I’m always amazed at the level of disrespect that certain people receive. I think we all dish it. How sexy and awesome is the sportscaster Mike Tirico or the political talk show host Chris Matthews? You might be hard pressed to find admirers. These guys are basically invisible. A political talk show host is more likely to be called idiotic, stupid, and ill-informed, with a spite that is nasty and real. Sports announcers are more likely to be called corny, lame, and encouraged to shut up by the viewing public. Yet, whether you like it or not, when you look at the numbers, these are some of the most successful people in the world.
We all praise movie stars, musicians, and professional athletes. Their success is transparent. They all “made it” we say. They made it to the big leagues. This goes without saying. But I will posit this: Mike Tirico and Chris Matthews, in their respective fields, are more successful than the majority of movie stars, musicians, and athletes. That sounds crazy but it’s true. Mike Tirico, among other things, announces Monday Night Football games. If you look up the complete list of Monday Night Football commentators since its inception in 1970, you can fit it on one page—one page! How many players have been in the NFL or NBA since 1970? Thousands and thousands. Statistically, it is much harder to become a Monday Night Football broadcaster than it is an NFL player. It was unlikelier for Mike Tirico to achieve his position than it was for Terrell Owens to achieve his. Yet we look at Mike Tirico or any other sportscaster like it’s just some dude on the mic.
Similarly, Chris Mathews, often called an old rambling idiot, hosts a political talk show called Hardball. Hardball has been on the air since 1997. That’s 16 years! Say what you want about the man. Think what you want to about his politics or talking-head style, but the man is extremely successful. Can you even think of another person who’s had their own political talk show for 16 years and counting? He’s basically the Lebron James or Tom Brady of political talk show hosting. But the level of disrespect he receives is absurd. Anytime an event from his show is highlighted on a political blog, the comments about him would lead you to think he’s the stupidest blabbering ignoramus the world has ever known—vile, hateful stuff. But if he’s such this complete and absolute moron, how has he had a TV show for 16 years? Networks are a business just like any other. They’re about ratings and making money. If a show has been on for 16 years, something must be going right, right?
I’ll even extend an olive branch to someone I cannot stand: Rush Limbaugh. He is hands down the Michael Jordan of radio, period. Say what you want to about his incendiary, race-baiting, overblown style, the guy owns radio. I can call him a complete idiot and see him as the ultimate tool, but is he? The way he markets and positions himself as the voice of the frustrated old white male, at odds with the main stream media, is genius. He’s one of the most successful people in the world in his respective field.
So I ask people to keep things in perspective. Give some respect to people who are in positions that are tremendously hard to achieve, whether or not you like them personally or agree with what they say. They are more successful than you. And I think something else people are ignorant about is how hard seemingly “easy” positions are. I bet the majority of these trash talkers would perform absolutely terribly on their own TV or radio talk show. I bet they couldn’t keep up with play-by-play sports calling with humor and professionalism, yet they won’t hesitate to trash the Michael Jordans of these fields. Success is success. Respect it.