrong? I don’t give a damn. I mean, I got a whole bunch of them wrong. Ain’t no reason to come on the air and defend yourself. Perk, listen man. You were wrong. And we making fun, and Steph Curry making fun of you. You laugh at that my brother. He got you today. That’s all. He got you today.”

It’s absolutely great advice, and if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign. It means they’re not just listening, but holding on to what you say. You matter. Don’t ruin that by getting defensive and testy.

WORTH EVERY PENNY

I did a double-take when I saw Chris Russo’s list of the greatest QB-TE combinations ever on Wednesday and this was before I ever got to Tom Brady-to-Rob Gronkowski listed at No. 5. It was actually No. 4 that stopped me cold: Starr-Kramer.

My first thought: Jerry Kramer didn’t play tight end.

My second thought: I must be unaware of this really good tight end from the Lombardi-era Packers.

After further review, I don’t think that’s necessarily true, either. Ron Kramer did play for the Lombardi-era Packers, and he was a good player. He caught 14 scoring passes in a three-year stretch where he really mattered, but he failed to catch a single touchdown pass in six of the 10 NFL seasons he played. He was named first-team All-Pro once and finished his career with 229 receptions.

Now this is not the only reason that this is an absolutely terrible list. It is the most egregious, however. Bart Starr and Kramer are not among the 25 top QB-TE combinations in NFL history let alone the top five. And if you’re to believe Russo’s list, eighty percent of the top tandems played in the NFL in the 30-year window from 1958 to 1987 with only one tandem from the past 30 years meriting inclusion when this is the era in which tight end production has steadily climbed.

Then I found out that Russo is making $10,000 per appearance on “First Take.”

My first thought: You don’t have to pay that much to get a 60-something white guy to grossly exaggerate how great stuff used to be.

My second thought: That might be the best $10,000 ESPN has ever spent.

Once a week, Russo comes on and draws a reaction out of a younger demographic by playing a good-natured version of Dana Carvey’s Grumpy Old Man. Russo groans to JJ Redick about the lack of fundamental basketball skills in today’s game or he proclaims the majesty of a tight end-quarterback pairing that was among the top five in its decade, but doesn’t sniff the top five of all-time.

And guess what? It works. Redick rolls his eyes, asks Russo which game he’s watching, and on Wednesday he got me to spend a good 25 minutes looking up statistics for some Packers tight end I’d never heard of. Not satisfied with that, I then moved on to determine Russo’s biggest omission from the list, which I’ve concluded is Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates, who connected for 89 touchdowns over 15 seasons, which is only 73 more touchdowns than Kramer scored in his career. John Elway and Shannon Sharpe should be on there, too.

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BSM Writers

Money Isn’t The Key Reason Why Sellers Sell Sports Radio

I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions.

Jeff Caves

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Radio Sales

A radio salesperson’s value being purely tied to money is overrated to me. Our managers all believe that our main motivation for selling radio is to make more money. They see no problem in asking us to sell more in various ways because it increases our paycheck. We are offered more money to sell digital, NTR, to sell another station in the cluster, weekend remotes, new direct business, or via the phone in 8 hours. 

But is that why you sell sports radio?

In 2022, the Top 10 highest paying sales jobs are all in technology. Not a media company among them. You could argue that if it were all about making money, we should quit and work in tech. Famous bank robber Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed twenty banks over twenty years. He reportedly said,” that’s where the money is”. Sutton is the classic example of a person who wanted what money could provide and was willing to do whatever it took to get it, BUT he also admitted he liked robbing banks and felt alive. So, Sutton didn’t do it just for the money.

A salesperson’s relationship with money and prestige is also at the center of the play Death of a Salesman. Willy Loman is an aging and failing salesman who decides he is worth more dead than alive and kills himself in an auto accident giving his family the death benefit from his life insurance policy. Loman wasn’t working for the money. He wanted the prestige of what money could buy for himself and his family. 

Recently, I met a woman who spent twelve years selling radio from 1999-2011. I asked her why she left her senior sales job. She said she didn’t like the changes in the industry. Consolidation was at its peak, and most salespeople were asked to do more with less help. She described her radio sales job as one with “golden handcuffs”. The station paid her too much money to quit even though she hated the job. She finally quit. The job wasn’t worth the money to her.

I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions. I never wanted to sell anything else and specifically enjoyed selling programming centered around reaching fans of Boise State University football. That’s it. Very similar to what Mark Glynn and his KJR staff experience when selling Kraken hockey and Huskies football.  

I never thought selling sports radio was the best way to make money. I just enjoyed the way I could make money. I focused on the process and what I enjoyed about the position—the freedom to come and go and set my schedule for the most part. I concentrated on annual contracts and clients who wanted to run radio commercials over the air to get more traffic and build their brand.

Most of my clients were local direct and listened to the station. Some other sales initiatives had steep learning curves, were one-day events or contracted out shaky support staff. In other words, the money didn’t motivate me enough. How I spent my time was more important. 

So, if you are in management, maybe consider why your sales staff is working at the station. Because to me, they’d be robbing banks if it were all about making lots of money.  

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BSM Writers

Media Noise: BSM Podcast Network Round Table

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Demetri Ravanos welcomes the two newest members of the BSM Podcast Network to the show. Brady Farkas and Stephen Strom join for a roundtable discussion that includes the new media, Sage Steele and Roger Goodell telling Congress that Dave Portnoy isn’t banned from NFL events.

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