The NFL calls itself the ultimate reality show. But plenty of the people in the NFL continue to prefer to select which portion of reality people actually notice and discuss.
When it comes to practice fights, which tend to break up the monotony of training camp both for the players and anyone else paying attention, some would prefer that the media not mention them at all. That group includes the Harbaugh brothers, coaches of a pair of teams that practiced together without incident on Saturday and Sunday.
On Saturday, Ravens coach John and 49ers coach Jim complained about the media’s coverage of scuffles during camp.
“What’s interesting to me, and what’s a real indictment on you as the media, is the fact that [Ravens cornerback] Jimmy Smith was asked about it, and he said when he sees these things on TV, all he ever sees is fights,” John Harbaugh said, via Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun. “What does that tell you? How about a little self-check? We’re probably going to have 99 percent all great, positive things.
“But if there is a little shoving match out here, I’m quite sure that that’s what will be on these cameras, and it’ll be countrywide, and that’ll be everybody’s take on how it went, right? Because that’s how it is all the time. We’re going to look for the positive. You all can look for the negative, as usual.”
“I know that there will be many cameras assembled, gathered,” Jim Harbaugh said of the joint practices between the two teams. “And I’m sure that’s what everybody’s going to be looking for, that moment where you can capture the negative. We don’t anticipate that.”
That’s the way it will be, because the negative is interesting, especially if a head coach like Jim Harbaugh will kick players out of practice for fighting. The negative suggests that there are issues or problems or dysfunction. Pick up any newspaper and compare the positive stories to the negative ones.
Fights and scuffles and shoving matches generate natural interest among the audience. The publications that will thrive over the long haul will give the audience not what the publication thinks the audience should want, but what the audience wants.
Besides, the media has to take what it can get. With coaches who like to talk in circles and give non-answers on topics that don’t undermine strategic objectives if the coach were to opt for candor, it’s hard sometimes to generate content.
When it comes to the negative, the Ravens have been giving the media plenty this year to discuss — especially since the organization has chronically failed to perform any type of “self-check” regarding its decision to make excuses for a guy who knocked out his fiancée.