For his last regular Sports Illustrated Media Podcast of 2019 (the next two episodes will focus on the year in review), Jimmy Traina said he wanted to do something more fun with a light-hearted guest and interviewed Kyle Brandt from NFL Network’s Good Morning Football.
As you might expect, Brandt didn’t disappoint as the conversation covered several topics from recent pop culture, such as Justin Timberlake and Chris Pratt publicly apologizing for perceived gaffes in recent photos, along with diving deep into 1990s WWE and the greatness of heels like Ravishing Rick Rude.
But since Traina’s podcast does focus on sports media, he and Brandt also discussed what they believe to be a problem in the industry. And really, it’s something that we who follow sports media have all noticed at one time or another from various personalities. The problem is old guys in sports media trying too hard to appear young or as Brandt put it, being “annoying old guy.”
“There’s certain things in life you shouldn’t do when you reach a certain point,” said Brandt, citing wearing bandanas as Deion Sanders did as a personal example. Traina identified that time as when “once your age has that ‘4’ as the first number.”
It’s a question of authenticity, according to Brandt, of being true to who you are and not trying to be somebody else. After citing Howard Stern as an authentic media personality, Traina follows up with an example of someone who made him “cringe,” pointing to Bill Simmons once frequently tweeting about playing Fortnite. Here’s an excerpt:
— The Podcass (@thepodcass) December 12, 2019
To be fair, Simmons appears to have stopped tweeting about Fortnite approximately a year ago. So maybe he realized what Traina is saying, that it looked like an attempt to seem current and cool (or if you really want to sound old, “hip”).
Last night I ran somewhere aimlessly, got beamed up into the air, parachuted down, followed a map to take me to a weird circle, found some weapons, sprinted for 8 minutes to the circle and then got shot as my kids laughed and mocked me. Thanks Fortnite.
— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) April 26, 2018
Brandt mentioned that Simmons may have been doing it because of his kids, which is certainly possible. And maybe once he started playing, he just got caught up in Fortnite and enjoyed playing it. Who hasn’t experienced something similar, whether with video games, TV, movies, or books?
This is particularly tricky territory for those in sports media. No one working in TV or print — or especially in online media — wants to appear out of touch when talking about current culture and applying it to sports for relevance and humor. We struggle with it here at Awful Announcing, some maybe more than others. (Whether or not we succeed in coming off as authentic is something you can judge.)
Personally, I know I worry about it occasionally when making a reference in an article or tweet. Readers and followers can tell when you’re trying too hard to act or talk like a younger person. I’m hesitant to share my age because of stuff like this, but I’m near that point Traina and Brandt mention and most cultural references I make surely reflect that (especially when it comes to music). And I know when I’m reaching too far. Fortunately, it usually happens in the company of an eight- and five-year-old, and they’re probably not going to call me out on it. At least not for another year or two.
But let’s be careful out there, sports media members. People will notice when you’re being a poseur. They’re all gonna laugh at you. (And that’s an old reference, twice over.)