Oh, Susannah

Just a bullet point, or a counter point to all the angst here and everywhere about Susannah Collin’s dismissal from Comcast Sports Net.  There is some defensiveness and emotion in the ChicagoNow ranks, since one of our very own blogs apparently was a touchstone for sports fans to seek out the Sports Nutz videos that ultimately connected her to unemployment. But really, the seeds were sown in the moment those “shows” were made.

An important note:- I have no inside knowledge of this situation, despite the fact that one son (Mike) worked for Comcast and another (Pat) currently does work for the Blackhawks. I may be aware of the work cultures at these institutions, but nothing more. I have no idea whether Comcast had knowledge of the sketch comedy that Susannah participated in prior to her hiring.

It was a daisy chain of mishaps that brought a little viewed, adolescent jock-humor site to the fore.  Had she not had a blip on camera where she said “sex” instead of “success” her past admission about Sports Nutz might not have been the google result that popped up when her name was searched.   ( Really, Suzanne- you said those tapes got you noticed by Comcast Sports Net Chicago?  They HAD to throw you under the bus to save face.)

But it happened. Big. Bummer.

Susannah was getting better and more comfortable at her job: her interviews of players were fine, and the shoot the puck contest was enlivened by her wit.

BUT- an old legal adage is “jest at your own peril.” I would add a 21st century update: “post at your own peril.”

Today, kids give the world an all-access pass to their lives.   Many believe that all bits of their life demand publication.  In an innocent, nothing-to-lose phase of their lives, they are unwittingly dive-bombing their future prospects.  It used to be that youth was a place to make mistakes that would be forgotten. No more.  All is recorded for immortality.

If Susannah Collins had the dream of covering sports for a mainstream broadcasting company, thereby  dealing with billion dollar franchises with million dollar owners and players- she should have self edited.  Her journalism school should have driven this notion home.  Or a mentor along the way.  She should have reasoned that these forays would not blend with the corporate world of sports.

In a perfect world, Susannah could have expunged of this mess of racially insensitive, occasionally anti- semitic, and primarily unfunny stuff from You Tube.  Now, however, there is a permanent record if even one viewer hits “share.”  There is a disconnect between her broadcast goals and her career plan.  She grew up and was educated during the “film yourself” era: she should have known.

If her goal was to do Improv or Saturday Night Life, ok.  If she was to be a commentator on an off the grid look at sports on late night cable, sure. But mainstream coverage for franchise sports?  Not so much.

These days, franchises are sensitive about their images.  Owners go to great lengths to protect them. There is hypocrisy, of course, where players are concerned.  Their skill sets are unique, and they provide more cover.

Susannah Collins was a pretty girl, learning on the job, but she is replaceable.  That is a harsh reality.

So for those throwing all manner of contradictions (ice girls) and accusations (Bobby Hull) about the Blackhawks and Comcast into the pot, I can only say that it was Rocky Wirtz’ right to grant credentials for his broadcast.  Perhaps, as partial owner of Comcast, he believed he had a duty to inform other franchises that material readily viewed could inflame their players or viewers.  Perhaps the sexually explicit nature of some of Susannah Collin’s skits made managers or coaches uncomfortable about locker room proximity.  Who knows?

It is a hard lesson and a sad one for Ms. Collins.  I think she will find a use for her talents-some job that prizes her irreverence and counter-culture sensibility.

But extrapolate, young people:  some day your work, your behavior, your pictures and your self-created history can boomerang back to wreck your present and your future.  Edit now.  Use your common sense, your dreams, community standards- just do not be your own undoing.

Think before you jest.  Or post.


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