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Somewhere Between Interesting & Offensive

“If you’re too harsh these days, you’re an insensitive, racist, tone-deaf moron. If you’re too careful, you’re a neutered, cookie-cutter, yawn inducing bore that’ll also be out of a job.”

Brian Noe

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Every now and then my mom will send me a text with a shoe emoji. It represents the need for me to stay light on my feet while hosting sports radio shows these days.

👟 Running Shoe Emoji

We say that there are landmines all around because — well — there are. Some topics are emotionally, socially, and racially charged. They need to be approached with a great degree of tact and understanding. Cancel culture is on the prowl like Stallone in Rambo or a cheetah chasing down a wildebeest. Say the wrong thing at the wrong time and kablooey, you accidentally triggered a landmine. And it might not be one of your limbs that goes flying in the air, it could be your contract instead.

This isn’t a column about being safe and careful and cautious and timid. This column is about finding the middle ground between being too safe and being too aggressive. As a host, you don’t want to resemble a poker player that is always playing tight in fear of losing a hand. You also don’t want to be taking wild risks while playing too aggressively. It’s about well-timed aggression and pushing the boundaries without actually violating them. It’s about tiptoeing on the line without crossing it.

Someone who recently stepped waaaaaaaay over the line is Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson. The 12-year NFL veteran shared a fake Hilter quote on his Instagram story. It partially read that white Jews “will blackmail America. [They] will extort America, their plan for world domination won’t work if the Negroes know who they were.”

Insert former Green Bay Packers head coach Vince Lombardi yelling, “What the hell’s goin’ on out here?” It was beyond idiotic for Jackson to post conspiracy theories from the 1930s that have absolutely nothing to do with today.

Jackson has agreed to visit Auschwitz with Edward Mosberg, a 94-year-old survivor of a Nazi concentration camp. Good move, DeSean. This is a noteworthy improvement from Jackson’s initial apology (attempt) when he said, “I definitely didn’t mean it to the extent that you guys took it.”

DeSean Jackson tenders apology for anti-Semitic remarks, "It is a ...

That isn’t an apology. It would be like me asking my beautiful sister, “Yikes, what have you been eating to pack on the pounds?” Then after getting hit with projectile tears and hurled frying pans, saying, “Oh, I definitely didn’t mean it to the extent that you took it.” She might throw the washing machine at me at that point.

It’s smart for Jackson to educate himself while doing some PR damage control. Going to a Holocaust museum with Julian Edelman would be another wise move. The offer from the New England Patriots receiver to also visit an African American museum followed by talking, eating hamburgers — I suggest 10 of them to allow more time for talk — is an olive branch worth accepting. It’s great that Jackson is making an effort. That’s the least he can do after going way too far with his initial post.

Well, what is the line? What is going too far?

Going too far is when a high number of people can reasonably find your comments to be offensive. Avoid that and you should be fine. Hey, I get it; knowing where the line is in sports radio is more difficult than ever. Tensions are high and the growing number of people that are offended by the mundane seems to be rising each day. The trick is to have an understanding of the evolving line without stepping over it. Don’t say something reckless or offensive that causes your boss to look at you like an umpire staring at a misbehaving baseball manager as if to say, “Dude, I have to run you for that.”

If you’re too harsh these days, you’re an insensitive, racist, tone-deaf moron. If you’re too careful, you’re a neutered, cookie-cutter, yawn inducing bore that’ll also be out of a job. (I’m so full of good news today, aren’t I?) It sounds like way more of a daunting task than it actually is. Consider this:

With the MLB season scheduled to begin with a doubleheader on Thursday, July 23 — God and pandemic willing — ESPN showed a montage on SportsCenter this week that included Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Cody Bellinger. The reigning NL MVP had spoken in February about the apologies offered up by the Houston Astros organization after they stole signs and banged on trash cans en route to a World Series crown. Bellinger offered up this scorcher:

“I thought the apologies were whatever. I thought [Astros owner] Jim Crane’s was weak. I thought [Rob] Manfred’s punishment was weak, giving [the players] immunity. Those guys were cheating for three years. I think what people don’t realize is [José] Altuve stole an MVP from [Aaron] Judge in ‘17. Everyone knows they stole the ring from us.”

Bellinger made those comments on Valentine’s Day. That was five months ago! Sometimes it’s hard for people to remember what was said five minutes ago. It takes a strong stance to resonate five months after the fact.

Ask yourself this: was Bellinger’s opinion offensive? No. Was it interesting? Hell yes!

There is a big difference between comments that are unwanted and comments that are offensive. It’s obvious that Bellinger’s fiery stance didn’t appeal to the Astros faithful, but it didn’t rise to the level of being offensive. Simply put, Bellinger wouldn’t be out of a gig if he made the same comments as a sports radio host. It’s more likely he’d get a better shift with added perks.

This is exactly what I’m talking about. Bellinger pushed the envelope, but he didn’t cross the line. Comments that have some bite are interesting. There is an element of danger mixed in. So, what we’re looking at here is that comments with too much bite become landmine city. A comment with too little bite is like eating at the kids’ table during Thanksgiving dinner.

Charles Barkley finds the middle ground. He offers strong opinions with bite without stepping over the line. Many other broadcasters do the same thing. See, it can be done!

Charles Barkley: NBA's Social Justice Campaign Is 'Missing the Point'

It’s essential to produce compelling content while showing good judgment. Find ways to cut through during these emotionally charged times without being a lightning rod. Think to yourself after a show, “Was I interesting? Was I respectful?” You can’t be one without the other. If you don’t say yes to both questions daily, then you aren’t doing your job. Find the middle ground and check both of these vital boxes.

Barrett Blogs

BSM’s Black Friday SALE on BSM Summit Tickets is Underway!

Jason Barrett

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Each year I’m asked if there are ways to save money on tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit. I always answer yes but not everyone takes advantage of it. For those interested in doing so, here’s your shot.

For TODAY ONLY, individual tickets to the 2023 BSM Summit are reduced by $50.00. Two ticket and four ticket packages are also lowered at $50 per ticket. To secure your seat at a discounted price, just log on to BSMSummit.com. This sale ends tonight at 11:59pm ET.

If you’re flying to Los Angeles for the event, be sure to reserve your hotel room. Our hotel partner this year is the USC Hotel. It’s walking distance of our venue. Full details on hotel rooms can also be found via the conference website.

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BSM Writers

Media Noise: What Does The Return of Bob Iger Mean to ESPN?

Demetri Ravanos

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Demetri Ravanos has questions about Disney going back to the future with Bob Iger. This entire episode of Media Noise is all about what the change at the top of the Walt Disney Company indicates about the future of ESPN.

ITunes: https://buff.ly/3PjJWpO

Spotify: https://buff.ly/3AVwa90

iHeart: https://buff.ly/3cbINCp

Google: https://buff.ly/3PbgHWx

Amazon: https://buff.ly/3cbIOpX

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BSM Writers

Media Noise: What Is Realistic For FOX at the World Cup?

Demetri Ravanos

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On this special holiday edition of Media Noise, Demetri Ravanos dives into the controversy and criticism surrounding FOX’s coverage of the World Cup in Qatar.

ITunes: https://buff.ly/3PjJWpO

Spotify: https://buff.ly/3AVwa90

iHeart: https://buff.ly/3cbINCp

Google: https://buff.ly/3PbgHWx

Amazon: https://buff.ly/3cbIOpX

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