Tag Archives: Jason Whitlock

Jason Whitlock is Correct, Society is More than a Twitter Bot and We all Need to do Better

Jason Whitlock had some harsh words for everyone when he pointed out that Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are not the real world.

These social media platforms are places that people can go to when they want to voice their outrage against everyone who doesn’t think and act as they do. Whitlock was not only speaking about the Colin Kaepernick protest that has gripped the country, but also about how we live our lives in the 21st century.

Freedom of speech is something that everyone claims to support, but all too often the only freedom of speech that is truly supported is when it’s spouted by someone who is on the proverbial “right side of history.” It doesn’t matter if I support why Kaepernick is protesting. What matters is that I support his right to peacefully protest as he chooses. This isn’t the world that we live in today.

If you log on to social media, you’ll see nothing but bitter, angry rhetoric when it comes to the perceived injustice at the hands of police departments across the country. When someone attempts to offer a calm and reasoned response to someone who supports the protests, they are shouted down and told that they are racist. This is what Whitlock was talking about. And, as I’m sure Whitlock expected, he too was shouted down and accused of having a bigoted opinion.

Whitlock was correct when he said that the world of social media isn’t the real world. It doesn’t matter if the rhetoric is considered to be right or left, conservative or progressive, republican or democrat. When these viewpoints are being shouted out on social media, they are not indicative of the real world. In the real world, all sides of a topic are more likely to be heard. On social media, the mob rules the conversation and freedom of speech is suppressed. Simply put, social media is a platform with carefully crafted rhetoric that is geared towards creating an exaggerated response.

Please, I beg all of us to stop living our lives based on memes and 140 character statements. It’s not real. Like Whitlock said, we should be living our lives based on real life interactions.

This is a topic that I have thought long and hard about. I realized a long time ago that social media is not reflective of the real world. I’d go a step further and say that the violent protests are not reflective of the real world because the participants in the violent protests do not make up the majority of the dissenters. These violent protest participants are the equivalent of a Twitter bot coming to life. And they are potentially well-paid Twitter bots.

We all need to be smarter, every single one of us.

If social media was reflective of the real world, I wouldn’t be able to go to most of the places that I go without seeing looting and rioting. The truth of the matter is that we do live in a world where we all peacefully interact with each other. You’d never know it based on how society is portrayed on social media.

Everyone needs to calm down, take a deep breath and live their lives. Not only that, we need to let others live their lives provided that it’s peaceful and doesn’t infringe on the rights of others. There is room in this world for all of us and the state of the country is not nearly as dire as either side of the argument wants to negatively portray it to be. You’d never know it if you spent even a few minutes on social media.

Be safe. Be a decent person. And most of all, get off of social media and actually live life. It’s not so bad out there. Really, it isn’t.

E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom.

Photo: en.wikipedia.org

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Is CTE Settled Science? Symptoms Similar to Those Found with Steroid Use

An on-going topic of debate in football is the impact the sport has on brain function. This is being discussed at all levels of football starting with youth leagues and going all the way up to the NFL. Concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) are serious issues that deserve not only the public’s attention but also the undivided attention of the NFL. But what if I told you that the symptoms associated with CTE were also associated with the use of steroids?

CTE, as defined by the Boston University CTE Center, is a “progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in athletes (and others) with a history of repetitive brain trauma, including symptomatic concussions as well as asymptomatic subconcussive hits to the head.” Everyone from ESPN to PBS has produced featured stories on not only how CTE has affected football players but also on how the NFL has allegedly covered up the findings in order to benefit its business model. The symptoms of CTE, based on the Boston University CTE Center, include “memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, and, eventually, progressive dementia.”

CTE has been blamed for the tragic events that led to the tragic stories of Kansas City Chief Jovan Belcher, New York Giant Tyler Sash, Atlanta Falcon Ray Easterling and San Diego Charger Junior Seau to name just a few. As a result of events such as these, many ex-NFL players have donated their brains to science and/or have retired from the NFL earlier than expected.

As is the case with any series of tragic events, society looks to cast blame on someone, or an entity, that is driven by greed. In the case of CTE, that entity is the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell. The charge against Goodell in the court of public opinion is that he, like his predecessors, chose to hide the impact of CTE from football players in order to maximize the profits of the NFL. Goodell found himself the subject of additional public outrage when he went on the record saying that he would encourage his son to play football.

Even with the substantiated proof of CTE, it should not be considered settled science that CTE is the primary factor involved in the tragedies of these current and former NFL players. Like Jason Whitlock and Danny Kanell, I too have my doubts about just how conclusive the science is that links CTE with these football tragedies.

In his J. School blog, Whitlock approached an angle that I have long thought about in regards to the symptoms of CTE and brain function. Whitlock discusses the angle the media took with the steroid issue in baseball, but what if there was more to the use of steroids in football than the media reported and we knew?

There is a long list of side effects that are associated with the use of steroids. These side effects include aggressive behaviors and psychiatric disorders. Aggressive behaviors and psychiatric disorders are also two of the more highly publicized side effects of CTE. I am not saying that CTE is not a real issue for football players and I am also not saying that it isn’t a serious issue for football players. But what if Goodell and the NFL are correct when they argue that CTE is not to blame for tragedies such as Jovan Belcher and Junior Seau?

Former NFL player Eddie George believes that steroids do play a role in the off the field issues of some of the NFL players.

Considering the fact that CTE and steroid use share some of the same side effects, why then is the impact of CTE considered settled science in the NFL and why then is the NFL, under Goodell’s leadership, being presented as being nefarious in their attitude towards CTE? My belief is that this is more outrage from the social justice warrior (SJW) crowd.

Blaming CTE for the current and post-retirement issues that afflict football players is the easy way out. The SJW crowd loves a good villain more than they love personal responsibility. CTE provides the villain and it’s a villain that Hollywood could also rally around. And considering that the topic of CTE has been snatched by the SJW crowd, it also means that it is an argument that is ultimately debated on social media rather than in the science lab. Like facts, science doesn’t care about your feelings. Social media does care about your feelings and topics become settled science based in large part to who can scream the loudest.

When discussing CTE in the NFL, many seem to remove the role of personal responsibility from the argument. Some players seize their freedom of choice and choose to retire early based on what is known about CTE. I applaud these players and believe more players should acknowledge that the choice does exist. Nobody forces these adults to play football.

Now, if steroids do play a role in the tragic events attributed to CTE then I believe that personal choice plays an even greater factor in this debate. But if the tragic events that occurred with Jovan Belcher and Junior Seau had anything at all to do with steroids, well, that doesn’t make for good SJW outrage because there is nobody like Goodell to present in an evil way. It’s all about the individual player at that point.

If you want a more concrete example of what i’m presenting, all you need to do is look at the world of professional wrestling. Paul Farhi makes an interesting statement in that Washington Post article:

Professional wrestlers of (Ultimate) Warrior’s generation (he was 54) have experienced a mortality rate that would be considered a crisis and a scandal if it happened in some other context — say, to football players, racecar drivers or boxers.

Farhi is correct in his assertion that if there were this many deaths of football players under the age of 50 that the situation would be considered a crisis and a scandal. Farhi even uses Chris Benoit as an example of a tragedy that would not be as accepted if it had involved an NFL player.

Before taking his own life, Chris Benoit killed his wife and their 7-year-old son, yet unlike the similar chain of events that involved Jovan Belcher, CTE was not blamed for Benoit’s killing spree. What was suggested as the influencing factor behind the deaths were steroids.

Investigators found anabolic steroids in the house and want to know whether the muscle man nicknamed “The Canadian Crippler” was unhinged by the bodybuilding drugs, which can cause paranoia, depression and explosive outbursts known as “roid rage.”

We as a society owe it to everyone to slow down and to take a responsible, level-headed examination of all of the facts and possible reasons behind the growing list of tragedies involving football players. Maybe CTE is the driving factor behind this growing issue and maybe the NFL and Goodell are ignoring it in the name of profit. But just maybe the science isn’t settled and just maybe the SJWs should give the scientific community time to engage in responsible science.

Remember, like facts, responsible science doesn’t care about your feelings.

E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom.


*Featured image courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org

Jason Whitlock Syndrome

There have always been football players who have generated un-wavering fan support. These players have fan support that seems to epitomize what it means to be a fan. There is nothing that can shake the confidence these pockets of fans have in their favorite player. Jadeveon Clowney, Johnny Manziel come to mind as do Nick Marshall and Dak Prescott. These players are truly exceptional at what they do and their personal and team success has proven this point.
Calling Kansas City my home, I have absorbed the town’s sports media and all they spout. As would be expected, I do have my favorites. Those favorites include Greg Hall, Soren Petro, Stan Weber and, of course, The Fake Ned. If I were to pick an all-time favorite, I would have to go with Jason Whitlock.
Jason Whitlock arrived on the Kansas City sports scene in 1994. His job at The Kansas City Star was his first major position after graduating from Ball St. in 1990. Love him or hate him, Kansas City sports fans had an opinion about the award winning journalist. He eventually began hosting a morning sports talk show on 810 WHB. During his infamous run at WHB, Jason talked about his favorite college and professional QB; Jeff George. Jason was George’s one man groupie as George had all of the physical tools to be a top tier QB, but just never seemed to put it all together on the field. Even with George’s struggles, Jason was unrelenting in his support and could give you every reason in the world that the quarterback was better than he really was. I now have a confession: I suffer from Jason Whitlock Syndrome and Maty Mauk is my Jeff George.
In the article I published last Thursday, I told the world that Mauk was better than his statistics indicated. I showed you why his return on investment trumped is otherwise pedestrian numbers. Even after the South Carolina game, I was trying to convince the nation that Mauk was not a problem. Against South Carolina, Mauk completed 35% of his pass attempts for 132 yards and no touchdowns or interceptions.
I was so convinced that Mauk was a capable SEC quarterback that I proposed that he would lead the Tigers to victory against a Todd Gurley-less Bulldog team. Mauk’s statistics against Georgia made me yearn for his output against the Gamecocks. Against Georgia, Mauk completed 42% of his passes for 97 yards. He also offered zero touchdowns and 4 interceptions. When it is all said and done, Mauk is who he is. What Mauk has proven as the starting quarterback for the Tigers is that he is a mediocre at best player. He has a rocket for an arm and plays the game with a gambler’s mentality. The problem is that he plays with poor mechanics and has yet to show that he is capable of reading the opposing defense.
Prior to the Georgia game, Mauk was unwilling to remain in the pocket. Mauk played the game with “happy feet.” At the first sign of trouble, Mauk would take off. However, he wouldn’t escape the pocket going north and south or east and west. His preferred method of evading a real or imagined pass rush was by moving backwards. Against Georgia, this was not the case. Mauk was not showing the same level of “happy feet” as he had in previous games. No, he was now content to stay in the pocket. What Mauk considered to be “pocket presence” was merely standing in place. This quarterback appeared to be clueless as to how to move in the pocket. If Mauk does one thing this year I hope he watches Aaron Rodgers. I do not expect that level of quarterback play, that would be an unfair expectation, but Mauk could effectively emulate how Rodgers moves in the pocket and uses his blockers.
As for the remainder of the season? That is now up to Gary Pinkel. During the game he showed Mauk that he was committed to him. This is part of Pinkel’s philosophy. Pinkel sticks with his quarterback and will not bench him. Other positions are considered open to conversation when it comes to Pinkel coached teams, but the quarterback position has never been one of them. The only way that a Pinkel coached quarterback will lose his job is if that quarterback is injured. Pinkel seems to suffer from Jason Whitlock Syndrome when it comes to his quarterbacks.
Jason Whitlock excels at having an opinion. And, unlike other sports journalists, I am confident that he believes every word that he utters. I am here to tell the world that I will continue to have an opinion and be willing to voice that opinion confidently, however, Maty Mauk will no longer be my Jeff George.

Welcome to MTAF – Boston

Think back 20 years ago. Did you know Dan Patrick’s political leanings? What about Keith Olbermann’s? It’s an honest question. Maybe you did know, and maybe they were just as open with their views on your life and how it should be lived as they are today. Maybe I wasn’t reading between enough lines.

Today it’s blatant. It seems imperative that anyone who writes about sports also thinly veils their beliefs on labor unions, on capitalism and corporations, on gun control, on sexuality, and on so many other topics of our time.

It is my fervent hope that we never become that at MTAF Boston.

I hope that, unlike guys like Bill Simmons and Keith Olbermann, we never forget why we are who we are. That we never forget that there should still be someone out there representing the sports customer. That we never assume just because we’re lucky enough to have your eyes on our page, it means you’re dying to know what we think about NAFTA.

We’ll probably fail. We like to write about sports, meaning we have opinions, meaning we have opinions on things other than sports (like, say, politics), meaning that our extra-sports opinions will bleed into what we write.

When it does, I hope you’ll have the effrontery to complain.

It’s pretty clear why former sports columnists / personalities like Simmons and Olbermann have decided to make their political views part of the conversation: they live in a bubble of sycophants. They believe that because sports have become such a part of our culture, that their big brains are useful to us on things other than quarterbacks and point guards. And who’s going to tell them different? The desperate-for-ratings suits at ESPN? The producer from the latest politically charged documentary? Their friends in the business?

It’s the fans who have that responsibility, and our goal will be to take you seriously even if no one else does.

Jason Whitlock can’t do that – he’s posited himself as a cultural commentator, not a sports columnist.

Keith Olbermann can’t do that – the real reason people pay attention to him is because he lights things on fire.

Bill Simmons can’t do that – he’s made the transition from sports to Hollywood and pop culture.

The only places left where you can read unfettered sports commentary are smaller websites like ours, where the authors aren’t beholden to the opinions of their bosses, their image and ego, their access to media-savvy players, and their pocketbooks. That is my impassioned plea for why you should frequent this website right here – because we’re on your side.

I don’t care about how much money an owner has, unless it directly affects how much he spends on my team. I don’t care about the long term effects PEDs have – I care that they affect the competitive balance of the game I’m watching. We’re fans and we’re the backbone of the sports business. I care about us.

To borrow an overused cliché, our goal should be to swim in our lane. It is not our aim to protect owner interests, player health, or our personal ideas of true American values. It is our aim to speak from the fan’s perspective, from the viewpoint that is most advantageous to you.

You want to feel enlightened about the world, there are plenty of mainstream sports websites that’ll pretend to do that for you – ESPN, Deadspin, and SI to name 3 of the big ones. If you enjoy reading those other guys, please continue. We are obviously not equipped to replace or compete with them. But do so with your eyes open. They are interested in one thing only – their own image and brand. We’ve got none of that to lose.

Welcome to More Than a Fan – Boston.

Media Members and Social Media

by Ryan Isley

Last Friday afternoon, I decided to go see a matinee showing of the movie “42”, as I had been anticipating the opening of the movie for months. When it was over, I immediately tweeted how much I enjoyed the movie and started looking for reviews from others who had seen it.

That is when I saw this tweet from Jason Whitlock of FoxSports.com:

WHitlock Tweet

Of course when I read the tweet, the first thing I saw was the word “need” and I reacted thusly:

My 1st Tweet to Whitlock

Moments after sending the tweet, I received a response from Whitlock in which he asked me if I would like to unfollow him or have him block me. Well of course I didn’t take that quietly:

My 2nd Tweet to Whitlock

Shortly after this tweet, Whitlock deleted the original tweet where he threatened to block me.  And to this point, I have not been blocked.

First of all, let me answer the most obvious question that was asked of me multiple times: Why didn’t I just unfollow Whitlock?

That is simple. I didn’t unfollow because I follow him for a reason – I like his writing. To use one of his sayings, Whitlock usually “does the damn thing” no matter what the subject. Even if I don’t always agree with what he writes or his point of view, Whitlock is one of the guys I do read on a regular basis. In fact, it is not a bad thing that I sometimes see things from a different point of view. There aren’t any writers I can think of that I agree with 100% of the time and that is the one of the great things about sports.

My issue with Whitlock on this day was that the word “need” seemed well, needy. It was as if he was begging his Twitter followers to read his column and retweet it to their followers – something that a writer of Whitlock’s stature is surely above doing.

The thing with my tweet to Whitlock was that I didn’t feel it was out of line. Was it? I guess you can judge that for yourself. After all, most of what happens on Twitter is subjective anyway. I just didn’t feel that it was worth a block. And I would guess Whitlock realized that as well, since he deleted the tweet and never did block me. After all, I tweeted him much worse after Ohio State beat Michigan when he had been trash talking the entire week.

But this is not just about Whitlock. Jason just happened to be the most recent example of one thing I am not a fan of when it comes to social media.

After all of this transpired, it got me to thinking about how some members of the media react and respond to readers and fans on Twitter or social media. Sometimes, it seems that reporters, writers, talk show hosts, etc. forget that they are public figures, not completely unlike the athletes that they cover. The problem with being in the public is that you are going to get criticism – it comes with the territory.

I am sure there are more tweets than I would want to read that are sent to these media members that are of a tasteless nature. Hell, I get some of them myself and I don’t get that many tweets. Not compared to guys like Whitlock, at least. What gets to me is when people threaten to block – or do block – followers when they are just sending a harmless tweet.

Now let me be clear – this criticism should in no way be of a vulgar variety or in the form of brutal personal attacks or name-calling. Nobody on Twitter – athletes and celebrities included – should be subject to some of the things that are sent their way by people who feel brave behind a keyboard. Well, unless they are simply trolling for reaction. Read: Bayless, Skip.

This isn’t just on a national level either. There are plenty of local writers and media members who follow this same script, like blocking a follower for asking why the media member wouldn’t even consider that Travis Benjamin might be a reliable option to return kicks for the Cleveland Browns. And believe me – it was an innocent tweet. And before you ask, it wasn’t my tweet nor have I been blocked by this writer.

I guess my problem has become that if media members are going to try to interact with the fans, they can’t be sensitive and start blocking people for a tweet that they may not like. Media members sometimes need to develop the thick skin that they would expect – and demand – from athletes. Once someone is in the public eye, they are going to receive tweets from people who don’t agree with them. And everyone needs to understand that is ok.

After all, what fun is sports if we would all agree?

And for the record – I went back and read Whitlock’s column on Jackie Robinson. As usual, he did the damn thing.

Comments? Questions? You can leave them here or email Ryan at [email protected]