Kate McGee wrote an eye-opening piece for the Texas Tribune last week that details the lengths the administration at the University of Texas will go to in order to keep boosters happy, even if it causes pain for their students. McGee published multiple emails filled with less-than-coded language . In those emails, the old, rich alumni base makes it clear that they do not care what students have to say about the history of the school song “The Eyes of Texas”. They want it played and they want the students that refuse to participate in a postgame singalong kicked out of school.
For those unfamiliar, here is a very quick, very broad-strokes history of “The Eyes of Texas”. Really, there are just two things you need to know.
- The phrase “The eyes of Texas are upon you,” (the song’s opening lyric) is derived from something Robert E. Lee would say to Confederate troops in the Civil War. The implication was that the soldiers did not want to live with the embarrassment of their defeat being what lead to the end of slavery.
- The song made its debut in 1903 at the Varsity Minstral Show, when a group of white students in blackface sang it to raise money for the Texas track team.
As a result of the alumni backlash, the administration told the football players that they had no choice. They didn’t have to sing, but they did have to be on the field while “The Eyes of Texas” plays.
There is only one logical conclusion you can come away with. The University of Texas cares more about people it doesn’t really need (more on that in a moment) than it does its own students. I guess a logical follow-up conclusion would be that the boosters, people that claim to be so devoted to Texas football that they give hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars to the program regularly, don’t really care if the team is ever any good.
I have heard a lot of smart people talk about this on ESPN and FOX Sports Radio and various college football blogs I read regularly. They all say that this is a problem for Texas. They all say that there are deeper issues at play that the school needs to address than just this song. But no one will be blunt.
Just say it. Texas doesn’t care about football. We do not have to entertain the “is Texas back?” conversation ever again, because Texas has demonstrated that being “back” doesn’t matter to them.
You have heard the saying “there are two sides to every issue,” right? Well, let’s call that what it is: total bullshit.
The sports media has no problem saying that a call is bad or a coach made an awful decision that cost his team a game. For some reason though, we can be so scared to use the phrase “bullshit” when it comes to a bigger, off-field issue and I am not sure why, especially in this case where Texas isn’t even trying to pretend their argument is anything less than pure, uncut poop from the cow they so love.
Obviously, if you are on the radio or working with restrictions sponsored by major corporations, you have to be more creative. Using the actual word “bullshit” will get you fired. As a lifelong Southerner, might I recommend “hog wash” or “horse feathers”? The barnyard provides so many wonderful ways of calling something a wild falsehood.
Is it important to be fair to both sides of a debate? I guess, when one side of the debate can’t be boiled down to “I want people to suffer” or doesn’t come from a place of total bad faith. That isn’t the case in Austin.
Maybe it isn’t so important to be fair though. Dan Dakich has a radio show and is calling games on ESPN every week. Jay Bilas is calling games and showing up on various ESPN studio shows every week. Do you see either of them being particularly fair to the opposite point of view when they discuss whether or not college athletes should be paid? I don’t. Both Sarah Spain and Clay Travis are on the radio five days a week. Do you see either of them being particularly fair to the opposite side of literally any opinion they have? I don’t.
Texas doesn’t need money from boosters that demand America stay stuck in 1903. The school’s media rights deal alone is valuable enough to make its athletic department one of the ten richest in the country without any booster money. The University of Texas takes the money and gives control and influence to old racists simply because it wants to. Certainly the results on the field throughout the majority of the school’s football history don’t indicate that system is working.
From 1915 until 1996, Texas played in the Southwestern Conference. Their peers and opponents included TCU, Baylor, Houston, Rice, and SMU amongst others. It is easy to look at that landscape and wonder how, even with Arkansas in their heyday and Texas A&M in the conference, Texas didn’t win the football championship every single year.
It’s because this racist booster culture has existed in Austin for a long, long time. Imagine the kind of culture problem you have created when an 18 year old Black kid looks at Waco of all places and decides that is a more welcoming environment!
Texas football is good at one thing – selling the myth of Texas football. As an industry, we have totally fallen for it. The team hasn’t been truly relevant since 2009 and yet every year, there is a large portion of the college football media that writes that this is the year! They are listed alongside archival Oklahoma, Alabama, Notre Dame, USC, and Ohio State as the sport’s blue bloods despite Texas having fewer national championships to its name than Illinois, Pitt, and Minnesota.
The myth ends the second we stop buying the bullshit! It’s no different than the idea that the Dallas Cowboys are “America’s Team” or that The Masters is something every sports fan needs to experience. There is no evidence that makes either of those facts definitively true in 2021, but as long as First Take keeps leading shows by talking about how a 2-6 Cowboys team can get to the Super Bowl and CBS keeps force-feeding us human Vinyard Vines belt Jim Nantz, those narratives will live on.
At the press conference introducing Steve Sarkisian as Texas’s new football coach (I know, LOL!), he was asked about the controversy surrounding “The Eyes of Texas”. He answered that the team would “sing that proudly”. Remember, this is a guy that in addition to coaching kids, also has to go out and convince the most talented football players in America, most of whom are Black, that they want to spend the next 3-5 years in Austin. Don’t think he doesn’t know that the song is a problem.
Call Texas football what it is – a farce. There is no wider berth between branding and reality in the entire sports landscape. The people that claim to be the program’s biggest fans are actively holding it back. They are choosing a song, which by the way is set to the tune of “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad,” over actually being good. That is asinine. There are not two sides to this. Pretending there are is nothing short of utter nonsense!
When the sports world tries to sell us nonsense, we cannot be afraid to push back in the harshest way possible. Doing anything less makes your audience dumber.
Sam Mayes Got A Raw Deal But Tyler Media Made The Right Call
“You are being naive if you think a company should stand behind an employee that has put themselves in this situation.”
I do not envy whoever at Tyler Media had to make a decision about Sam Mayes’s future with the company after audio of a private conversation in 2016 was leaked to the media. Mayes and now-former co-worker Cara Rice made a few racist jokes at the expense of Native Americans.
The recording, according to Mayes, was made without his knowledge and leaked illegally. He says in a recorded statement that he should have been given the opportunity to address the recording on air and make amends.
Maybe that is true, maybe it isn’t. I hate for Sam to lose his job as the result of an illegal recording of a private conversation, but the fact is, that conversation isn’t private anymore. Tyler Media didn’t really have an option here. Sam Mayes had to go.
Someone had an illegal recording of the conversation and created an anonymous email account to send it to people in the Oklahoma City media. I was shown a copy of the email. The author states clearly that their goal is to see Mayes and Rice out of a job. There is nothing fair or just about that person getting exactly what they want. It feels slimy. I can’t say that it feels like it wasn’t the right call though.
We have debated whether or not someone should lose their job over comments made in a private conversation many times before. It happens in every field. It wasn’t long ago at all that we were having this same debate about Jon Gruden. His emails to Bruce Allen and others were sent in private. Is it fair he had to go when they were made public? No matter what horrible things were in there, they were said with the understanding that it would stay between friends.
I am going to say the same thing about Sam Mayes that I did about Gruden when that story first broke. You are being naive if you think a company should stand behind an employee that has put themselves in this situation.
You read that right. The circumstances of how the conversations in these examples came to light are absolutely unfair, but the conversations came to light. How it happened is irrelevant. Any sponsor or boss that stands behind Sam Mayes or Jon Gruden would be endorsing the language they used, either inadvertently or very much on purpose. Try explaining that to a sponsor.
People at Tyler Media may know Sam Mayes’s heart. He doesn’t seem like a bad guy. The fact of the matter is, once the audio became public, their hands were tied. There is no mistaking what was said or who said it.
How can any seller or manager take Mayes to advertisers now? How can they put him in front of the Lucky Star Casino, one of the station’s biggest advertisers? They can ask for an audience to let Sam explain himself and try to make amends. The Cheyenne and Arapahoe Tribes, who own the casino, are under no obligation to forgive or even listen.
Maybe the day will come where Sam Mayes bounces back. I hope it does. I hope he gets the chance to address his comments with members of Oklahoma’s Native American community and listen to what they have to say in response. I do think it sucks that this is how his time at The Franchise comes to an end, but I get it.
If I have to explain to you why not to say dumb, racist shit, then I don’t think we have much to talk about. But, it is worth noting that the recording of Mayes and Rice’s conversation is proof that privacy is always an assumption, not always a fact.
In his audio statement, Mayes admits it is his voice on the recording. He also says that he was uncomfortable with Rice’s comments and he tried to end their conversation. I’ll take him at his word, but I will also point out that before he tried to end the conversation, he joined in on the jokes. Maybe when someone says that Native Americans are “too drunk to organize” it isn’t a great idea to respond. All it leads to is proof of you saying something dumb and racist.
Again, I’ll reiterate that how these comments came to light is unfair, but they did come to light. That is Sam Mayes’s voice on the recording. He is joining in on the jokes about Native Americans being drunks and addicts. At the end of the day, the only thing that was done to him was the audio being released. He fully and willingly committed the firable offense.
What is the response to a client or potential client when they bring that up? All Tyler Media can do is try to recover and move forward. The company cannot do that with Mayes on the payroll.
Stop Prospecting, Start Strategizing!
“You cannot put a price tag on authenticity. It’s very rare and hard to find these days.”
Struggling to get new business appointments? Dreading making prospecting calls? Having trouble writing creative emails that seemingly never get a response?
Generating responses to new business outreach is easier than you think. Just make sure you do your homework first and keep it “Simple Stupid”.
To do that, start with asking yourself these (3) simple questions:
#1: Did I do my home work on the business itself, their competition and those I plan on reaching out to?
#2: If I were on the other end of the phone and/or email with myself would I want to engage in conversation and/or reply to that email?
#3: Am I prepared to make a one call close given the opportunity to?
If the answer to any of these is “No”… do NOT pick up the phone and by all means do NOT hit the send button on that initial outreach email! Doing so will all but ensure you fall flat on your face. On the off chance you do happen to get the decision maker on the phone you won’t make that great first impression that sometimes can be so crucial. First impressions are always important… ALWAYS!
Skipping over these critical steps is a sure-fire way to ensure your email is completely ignored and will not generate the engagement from the prospect you’d hope for. Successful prospecting is all about the front end digging and research. Do your homework first then strategize a plan of attack for your call and/or email. Taking these extra measures on the front end is absolutely “Mission Critical” and will set you up for much more success with your prospecting endeavors.
Now once you’ve answered “Yes” to all of the above, you’re ready to attack with the knowledge and confidence that should set you a part from your competition. It’s all about the Game Plan, and if you don’t have one, you’re destined for failure time and time again. Incorporate these (5) things into your prospecting Game Plan for your next call/email and watch your results dramatically improve:
#1: MAKE IT PERSONAL & CASUAL – Be informal, find out something interesting about them.
#2: MAKE IT SHORT & CONCISE – Be straight forward and to the point, people are busy.
#3: MAKE IT TIMELY & RELEVANT TO THEM AND/OR THEIR BUSINESS – Give them a good Valid Business Reason.
#4: MAKE IT INTERESTING, COMPELLING & INFORMATIVE – Be the expert they’re missing.
#5: MAKE IT FUN – Fun people are easy to do business with and make it less like “work”.
Lastly, and most importantly, Be Yourself! You cannot put a price tag on authenticity. It’s very rare and hard to find these days. When clients do find it trust me, they value it and appreciate it way more than you’ll ever know!
Good Producers Can Teach The World A Lot About Christmas
“A lot has to be accomplished in the lead-up to Christmas. So much of it happens in the background without much recognition.”
Who is Carl Christmas in your house? Who is the one that makes sure everyone that needs to get a card does? Who comes up with the plan for the lights? Who takes the reins on the shopping?
Every home needs one and in my house, that’s me. December (including the last week of November) is my time to shine, baby!
One thing I have tried to impress upon my mom and wife this year is that shipping and supply chain delays are real. So, if you are planning on procrastinating on your online shopping this year (you know, like usual) someone (me) is going to have no presents under the tree.
Veteran producers are used to operate this way. Young producers, listen up. Your job involves the most delicate balance of any in sports radio. You have to help bring your host’s and PD’s visions to life. That means you have to be able to take their direction. But you also have to keep the host on target. That means you cannot be afraid to be forceful and lead when the moment demands it.
There’s no value to being an unrepentant asshole to people, but you do have to hold them accountable. Look at that Christmas shopping example again. If you want to get what you want, you need to keep on task the people you know aren’t paying attention to the potential roadblocks. It isn’t selfish. It is making sure everyone gets the holiday W they are expecting. Sure, you would be disappointed if your gift doesn’t arrive on time, but so will the gift giver.
Being a stickler for the clock or moving a host off of a topic that has no value is the same thing. Of course there is something in it for you, but you are also helping the host do his or her job better. They may get annoyed with you now, but if you save them from an ass-chewing from the bosses or slipping ratings, then they have reaped the benefits.
I guess the unfortunate difference here is that there may be no acknowledgment of what you did or helped them to avoid. Oh well. Every producer has to expect a certain level of thanklessness.
Producers have to take on that Carl Christmas role in dealing with sales too. Remember, just because the producer’s name isn’t on the show doesn’t mean that isn’t every bit his or her show that it is the hosts’.
It’s like decorating your house for the holidays. You may have a certain design in mind. Maybe you have a traditional look you stick to every year. If your spouse or your kid comes home with a giant, inflatable Santa Claus in a military helicopter that they want on the lawn, you have a decision to make. Are you going to say no and suggest an alternative that aligns more with your goal or are you going to let your plan get run over?
Sales has a job to do. It is to make sure their clients’ messages are heard and to make money for the station. Both can be accomplished without sacrificing your show’s quality.
If a seller comes to you and says he wants his client to come in for five minutes and talk about now being the time to book an appointment to have your garage floors redone, you have to speak up. You have an obligation to make sure that the seller knows that even five minutes of that will hurt the show and have listeners diving for the preset buttons on their car stereo. That isn’t good for the station or his client.
Instead, offer to work with the seller and the client to come up with a piece of content that the client can put his name on and a 20-second ad read behind. Will the audience stick around to listen to some dude named Jerry talk about garage floors or will more people listen to you talk about the NFL playoff picture in a creative way and then still be there to hear Jerry’s message about garage floors? The answer seems obvious.
A lot has to be accomplished in the lead-up to Christmas. So much of it happens in the background without much recognition. If the background work wasn’t done though, the problems would be right out on the front lawn for everyone to see.
“Gatekeeper” is a term I really hate. It implies that someone is telling others what they are and are not allowed to enjoy. It is a necessary term though to properly describe what it is that a great producer and a great Carl Christmas do.
We don’t shut people out from being able to enjoy or be a part of what it is we are creating. We set or are handed down expectations and we block anything that can get in the way of achieving them. Sometimes, that is more thankless work than it should be. It is necessary though.
As my home’s self-appointed Carl Christmas and a former producer, let me give my countrymen the thanks others forget. We are the ones that make it possible for everyone else to be mindless. Wear it as a badge of honor. We may not get the kind of recognition we deserve everyday, but when plans go off without a hitch, we are usually the first to be recognized for making it happen.
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