Who Speaks For The Fans?


Omar Kelly answered a question VIA “Twitter” earlier today when a reader commented that the fans need a voice.  Someone who could speak for them, someone who had their pulse so to speak.

"The NFL fanbase needs a strategy, a leader, a union spokesperson, someone to speak on their behalf.  Kelly’s reply – That’s the media in my opinion."

A follow up to that was later posted:

"Huh? Media should speak for the fans? That makes zero sense» Kelly’s reply –  Maybe advocate. At least columnists should. Just my opinion"

That got me to thinking.  Never a good idea after I just sat through an hour of Dr. Suess the musical with an auditorium of first graders. Is Omar Kelly right? Is the media our voice?  The fans voice?  If so, I don’t think there is one person in the media, mainstream, that I want speaking for me.  Not one person that I would hand over my opinion to, to stand in front of the owners and the players union and express my thoughts.

Why?  Because they are not fans.  Omar Kelly has said on several occasions that he misses being a simple fan and that being a beat writer/sports journalist has ruined the game for him.  Know this, I like Omar Kelly, in fact of all the south Florida Dolphins writers, I trust his opinion more than any of the others.  But make no mistake, his opinions are his own and they come with the caveat to sell papers.  In other words, he has a job to do and repping a bunch of fans opinions and voices is not one of them.

Sorry Omar, but it’s true.

It would also mean that if Omar were correct in his assertion that the media or at least a columnist should be an advocate then the same could be said about Armando Salguero.  I can tell you now that I wouldn’t let him speak on my opinion on whether or not there was a blue sky behind clouds of white.

The media has an agenda, they have to.  They have deadlines and responsibilities and often write their articles based on their opinions of the perceived fact in the hopes that the reader will agree with them or at the very least disagree with them.  They are accountable as any half decent writer mainstream or not should be, but they do not have the pulse of the fan.

When the Dolphins played Cleveland this past season Kelly made light of the fact that the loudest cheer of the game came after the successful 60 yard Dan Carpenter field goal.  He gave the impression that it was simply all there was to cheer about and in some ways it came across as the fans simply wouldn’t cheer when the team needed them to.  It’s his observation, but not once did he say that they were cheering because their kicker made 60 yard field goal that was the longest of his career and one of the longest in team history.  In other words it was his opinion.

I often find it funny that mainstream media reporters often set themselves higher than the fan.  They don’t cheer in the press box, that’s a no-no as evidenced by one network firing a reporter for clapping after the Daytona 500 winning surprise.  While most writers who “tweet” their opinions to fans will often reply to a few of the comments, they really don’t take an active role in communicating with the fans in general.

When was the last time any reporter, columnist, stood outside a stadium following a Dolphins loss or a win and asked the escaping crowd what their thoughts were?  What about after a publicly opened practice?  I can tell you that it’s been a very very long time.  You don’t see them out with the masses prior to the game either, getting info about the “fan voice”.

The media, in my opinion is the last group of individuals to hold the fans voice.  Columnist or not.  Kelly seems to support the players more than the owners, that’s his opinion and I honestly can’t say that with 100 percent conviction it’s only a feel from his comments and articles.  I however do not support the players in this labor dispute.  Well, very little of me does.  Kelly and other media members speak with players on a daily basis and if there is a work stoppage, they will have more access to players than the teams themselves.

Mainstream media do tend to treat players a little nicer at times especially when they know that they will need information from them later.  Get on their bad side and good luck.  It’s an unwritten rule that players who act up or step out of the box and drop bombs are not protected…news must be reported.  I respect and understand that.  Still, there is a finely formulated opinion that media members develop over time by speaking with players, management members, and sometimes owners.  They do not however, speak to the fans.

Some will field radio talk show phone calls and some do respond to questions VIA Email and posted comments but when was the last time that they took the time to visit a fan forum and really read through the hundreds of emotional threads to really gain insight into the psyche of a fan?  A Dolphins fan?  A sports fan in general?  If they have, they are not exploring that opportunity in their articles.

Forums are simply that.  A meeting place on line for fans to congregate and talk about what is going on regarding those topics in which they subscribe.  It’s 90% emotionally driven and 10 % based on factually formulated opinions.  It’s true.  If I say that “Jason Taylor said he doesn’t want to play for the Dolphins”, it’s a fact.  If someone responds to that by saying, “I could really care less what JT does anymore” then that is an opinion motivated by emotion.

Where is that voice being expressed in the media?

The only voice that fans have is with their wallets.  Stop spending money and you will be heard.  I always find it interesting those that believe they have the pulse of someone else when they are not in their shoes.  This isn’t a dis on Omar Kelly, as I said, I actually enjoy what he rights (although I will say that Lady Antebellum’s song “Need you now” is not a redneck booty-call.

It’s all really fact.  Media is media.  They don’t pay for games, they don’t pay for parking and they don’t pay for food at the stadiums, and I would have to believe that in the sports they cover, they are not out shopping for team merchandise all that often.  I would have to assume that a fan would be the best voice to represent the fan.  At least I would have more trust in you speaking for me as you speak for yourself than someone else speaking for me that really doesn’t understand what my voice actually is saying.

Who should have your voice?