Ready for an epic rant?
Stupidity makes me angry. And you won't like me when I'm angry.
On Sept. 27, the Cincinnati Reds clinched the National League's Central Division crown for the first time in over a decade on a walk-off home run. It was an incredible, legend-launching moment for one of the younger teams in baseball.
After the game, the Reds celebrated as many teams have before. The lockers were covered, champagne and beer was everywhere, and loud music was blasting. A bunch of kids in the 20s from all over the world were celebrating something special.
A few team members even decided to light up a victory cigar.
Then I read this on CBSSports today:
The Cincinnati Health Department will conduct an inspection of the Great American Ball Park and the Reds' clubhouse after at least five people called a state hotline, complaining that when Reds players lighted up celebratory cigars after they clinched the NL Central it violated Ohio's smoking ban.
I'm sorry... WHAT?
I first took a class in journalism in high school, and then it was my major in college. The most basic principle that every level of my education in the field taught was that it is the job of the reporter to REPORT. Your job is to tell the story, not become part of it.
This is the second time in less than one month that stupidity has decided to make its way into the locker rooms of professional sports in North America.
I'm not going to wander down the road too far regarding the young lady that started a firestorm with the New York Jets and the NFL, but I will point out one very interesting part that's been lost in a lot of the dialogue surrounding that story: it wasn't the alleged victim that called the NFL. It was another member of a group of female sports journalists that was described, by a member of the organization on ESPN, as being "very loose and unorganized." Someone saw something wrong with the situation, and took it onto themselves to handle the situation in an anonymous fashion.
Now, there are people calling the Health Department because a few guys lit a victory cigar? Really?
Clearly there is going to be some level of bias assumed in my comments based on nothing more than the banner at the top of this blog. I'll admit to the entire free world that I, Tab, smoke cigars. I also enjoy scotch, blackjack, and will occasionally wear sweatpants in public. It happens. Sorry if that destroys your world view.
But my issue isn't with Ohio's smoking ban (well, at least not that I'm fired up about at this point). It's with stupid people getting what they deserve.
After the whole ordeal with the Jets, there was talk that NFL teams would simply close their locker rooms to everyone. Then, of course, there was a cry that the team, and the NFL, was swinging the pendulum TOO far. How dare they take away the media's right to access naked men within minutes after playing their hearts out for three hours? The nerve!
Well, when conduct in the locker room becomes an issue, and reality says you're not going to change that culture, then the easiest solution is to remedy the problem the only way you can: avoid the situation happening again.
So now someone is complaining about how the Reds celebrated winning the division.
Of course, just as was the case in New York, this time the individuals that pulled the fire alarm want to stay in the shadows. Their names will be kept secret, while the names of the players (and probably the make of the cigars) will be in their blogs on Monday morning.
And yet, when the Reds and other baseball teams start to ask the rhetorical question "Why should we give you access if you're going to make it into a problem?" these reporters will get angry that the team would have the stones to take away their right to access.
Well, as a member of the media that covers these games, my personal opinion is SHUT UP.
Did these individuals seriously think that calling the Health Department wasn't going to get back to the team? Or, even better, become part of the news at some point?
The players were celebrating.
Well I'm sorry folks, but there are a lot of things for media to report about in sports other than cigar smoking after a championship. This isn't the bottle of Andro in Mark McGwire's locker, and it isn't Lawrence Taylor admitting to sending friendly females up to harass opposing players the night before games. Indeed, even the harassment in the Jets' locker room is worthy of attention.
But these were cigars after a monumental victory.
It's what champions have done for generations. In fact, the Blackhawks smoked some cigars after they won the Stanley Cup. Perhaps none were more famous than Boston's legendary Red Auerbach, who smoked on the bench.
There are parts of sports culture that absolutely do need to change. There are some that don't, and shouldn't become an issue.
Smoking victory cigars is part of the latter. Creating a story that doesn't need to be an issue is the former.