Forgive me if this article seems a little our of the norm and not entirely on the topic of this site, the Tennessee Titans. However, this is something that has been on my mind constantly for the past 24 hours and so bare with me as I indulge myself in examining myself and sports media in general.
In today's media world society the internet has become the number one source for news, sports and information as every newspaper, television network, magazine and media outlet on the planet is at the touch of your fingers through your computer. News is instantaneous. It is all over the world in a matter of seconds after it happens and we in the media rush to be the first to report something so that we can draw eyes to our sites and our work.
Some in sports media take this to new, and sometimes troubling levels in the pursuit of "clicks" to their works. It's been unceremoniously named "click-bait" by people in the public and refers to a writer or site that simple posts something controversial or often downright ridiculous in the attempt to gain "click" on their site.
The poster boy for today's media in "click-bait" content is Clay Travis.
The Fox Sports personality is brash, controversial and outspoken on issues of the day in sports. You can find him on television, radio and through his online site.You can fins him stirring the pot with fans and fan bases on social media where he is quick to engage while taking and being taken to task for the comments he makes.
This week in the light of the decision of Ouachita Parish (Louisiana) district attorney, Jerry Jones to drop all charges for insufficient evidence against two University of Alabama football players, Travis set about to write about that decision in his own controversial way.
His article- which I have not read- drew a response from other Alabama football players who looked to defend their teammates and selves against some of the comments in the article on social media.
The back and forth was short and did not devolve into a name-calling assault from either side. It was a contrast of shorts for the confrontational Travis who has been known to take comments to the obnoxious and sleazy side.
Before I go further, let me say that this is not a personal attack, and I actually like Clay, whom I have been around and interacted with on more than one occasion.
I met Travis for the first time in Birmingham, Alabama at SEC Media days when he uttered the now famous question if Tim Tebow was saving himself for marriage.
I was also present at St. Thomas Sports Park when Travis and Titans President Steve Underwood had a testy and heated conversation during the press conference to announce the resignation of former Titans head coach Jeff Fisher.
I don't always agree with the stances Travis takes, or the comments he makes in support of those stances, but I will defend his right to make them. He doesn't ask for, or care if I agree, just like I don't ask for his approval of my work. That's just part of our jobs, to write and report the news.
I've also been told I'm "jealous" of Travis and his success and celebrity. That's far from the truth.
I am happy that he has succeeded and I wish him the best. I'm happily doing what I do and doing it in a way that makes me proud of what I produce and the way I go about providing it to my readers.
In the wake of Travis' article and the comments between he and Alabama quarterback Blake Barnett on Twitter, former Alabama and Atlanta Falcons offensive lineman Mike Johnson cautioned Barnett and other Bama players to avoid confrontations with "click-bait writers on Twitter" because it is "what those writers were hoping for."
While that is wise advice from Johnson, it made me think about my place in sports media.
I have always tried to report the news and not be part of the news. I've been the same way in my radio broadcasting career of 26 years. It's about the games, the players and the events surrounding then, and not me that people want to hear and read about.
I'm also the same way on social media, where I feel it is part of my job to interact with any and every follower who takes the time to contact me for my thoughts and opinions. It's also my job to be courteous, professional and non-confrontational toward those same people. After all, they have and are entitled to their opinions just as I am.
We may disagree, but there is no reason to make things personal, or demean another person over sports.
Yes, it is also part of my job to get eyes to read the content I produce on this site, but I believe that there is a right way to do it.
I want your "clicks" on my work, but I do not want to get them at the expense of "baiting" someone to read my work because I am intentionally stirring the pot with a ridiculous opinion just to raise the ire of fans and guarantee people will read and respond, even if in a negative manner.
Johnson was right in avoiding "click-bait writers" but not all of us in the media today are willing to "bait" our readers into reading our stories.
The day I have to do that is the day I will walk away from this business, because what's most important to me is being able to walk away with my head held high and my integrity in tact when that final day comes.