Shock Jock Sports Talk

I don’t hate Colin Cowherd the person. I hate Colin Cowherd the radio personality. It’s not just him, but rather it’s this mentality that you have to be as edgy and controversial as you can be to have a successful job in sports broadcasting. A lot of people love the guy and other people of his ilk for his so-called honesty and his approach to radio show hosting, but frankly I just can’t stand his position as a sports radio shock jock.

I disagree with the opinions of sports radio hosts all the time. His opinions, whether I agree or disagree with them, are not why I dislike Cowherd. Why I dislike Cowherd is the way he presents himself. He comes off as arrogant, as an elitist, as a pretentious and unrelenting fan boy who lets you know that his fandom is more important and more correct than yours. It doesn’t take very long to realize that Cowherd says what he says just to get a rise out of people and to sound controversial. His approach to radio consists of two elements: bland opinions that he delivers in a condescending or otherwise unpleasant way, and outlandish hot takes that have little substance except to get people to call in and bitch on the air to him. And guess what? It works to perfection.

Tuesday, February 24 is a day that will go down as one of the most painful in recent memory for Chicago sports fans. Derrick Rose was diagnosed with a torn meniscus, pulling him out of the Bulls lineup again, and Patrick Kane, the top scorer in the NHL, suffered an upper body injury and could miss the start of the playoffs. Wednesday, February 25 is a great example of Cowherd’s shock jock approach to sports radio. Derrick Rose is the focus of this analysis, because Cowherd is an ESPN guy not named Melrose or Buccigross, so there’s no way he would even pretend to care about hockey. He started off with a condescending comment about feeling bad for Rose, before quickly bashing him and saying he’s never been an MVP-caliber player and he’s never thought highly of him. He made a comparison to Allen Iverson, which would usually be great, but he finished the thought by saying they’re nothing but flashy players (fireworks shows, I believe he called them) that aren’t capable of leading teams to championships. Don’t worry, he was talking down to the listener the entire time, what else could we expect?

While still on the topic, he made sure to talk about LeBron and how great King Whiner James is. Because that was relevant to discussion. Because your perception of what merits the Most Valuable Player award from several years ago matters in a discussion about a knee injury. Make sure to mention LeBron though, so that James haters will call in and moan about it while simultaneously the inbred morons who still think Derrick Rose knee jokes are funny will be yucking it up, calling in with praise. In this same segment of The Herd, our glorious host made sure to talk down to the listener and act like a special snowflake when he stated LeBron James is the always the best and most valuable player in the league, citing how bad the Cavs were pre- and post-James. Yeah, no duh. That’s not a creative or original thought, Hell it’s basic common knowledge. But Rose had a phenomenal season nonetheless, and in the NBA, when a player has a great season and isn’t exactly the status quo, they have a great shot at winning the MVP award. Common knowledge, but Cowherd’s delivery would make you think he had spent hours agonizing over this theory.

Within the next few minutes, Cowherd made sure to not avoid his Tom Brady hard on and mentioned the Patriots quarterback and how great he is, mixing in an incredibly dumb point about Peyton Manning and how the Colts built their team while he was at the helm of the offense (apparently teams that have stellar quarterbacks are the only ones that need a dominant pass rusher on defense, and that’s not arguably the second most important position on the team or anything). What does Tom Brady (or the NFL in general) have to do with the discussion about a basketball player’s knee injury? It has everything to do with it in Cowherd’s universe.

Talking down to his audience, delivering a bland opinion in a ridiculous tone in order to act like some sort of intellectual superior, sounds like a typical episode of The Herd. Hell, he even brought up the progressive improvements of Doug McDermott this season and said something to the effect of he’s getting better every week (apparently he doesn’t realize he only plays about 4 minutes per week at most). That’s just uninformed. Again, I don’t hate the person, I hate the radio personality. His whole show is made to just get a rise out of listeners, and it works perfectly. It accomplishes its goal, so there’s no reason to change it. Pandering (in one way or another) to the lowest common denominator is just not a good way to host a show in my opinion (there are multiple ways to do this, of course, he’s just taking one approach).

Colin Cowherd isn’t the only one who’s like this though, I don’t want to make it seem like I think he is. Take Charles Barkley for example. He likes to talk about how he made a decision that he’s not just going to please everyone who watches or listens to him and he’s going to just tell it how he sees it. That’s an admirable approach. He’s still a dick about it. That’s a crude term but it’s the truth, at least through my eyes. If you don’t approve of someone or something, that’s fine, but you don’t have to be an arrogant asshole about it, and Barkley has made a (post-NBA) career out of being an arrogant asshole in the media. People eat it up even though it doesn’t offer anything worthwhile or thought-provoking as much as he would like you to think. Sorry Chuck, but I’m not trying to please everyone.

Cowherd is a shock jock. That’s fine, there’s a market for it, and if there is some sort of profit to be a made, then an individual should take advantage of that niche. It’s a pretty basic concept. Good for him for taking advantage of it, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it (I don’t). He seems to be beloved by some very intelligent people, something that is completely lost on me. The man is spewing garbage half the time, the other half filled with patronizing and arrogant remarks blended together with baseless or downright empty commentary. He’s certainly not the only one like this; look at Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless. Bayless is a character, he doesn’t give out any rational or comprehensible opinions for a reason. His entire purpose is to get people worked up. People hate him yet his principle purpose goes over their head. Cowherd’s takes are somewhat more intelligent, and he appeals to more people (at least more people who are serious sports fans), I’m just not buying it though. I’m not quite at the Phyllis from the Paul Finebaum Show level of hatred for “Cow-turd,” as she would call him, but I think it’s about time I change the dial when he comes over the airwaves. Maybe everyone will at least consider it before willingly being spoken down to next time.

For more of my takes on the world of sports, follow me on Twitter.

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