I’m not even sure where to begin.
With the Masters over, the baseball season and NBA playoffs just starting and the NFL Draft still several days away, former ESPN reporter and current reporter for The Action Network, Darren Rovell, decided it was time to take a stand for our country and its future by railing against an electronic billboard that celebrated LSU’s gymnastics team’s second place national finish at the NCAA Championships.
If it sounds silly, it is. Rovell Tweeted that “No, you can’t put up a billboard for coming in second’ as if LSU had just struck a blow against motherhood or patriotism or world peace.
Yes, everyone is allowed their opinion, as is Rovell, but his opinion isn’t that the billboard is silly, but that it can’t be done.
Why can’t it? I don’t have an example at my fingertips right now, but the Olympics give out gold, silver and bronze medals and I’d be willing to bet some town somewhere has posted a billboard or newspaper ad congratulating their hometown hero on their silver medal.
When one Tweeter opined that Rovell should have just sat this one out, he replied that “I didn’t, for the sake of my children.”
Of course, his children’s futures would have been affected by LSU congratulating its team on a second-in-the-nation finish. (Note to Rovell children, don’t expect any congratulations if you are merely the salutatorian in your class).
No matter where you sit on the ‘participation trophy’ issue (I sit somewhere between ‘everyone gets a trophy’ and ‘sprinkles are for winners’), you can hardly equate someone finishing 16th out of 16 and getting a 16th place trophy with someone finishing second (unless there are only two participants).
Rovell’s Tweet was ‘liked’ (or whatever that heart emoji means) 2,500 times, so some people do agree. One, for instance, asked if LSU put up a billboard when it finished second to Alabama in the 2011 national championship football season – a 21-0 loss.
That is a fair point, but I think it’s all about expectations. LSU football had already beaten Bama once that year. They were unbeaten. They were playing in their home state. The loss was a terrible disappointment.
And, I don’t expect LSU baseball to put up any billboards celebrating anything less than a College World Series title, but if LSU hoops had made the Final Four and finished runnerup, I don’t think a billboard for an accomplishment that was well above expectations would have been out of line.
Now, LSU’s gymnastics team’s expectations are high. They’ve been national players and in the sport’s equivalent of the Final Four many times. But this season was a bit different. The Tigers started very slowly and had many injuries along the way. While they would have liked to have won it all, getting where they got after the slow start was a victory in itself.
It just seems silly to make this such a big deal and I reserve the right to think that Mr. Rovell did all this just to get what he got – a lot of attention and re-Tweets and some huzzahs from the ‘anti-participation trophy’ crowd.
Heck, he got me to write this. So there’s that.
He even makes really silly arguments like saying that a banner unveiled in the team’s arena is okay, but a billboard is not? I’m not sure I really get that one.
The bottom line is that you can celebrate achievements and achievements aren’t necessarily always winning it all. Heck, even that person who finishes 16th out of 16 might celebrate if they were recovering from a major injury and told they may not ever participate again. Everything is relative. If LSU had been the overwhelming favorite and had finished a distant fourth by falling several times and just blowing it, I don’t think the same billboard would have gone up.
My biggest issue is Rovell referring to something as harmless as a billboard congratulating achievement as a ‘societal problem’ and something he needs to address for his children. Really?