Sports, Politics, Radio, and How They're Making Us Want To Choke Someone

Eric GomezAnalyst INovember 6, 2009

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK - OCTOBER 02:  US President Barack Obama greets IOC members after the Chicago 2016 presentation on October 2, 2009 at the Bella Centre in Copenhagen, Denmark. The 121st session of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will vote on October 2 on whether Chicago, Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro or Madrid will host the 2016 Olympic Games.  (Photo by John Gichigi/Getty Images)
John Gichigi/Getty Images

I've often wondered why talk radio is a medium that is almost completely dominated by two topics: sports, and politics.

People talk about a lot of stuff everyday, and lord knows that every other venue of mass communication isn't limited to those two topics.

Television, the Internet, and print media boast a variety of entertainment options for their viewers and readers, unless you're watching a serial drama, in which case your slices of life include the life of a lawyer, the life of a doctor, or the life of a police officer or any combination therein.

(I'm thinking of pitching a show about a New York lieutenant who moonlights as a brain surgeon at a local hospital and is trying to get his brother off of death row by using forensic evidence and uncomfortable close-ups of Laurence Fishburne.)

Ever since ESPN Radio invaded my local FM airwaves, I've been listening more and more to sports talk radio.

Deciding that it was better than channel surfing between the same five Black Eyed Peas, Flo Rida, Alice in Chains, Miley Cyrus, and Kanye West songs that are on infinite repeat in San Diego's stations, the time I've spent listening has gotten me to think.

Why is listening to a different group of guys talk about the same topics every three hours so appealing to me and many others?

Likening this to politics, I get my healthy fix of controversy from my two favorite morning shows, which are comedic in nature but usually get into some heated discussions, considering cast members are from both sides of the political aisle.

I usually stay away from political discussions. Not only are they not my forte, but I feel they don't get anywhere. Not a senator/congressman/governor/president? Not interested.

And from this, I've figured something out.

The point of talk radio is cruel and unusual. To get you to yell back at your radio, knowing full well no one on the other side is going to hear your reply.

Think about it.

When's the last time you heard some homer talk about why USC should still be in the national championship game despite the fact they are routinely upset by at least one Pac-10 team? Two losses? No problem. They beat Notre Dame.

Anyone with a decent understanding of college football will lash out at hearing this. But when is the last time you pulled over on the highway or sneaked under your desk at work and called to retort?

It's the same effect you get every time you hear some blowhard talk about fixing health care reform when you know he's totally and completely whacked out.

The only people who dare to call in are the host's immediate family and friends, or their loyal army of listeners who agree no matter what.

Then there are those who don't encourage listener feedback, remaining out there in their little island on radio land, immune to criticism and common sense.

And it's not like other mediums don't do this. Entertainment media dole out opinions on celebrities regularly, but rarely is anyone completely demonized or tortured by absolutely everyone ("Leave Britney alone!").

The problem is: we're all the same.

We think that our fundamental understanding of topics that we are passionate about (i.e. sports) are backed by undeniable truths.

It's why turkeys like me pen opinion columns, exalting or bashing a certain person or organization that we probably know very little about on a personal level.

I know I've read articles on this, and many other websites that have infuriated me to the point of wanting to shoot off a long e-mail or comment reply. Nine times out of ten, I get lazy and assume someone else out there is equally outraged and will do the job for me.

We are biased, we rarely look beyond our scope and criticize those who do the same.

Think about it.

Bah, Republicans. Pff, Yankee fans.

Oh, you Democrats are spineless hippies. Whatever, Raider fans have the IQ of a rock.

Capitalism is superior to Communism. Laker fans root harder than Celtic fans.

Based on what? According to whom? In sports, we tend to quantify things that are inherently impossible to measure.

The Steelers are going to win this game because their intensity level is so much higher than the Broncos. They have more heart .

Yeah, you're right. My intensitymeter is showing that the Steelers are a level 12 to Denver's six. My bad.

Political discussions usually devolve into moral gray areas and religious dogmas which satisfy no one.

So, you're telling me that Jesus is angry because we might be letting gay people get married? Tell me, when you and Jesus hung out at the bar, did he wear anything other than those long, white sheets? Did you have to pay for beer, or did you just order glasses of water and wait for the miracle?

That's interesting.

As I drive from work today, I'll probably figuratively bare my back to be whipped by the absolutes and intentionally polarizing opinions of radio hosts who will try to sell me on the idea that Barack Obama is Adolf Hitler reincarnate or that LeBron James will choose to play in Greece next year while I grit my teeth and amuse the guy next to me at the stoplight by yelling at my radio.

However, one thing remains clear in my mind:

I'm right, you're wrong—and I need a radio show to prove it.