Sports Fans: Stop Criticizing What You Don't Understand

Mark HauserCorrespondent IIFebruary 17, 2009

When I was 21 years old and thought I knew everything, like most people that age, an older co-worker said to me that the easiest thing in the world to do is criticize.

Apparently, I was doing a lot of criticizing and didn't realize it. Even though I knew everything, I wanted to be liked and I wanted to become a better person, so I took it to heart. While I may still criticize too much, I am a lot better than when I was 21. 

I get the impression when listening to or reading sports fan discussions is that most of them did not have the advantage of this life-changing experience. Often times, to me, sports fans seem like a bunch of 21-year-olds who know everything. The amount of venom that is thrown at coaches, managers, and executives in sports is unbelievable at times. 

And I rarely listen to sports talk radio programs because of these fans, these people who know everything. To listen to them, you'd think they had spent 10 years as a head coach or general manager somewhere.

The callers on sports talk radio, most of whom have never played organized sports, all know all the correct decisions the coach should have made in Sunday's game. They are the biggest football coaching experts in the world, especially in the last two minutes of the game. 

Somehow, both Vince Lombardi's and Joe Montana's brains were implanted into these caller's brains. And yet none of them are professional offensive coordinators.

Worse than the callers are the hosts. Even when the caller's criticism is obviously invalid, the host usually does not usually point this out. This know-it-all attitude it not limited to talk radio; Internet blogs and forums are all pretty much the same way. 

I'm all for venting frustration when your team does not win (I have to be, since I live in Philadelphia). I just think someone should point out the reasons for the coaches' decisions. A fan is someone who supports his or her team...not someone who likes the team until they make one bad call, and then takes a dump on the entire organization.

Lest we forget, there are pluses and minus to all these decisions the coaches make.  Armchair quarterbacks seem to forget that hindsight is always 20/20. Just because some play does not work, does not mean it was the wrong decision. Excellent and poor execution by the players can make the coaches look smarter and dumber than they actually are.

It's all relative. A run up the middle is a boring call, unless the offensive lineman gets a good block and the running back gains 52 yards, and then suddenly the offensive coordinator is a genius who favors a punishing ground game.

Nor do these executives know what to expect on draft day, but fans seem to think they should. Fans know more than Mel Kiper, Jr. come draft day. Do I need to point out that we won't know for 10 years whether a draft pick is correct?

Here in Philadelphia, the fans famously booed (and a certain talk show host heavily criticized) the selection of Donovan McNabb over Ricky Williams when the Eagles had the overall No. 2 draft pick.  Who do you think was right? 

And if the fans had their way, it seems only the coach of the Super Bowl-winning team would keep his job at the end of the season. Somehow, they think there are 31 unemployed Lombardis out there to replace the coach of their favorite team. Why they don't take the job is a mystery, but since when does a sports fan have to back up an argument?

Oh, to be 21 again when I knew everything.