The substantial development of online social networks as a solidifying infrastructure for the movement of information online has reinforced on the web the tenets of the attention economy and turned the internet, as concerns the sharing of content, into the interactive, digital version of a supermarket checkout aisle magazine display or afternoons on cable news networks. Whether you’re hawking cat videos or the latest from Miley Cyrus, the internet is in a serious tabloid phase, and the clickbait semantics of TMZ, Gawker, and Buzzfeed pervades. In the unending drive to control attention, the currency of our present time, everything must be labeled “awesome,” “EPIC,” “incredible,” “the best X you’ll see today,” “spectacular,” “fabulous,” and so forth, even if it’s barely out of the ordinary. It’s increasingly difficult to describe anything in measured terms, and we’re losing perspective on the degree to which anything truly is extraordinary.
The latest example of this phenomenon comes in the treatment of comments in a postgame press conference by Southern Illinois University head men’s basketball coach Barry Hinson, who expressed open frustration with his young team after a loss. It wasn’t the handful of mumbled sports cliches we’ve come to expect in such settings, but neither was it, upon my eventual listen, an extreme outburst deserving of the extreme attention it received. “Epic Rant!”, numerous outlets exclaimed. “Amazing tirade.” “Must-see video.” “Epic postgame rant for the ages,” they said.
Please. I’ve heard Denny Green. I’ve heard Jim Mora. I’ve heard Mike Gundy. I’ve heard Mary Carillo. Barry Hinson doesn’t hold a candle to those artists.
If you wanted a true rant this week, you just needed to wait until Wednesday afternoon. Colin Cowherd came on the Paul Finebaum Show and said that he thought that Gus Malzahn has Auburn situated to give Nick Saban and Alabama stiff competition in the coming years, and Cowherd predicted that the Tigers would beat Alabama again next year on their way to back-to-back national titles. Some of Finebaum’s Alabama listeners did not appreciate Cowherd’s opinions, and they called in to say so. As I heard the call of one such fan, Phyllis, unfold while listening to the Cowherd segment this morning, I had the slow-dawning realization that I was experiencing true radio magic. Listen for yourself:
(The full segment is available here.)
I should add, I’ve read Jimmy Martinez: http://kissingsuzykolber.uproxx.com/2013/12/anatomy-best-internet-comment-time-pft-commenter.html.
ESPN Radio is using Phyllis’ call, featured above, integrated with relevant clips from the Cowherd interview to which she was responding, in a promotional bit they’re airing tonight (and probably other times) during their bowl game broadcast. The only twist: It’s presented as a promotion for Cowherd’s show, not Finebaum’s.
I don’t know why they chose to do that– Finebaum’s a leading college football voice, while Cowherd’s always struck me as someone more interested in professional athletes and amateur demography– but it didn’t surprise me when I heard it. Finebaum’s role at ESPN still isn’t clearly defined, although I expect it will be more clearly presented once the SEC Network arm of ESPN comes on the air in August 2014, at which time Finebaum’s show should be simulcast on television a la Mike & Mike and SVP & Rusillo.
Finebaum is equal parts field general and diplomat, but privately, this sort of thing has to irritate him.
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