Last season when Leicester City ran their way to an English Premiere league title, NBC lead commentator Arlo White was jubilant as can be. The foxes came into the season with 5000-1 odds and through it all they won the title and by five points nonetheless.
White was born and raised in the city of Leicester but the thing I admired the most when he called the final game in which the Foxes were officially crowned champions, is that he didn’t take away from the moment. He simply watched and guided the viewers through one of the biggest stories in sports history.
Arlo White could have easily hijacked the moment by telling a somber tale of how he grew up in the city of Leicester and what this title means to him but he didn’t. He simply like the rest of us, just soaked it in.
One of the hardest things about the sports media world is walking that line of being a spectator vs. being a fan. We all know that media members aren’t supposed to actively root for their teams and there’s good reason for that, but would it have been so wrong in this instance per-say for White to intervene and express his joy he had for his boyhood club winning the EPL title?
It’s something I have thought about a lot recently. One of the main reasons is the career of Bill Simmons. Simmons was born and raised in Boston and he will never ever let you forget it. Breaking into the sports scene as a terrific NBA writer, Simmons established himself as one of the best and eventually became a member of the ESPN family.
Although he is now an HBO employee and a prominent member of the sports media world, he has no problem showing his allegiances to Boston and I found that to be extremely fascinating. Aren’t sports media members supposed to hide their fandom? After all it is the professional thing to do.
But why though? After all being a lover of sports is what got him into the business so why is it so wrong for him to express his passion as a love of all things Boston?
Sure it may rub some people the wrong way, but is it really so bad to be an outspoken fan of teams you clearly associate with?
Of course the case of Simmons is an anomaly because he has established himself as a very successful and prominent member of the sports media world, but the point remains the same.
Fandom is what gets most people in the business because after all, at the end of the day we are all sports fans. So why not act like it?