Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Blizzard: Anti-intellectualism

As you've probably heard, Keith Olbermann is joining MSNBC's Football Night in America, and Colin Cowherd insulted the move (as you can read at the Fanhouse, the Big Lead, and Awful Announcing).

Specifically, Cowherd said of Olbermann,

"he's about as middle-america as a transgender film festival. He's a Northeast Intellectual Baseball Guy....he doesn't speak to the NFL fan at all!"

This is blatant anti-intellectualism, of course, and worse: it's an insult to football fans. Cowherd is assuming that as an intellectual, Olbermann can't connect to football fans...because I guess football fans are stupid.

I compared Cowherd's anti-intellectual rant against Olbermann to ProFootballTalk's anti-intellectual rants against Tiki Barber. Interestingly enough, ProFootballTalk, which praised Olbermann, responded:

"In the comments to the item, a reader compares Cowturd's assault on K.O. to our habit of calling out TiVi Barber for using big words.

There's a difference. Olbermann is an intellectual, and that's fine with us. Barber is like Otto in A Fish Called Wanda, forcing big words and high concepts into conversation in an effort to make people say, "Wow, he's smart.""

Fair enough. I'd accept the argument that PFT is showing respect for a legitimate intellectual and contempt for a phony intellectual. But that's not quite what ProFootballTalk said about Tiki Barber. Check the late October archives:

"Tiki, pal, you've got to drop the fancy-shmancy talk. It doesn't connect with the kinds of folks who'll comprise the TV audience you ultimately aspire to have."


"we think (with all due respect to Tiki) that he's not going to play in Peoria until he: (1) quits using ten-dollar words gratuitously; and (2) removes that smug look from his face whenever he is being interviewed."

Yes, PFT's specific critique is that Barber uses a large vocabulary gratuitously to look smart. But PFT specifically says it "doesn't connect with the kinds of folks who'll comprise the TV audience [he] ultimately aspire to have," and uses the cliche "play in Peoria," which refers to playing to the Mainstream (or "Main Street"). In our current parlance, I think it means "will it play in middle America?"

I'm just saying, PFT's critique that Barber's big words won't connect to the audience he wants (such as Peoria) is not so far off from Cowherd complaining that Olbermann can't connect to middle America or football fans.

A few more links
Via the Big Lead, Keith T. Clinkscales lays down a cogent, well-written argument against Jason Whitlock's shift away from Imus and against Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and rap lyrics. It's definitely worth your time.

Blue Viking Devil takes on pessimistic Viking fans.

FreeDarko has Part 2 of its playoff preview/racial stereotype battle.

Whatever you think of Bill Simmons (and there's plenty to dislike), he writes good NBA columns. See Part 1 and Part 2 of his MVP column.

And don't forget to scroll down to see pictures of Brad Childress reading poetry.

A few more notes on the poetry reading. While a lover of poetry, I generally don't like readings. I digest poems by reading them slowly and repetitively. I need a chance to examine the words and reflect; when I hear poems spoken, it's just flowy words to me--for the most part. Some poems seem particularly written to be read, and hearing them read can be a forceful experience. I think the best reading of the day was Ta-coumba Aiken's reading of Nikki Giovanni's "All Eyes on U (For 2pac Shakur 1971-1996)." Which sort of fits into my earlier post about the cliche "all eyes on."


  1. I told you all eyes were on Tupac!

    I don't like Jason Whitlock.

  2. Anonymous11:19 AM

    recall the reason why that right wing comedian supposedly didn't catch on with monday night football was because his references were too eradite for barroom intake. exactly the reason why people reason madden is perfect for the slobbering masses-- of course, everyone makes fun of madden for being a slobbering baboon.