Is the drumbeat leading up to the NFL draft driving you crazy? Are you ready for Thursday’s NFL Draft to be over? Do you feel like you will curl up and die if you read one more mock draft that has the Buffalo Bills drafting Josh Allen?
In an effort to provide some respite, I decided to offer my first annual ‘Twit’ Award – in honor of professional sports journalists in Western New York who battle daily with fans of the Bills and/or Sabres on Twitter.
Hey, the motion picture industry has its ‘Razzy’ awards. Harvard University’s ‘Ig Nobels’ bestow awards (from actual Nobel winners) on scientists presenting the silliest science awards. Why shouldn’t WNY sports journalists be recognized for their daily banter on Twitter?
Let me bore you with a little history about why I chose to honor this group in particular.
Some of you know I was a moderator on the Buffalo Bills Message Board (RIP) for 12 years. I cut my social media ‘teeth’ sorting through all sorts of opinions (you can imagine) whilst trying to keep things civil.
One of the first things people tend to do on social media when their beloved sports teams stink to high heaven is attack any journalist who dares to question their beliefs. After reading literally thousands of posts ripping one WNY sports journalist after another, the negativity seeped into my soul as well.
I would soak up that negativity and then some. I found myself looking for reasons to despise anything Jerry Sullivan wrote. I held on to this negativity until Twitter came along and provided the opportunity to see first hand what journalists deal with from the public on Twitter.
It was eye-opening to ‘say’ the least.
On Twitter, you have the opportunity to view interactions directly with the person being attacked. At first I wasn’t sure about some of the vitriol I would read from professional journalists.
Having lived much of my adult life ‘B.I.’ (Before Internet) and being a working professional, I was unaccustomed to professional people responding back with vitriol.
The good news is I found out that even in old age, people can learn new things.
As time went on, I came to see how professional journalists make us THINK – and that seems to be what some people react negatively toward. The beauty of social media is the ability to directly interact with one another. It presents a whole new paradigm for communication.
The important role played by professional journalists in society cannot be understated. They teach us to think critically and we should be grateful to live in a time when their wisdom can be directly shared on social media.
And that’s why I decided it was time to come out of the closet and in my own twisted way say thanks to the ‘soldiers of social media’ who try in their own unique way to keep Bills and Sabres fans from jumping over Niagara Falls – and maybe teach us something along the way.
Without further fanfare, let me offer my first annual TWIT award – to the professional journalist who taught me the most about being open minded. While this list is growing, I would be remiss to ignore the obvious elephant of all TWITs as my first honoree.
Mr. Sullivan’s work represents an important role in society – the role of the skeptic – few accept and understand how badly we need to hear what we often don’t want to hear because it conflicts with our beliefs or values.
On my Twitter timeline no professional journalist (maybe Mike Rodak could be an honorable mention ;) – faces more negative commentary than Jerry Sullivan. He handles it all with aplomb.
A couple of years ago, I also had the pleasure of meeting Tim Graham, Tyler Dunne, Joe Buscaglia, Matthew Fairburn and Mike Rodak (!) at a local spot in Allentown. It provided one of life’s great lessons for me.
Buffalo is blessed with professional people who care deeply about their community at a time when their own profession is undergoing massive creative destruction.
Social media and the exploding digital world has turned the role and function of journalists upside down. It’s my strong belief we need to help preserve the important role they serve in society.
We’re blessed to live in an age when fighting about sports teams can occupy so much of our time. If we lose the important voice of reason available to us because we fail to value the vital role of professional journalists, what happens when we have something really serious to debate as a society?
So, that’s my long-winded reason for creating the TWIT award for WNY professional sports journalists. Of course I can’t do anything without making it ridiculous and this is no exception.
However, if one person reading this develops a greater appreciation for our great group of professional sports journalists in Buffalo, I feel the first TWIT award will have been a complete success.
Editor’s babble: Honorable mention this year goes to AP’s John Wawrow, if for no other reason than his taste in music. You can find me on Twitter @RobynMundyWYO.
*Views expressed by authors may or may not represent owners of the BillsMafia.com website.