Jeff Pearlman

  • Twitter Icon
  • Twitter Icon
  • Twitter Icon

You’re an ungrateful twerp

confused_white_media_1

When you write stuff like my last two posts, you inevitably get the, “Oh, poor you. Wah! Wah! Wah!” response. Which, to a certain degree, is understandable. While other people are doing taxes or drilling teeth or serving hamburgers, I’m at a professional sporting event, seemingly having fun and living the life. Understood.

That said, it’s an extremely flawed viewpoint. Because perception is usually taken as reality, everybody has this vision of what “The Life” is. For some, it’s Jay-Z, rapping before 40,000 people. For others, it’s Jay Cutler, starting for the Bears. Or maybe it’s even (good God) me, writing books for a living, kicking back in a Starbucks with a laptop and a latte. I get it. Really, I do. But it’s not real. “The Life” is never “The Life.” There is no perfection. I know people who have, literally, hundreds upon hundreds of millions of dollars, and they’re the most miserable wretches you’ll ever meet. I’ve seen athletes suffer from great depression. Hell, there’s a reason so many of our celebrities smoke and drink and do drugs and get married on a whim. In short, they’re bored. Or they’re disappointed by the truth behind The Life.

So if Shakira says her life sucks and she has a headache and she’s in a bad mood, well, that’s completely reasonable. And if I hate being stuck in the Chicago Bears’ locker room while my kids are home playing with my wife, well, that’s reasonable, too. One man’s paradise is another man’s hell.

And one more thing: Sports locker rooms suck. They truly, truly, truly, truly suck. First off, they smell worse than you can imagine. Second, 99 percent of the athletes don’t want to talk to you and, even if they did want to talk to you, have nothing interesting to say. And, lastly, the whole thing is bulls•••, and anyone who has done this long enough knows exactly what I’m talking about. It’s the dumbest ritual I’ve ever seen, and it goes exactly—exactly—like this:

(We’ll use a losing locker room as an example here)

Step One: The media members charge into the locker room. Half-naked players pretend they’re very upset after a loss, so they speak in hushed tones, don’t make much eye contact, etc. When a needed player looks up, all the media folk charge over. This generally included anywhere from three to seven cameramen (with their perfectly coiffed reporters), a couple of web geeks, three or four radio guys, the, oh, four beat writers, four more columnists and a couple of out-of-town writers. The TV guys usually go first, followed by radio, and their questions always—always—suck. Sometimes, they’re not even questions.

• “Tough game out there. Talk about the fourth quarter …”

• “That throw in the first quarter looked like a miscue between you and Bobby …”

• “Was this a statement game?”

After approximately 10 minutes of that mind-numbing inanity, the TV and radio boobs seek out, as a group, the next brain-dead player to accost with stupid questions they hear week after week. The print guys stick around, hoping to get so-and-so player to open up a bit now that it’s just them, a pad, a pen and a small little recorder. Back in the 1990s, this worked. Now, thanks to media training and warnings not to trust the press, it rarely does.

Step Two: After 20 minutes of nonsense, a team media representative hollars, “Time to wrap it up guys!” At this point, we scramble to any lingering players, hoping to snag one last goodie. A tight end might tell you he thinks things will turn around next week. A quarterback will suggest the offense can only improve. A linebacker farts in your direction, then laughs.

Step Three: I leap from a bridge.

  • Classicist

    A sportswriter who hates sports and sportswriting. I feel like there’s a Dave Eggers / Spike Jonze movie here somewhere.

  • This needs to be forwarded to sports bloggers who are desperate to get credentialed. People really need to think hard about exactly why they want press-style access, because the last thing the world needs is another set of lame post-game quotes.

  • Joe

    Jeff, you can have tough times and still be a an ungrateful twerp. Millions of people are unemployed and have real concerns. In the scheme of things, you have a cake job in an entertainment industry, and no one’s gonna feel sympathy for that.

    Incidentally, do you still write about sports?

  • Pingback: What I’m trying to do with my life and why «()

  • lunchboy

    Jeff, for what it is worth, I will try to make my comments better moving forward. I’ll see what worked and continue with those plans and for what’s not working, well, I ‘ll go back to the drawing board and see how I can fix it. It’s a long season, afterall.

  • Jim

    Why did Jeff picture those particular eight guys? Are they the anuses of the sports media world?

    Peter King and Clayton come across as decent-enough people, although you never know. The rest all are transparently self-important boors. Especially Lupica. I mean, if you can’t even pose for a publicity photo without looking like an arrogant douche…

  • Nik Jones

    I really liked this post. It’s not as cool as it seems, and I’m glad someone had the guts to say so.

  • Maybe because I’m not a teenager any more, but I’m not sure why anyone would want to switch positions with Jeff Pearlman (nothing personal) or any other beat writer.

    + Traveling around all the time (it’s not as glamorous as it sounds, try spending a Tuesday night in November in Dallas).

    + Eating crap food.

    + Writing about people who hate you for an audience that doesn’t trust you.

    + Being away from your kids.

    + Insane deadlines and living with the fear that someone you share a joke with one minute is going to scoop you the next.

    + Working in an industry that most people view as entertainment, what do you do to unwind? Watch a ball game? Nah.

    + Working in an industry with pricks like Mike Lupica or starng at Mitch Albom’s bizarre ears all game?

    + Losing any love that you had for sports. And to top it off, finding out that most athletes, owners, etc are really assholes.

    I don’t know why anyone would want to be a professional sports writer. No thanks.

  • DSFC

    Jeff Pearlman’s blog – come for the childish self-pity, stay for the leftist cheerleading!

    There are a lot of people who don’t get to see their kids nearly as much as they like. Not all of them are best-selling authors who make a very comfortable living in a safe, sedentary job. Some people, in fact, break their asses doing dangerous work for long hours, and travel because it’s the only way they can find enough business to support themselves. And right now there are plenty of people who have all the time in the world to see their kids, to watch them and wonder how in the world they’re going to pay their bills now that they’ve been laid off. But hey, at least they don’t have to endure the banality of a press box – such horrors are known to drive a man to suicide!

    In this post, Jeff claims he gets why people have a problem with his whining…..then proceeds to write more self-pitying nonsense. So, in other words, “My life’s not that bad. Understood. But, still, do you people know the stench of a locker room??? And plus, blahblahblah my life sucks blahblahblah”

    It’s the lament of an immature child who hasn’t yet learned that rarely in life do we get what we think we deserve, and that sometimes we have to be adults, grit our teeth, and slog through the unpleasant nature of our work in order to meet our obligations and responsibilities. Life isn’t going to be nonstop bliss and joy, Jeff. It’s up to you to find a way to appreciate what you have instead of crying about what you lack…..which is your case is considerably less than what the average American lacks. Grow up, buttercup.

Showtime Book
Love Me, Hate Me Barry Bonds Book
Sweetness Walter Peyton Book
The Bad Guys Won Book
The Rocket that Fell to Earth Book
Boys Will Be Boys Book

Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

— Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life