By Ryan Divish
If I had a nickel for every stupid thing I've said, well let's just say, I wouldn't be living in my parent's basement. There I just did it again.
Just talking to girls alone, I've probably uttered more stupid comments and statements than the entire cast of Mr. Personality.
Everyone is guilty of saying stupid things, some (Martha Burk, Hootie Johnson, the Iraqi minister of information, the Dixie Chicks) more than others.
Most people don't mean to do it, it just kind of happens. It doesn't matter how smart you are or how many degrees you have, stupid things sometimes slip out. Just ask Bill Clinton.
We could sit and carefully plan out everything we are going to say in a conversation, but then a casual conversation would last longer than it's actually worth.
However, the key factor when saying something stupid is the forum in which it takes place.
If you are talking to a girl and you say something dumb, the only people that hold it against you are the girl and your conscience. Believe me, I speak from experience.
But, if you say something stupid while giving the keynote speech at Havre High graduation, the number of people who consider you a moron increases by a factor of 10.
What is even worse in this situation, is that people who don't know you, suddenly believe that you really are that stupid, just because of one dumb thing you said.
This is what happening to Boston Globe sports columnist Bob Ryan. In a brain cramp of some magnitude, Ryan, a well-respected and award-winning columnist, said a disparaging remark about New Jersey Nets guard Jason Kidd's wife, Joumana, on a local television show in Boston.
Ryan was asked what he thought about Celtic fans booing Kidd and his wife, who is shown prominently in the front row of all the Nets games.
"I've got theories with this woman, this Joumana Kidd who wants to be a star, wants to be a TV star,'' Ryan said. '"She wants face time on camera. The great way to get face time is to bring the cute, precocious kid (the couple's 4-year-old son, T.J.). Oh, great. I'd like to smack her.''
Was Ryan literally meaning that somebody should smack Joumana Kidd? Not hardly. Was he advocating violence toward women? Come on. Is Ryan a wife-beater, who thinks that hitting a female is right? You must be kidding.
Ryan said something incredibly stupid and asinine. It doesn't make him stupid or a wife-beater, it makes him just like everyone else. The host of the show even offered a chance for him to recant his statement. But Ryan, who obviously believed that the host meant changing his overall opinion about Joumana Kidd, refused.
There was nothing added to say that he didn't mean to actually hit Kidd, or he was overreacting. The comment was left there hanging in the air waiting for the sports media to grab it and run with it. And run it did. A day later, Nets coach Byron Scott was calling for Ryan to be fired.
Ryan was suspended by the Globe for a month without pay and was also banned for a month from speaking on a radio or television sports show.
The reason the comment resonated so loudly in the sports community is because of the Kidd family's well- publicized domestic abuse issues of its own.
On January 18, 2001, while Jason was a player for the Phoenix Suns, Joumana called 911 and told a police dispatcher that her husband had just struck her in the face. When police arrived, Kidd was arrested and booked for misdemeanor assault. He publicly apologized to his family, his team, and the public. He reached a plea agreement and was ordered to undergo six months of counseling.
Ostensibly, Ryan's punishment was harsher than Kidd's, who missed two games and was later traded to the Nets.
Domestic abuse is a very touchy situation and nothing to joke about. Five minutes after the show ended, Ryan was probably driving home and it dawned on him, "What the hell did I just say?"
There is some old saying about throwing stones and living in glass houses, which I'm not even going to try and figure out.
To put it simply, the criticism and pot-shots being taken at Ryan are simply hypocritical.
Sportstalk radio shows in particular, have chastised Ryan for grandstanding and trying to be controversial for the sake of ratings.
"Yes, hello, this is the pot calling, 'Hey kettle, you're black too.'"
Sportstalk radio hosts can never accuse anyone of being controversial for the sake of ratings. A large part of sportstalk radio has sunken to shock-jock criticisms of everything and anything with trash-minded talk that only a sailor or a drill sergeant would love. How can a sportstalk radio host, whose favorite word to describe any situation in sports is "suck," criticize Ryan, a journalist of 33 years, for saying anything stupid? There are plenty of words said on TV and radio, that I wouldn't even think of putting in this column.
Today, more than ever, sportswriters are more visible. Columnists like Ryan, Tony Kornheiser, Michael Wilbon and Jay Mariotti appear on national television and radio shows while countless others appear on local TV and radio in their respective communities.
What makes them different from some idiot with a radio show and nickname like "Mad Dog" is that people hold print journalists to a higher standard. Because the printed word is more respected, the people who write it must uphold that standard even on television or in public. It's something that keeps me awake at night.
George Ferguson and I like to talk about what it would be like having our own sportstalk radio show. If you saw us in person, you'd know that television is out of the question. It's something that I like to think about and hope to get if I'm ever a sports columnist at a bigger paper (sorry, I can't stay forever).
Would it be fun to host my own sportstalk radio show? Definitely. Would I be very careful as to what I was saying? Absolutely. Would I manage to say something stupid? Most likely.
Would that make me stupid? Maybe. Will I still be in my parent's basement? Possibly.