The Lickliter Spoof Fallout

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University of Iowa Athletic Director Gary Barta asked WHO-TV to apologize for Chris Hassel’s controversial John Lickliter spoof Sunday Night on SoundOFF. I respect Mr. Barta’s decision to stand up for one of his, just as we stand by one of ours. Hawkeye fans should think more of Barta for doing this, not less.

I’ve received passionate e-mails and phone calls all week, including a few tonight. Most of the negative letters ask for my  take on Chris’ segment. Here is one of my recent responses:

I appreciate you taking the time to write and ask for my opinion on Chris Hassel’s spoof Sunday night. I take your constructive criticism seriously.

I will tell you that the Lickliter piece also made me uncomfortable. Had I seen it before it aired, I would have asked for changes. (Chris likes his taped pieces to air as we see them for the first time, so that our on-air reaction is honest. In retrospect, this is flawed idea, and we will no longer do this.) Like you, I thought the Lickliter spoof crossed the line. I chuckled early and cringed late.

However, the segment should not be confused with journalism, or a report in one of our Emmy award-winning newscasts. It’s SoundOFF, a sports and entertainment show featuring strong opinions, passionate viewer feedback, and hopefully, a few laughs. It’s closer in tone to the Daily Show or SNL than it is to NBC Nightly News.

Again, let me be clear, I did not care for the target of the spoof, but I’m glad we have such a popular forum for dissenting views and opinions. I have been stunned how many people loved it the video. I’m also aware of the many people who did not care for it. Satire is highly subjective. What’s over the line for someone often depends on their biases and views going in. Humor, as you no doubt know, also often takes on a slight tone of mean-spiritedness. The line to not cross mostly depends whom you ask.

When Chris told me the general idea of his latest spoof, my advice was to “make sure it’s not mean toward John. He’s doing his best, and just wants to play for his dad.” Chris honestly didn’t think it was mean. I know he feels bad that he offended (some) people. He was trying to show what the movie Rudy would be like if Rudy had to play a lot more, and there was no happy ending. It was intended as a commentary on the state of the Iowa basketball program, not John Lickliter.

I don’t agree with the content of “What’s Bugging Andy?” each week, and I don’t agree with everything Chris Hassel does or says, but I stand by their right to say it. (We’re fortunate we have bosses who feel the same way, which is nothing to take for granted these days.)

If Chris wants to sincerely apologize, either publicly or privately, we certainly support that. We will not force him to do it, for that would accomplish little.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I appreciate your feedback.

27 comments

  • Anonymous

    It is absolutely RIDICULOUS to try to turn this around and say that Chris Hassel has been wronged in some way. John has done nothing to deserve this. Hassel had the poor taste to make the video, and now he has to take responsibility for it. The station that aired it on the program (the so-called “sports and entertainment” show) showed total lack of good judgment and class in doing so. I'm not surprised that Hassel is a kid, himself. If he had his own children, he wouldn't have done something so inappropriate and damaging to a young man such as John. I would at least hope that by the time he has children, he will have learned the difference between humor and trying to humiliate someone.

  • MJ

    Where does Keith ever try to say that Chris is the one being wronged? I've heard a lot of different views, but mine remains the same. This was a funny take on the sad state of hawkeye basketball. Take it for what it is, or leave it.

  • Anonymous

    The difference between the attack on John Lickliter and the followed attack on Chris Hassel is pretty simple. Chris opened himself up to criticism by making an irrational jackass video. All John has done is bust his butt to be a good teammate, try to fill a need for a group of guys (coaches and players) who are trying to right the ship that is hawkeye basketball. I know the program is not where anyone wants it to be but realize that it isn't going to get better by attacking the players. These guys have battled in every game this year, if effort were the reason for the attacks then I probably wouldn't have as much of a problem with the piece. I get a kick out of guys like Chris that think they are so cute for coming up with a witty joke to poke fun at defenseless student athletes. He was probably the kid that got pissed on in the showers so he's trying to make up for it. Get a life Chris and to hell with the Hawkeye fans who think that this crap is tolerable. Why don't you do something for the program like support them through the tough times rather than sit at home and bitch and attack young athletes playing with hawkeye pride!!!

  • Anonymous

    DI coaches and athletes will be criticized. If Lick and little Lick don't like it, then they need to get out of Division I. Barta crying about it just gave the spoof more attention. If he doesn't like it, he should hire a real Division I coach.

  • Anonymous

    I don't believe that Todd would argue the fact that he is going to be criticized. I also don't believe that Gary Barta is “crying” about it to anyone. He is simply pointing out the fact that it is wrong to exploit an athlete, who in this case happens to be the coaches son. It is ok if it is mentioned during a news cast that someone has a bad game, but to make a video? There is a lot of blame to be spread but I don't think any should be put on players in this fashion.

  • Anonymous

    What I find ironic is that it was the University of Iowa, namely Iowa Football and Learfield Sports, who gave Chris Hassel his first break in the business by letting him call play by play next to Ed Podolak for a quarter of an Iowa football game a few years ago against Minnesota. It was a giant resume builder for Chris, who was in college at the time. And this is how he replays them? By attacking a UI student-athlete? And the letter supporting Chris reads like it was written by his mommy. Give me a break. He crossed the line and he should apologize.

  • Anonymous

    The spoof was criticizing the Iowa basketball program not John.

    But like it or not Division I athletes are criticized all the time. Does anyone recall Jake Christensen?

  • Anonymous

    “the vaunted Iowa Hawkeyes are playing a walk-on who would not have a roster spot on the 12-15 deep for Ames High”

    Hey Moron,

    John Lickliter was a starter on the 2008 State Champion Iowa City High Little Hawkeyes.

  • Jay W.

    skOn a related topic to these, “spoofs” I have a great idea. Report the sports like any other channel. If I want comedy, I will go to the Comedy Channel. I'm sp sick and tired of these guys and there dumb little quotes and skits. Nobody cares about your nonathletic opinion. Report the sports news, not act like a jackass so each of you can get a good laugh at the other, its out of control and I would hope that a professional would look at this as distasteful and know when to grow up. Guess my point is, I DONT CARE ABOUT WHATS BUGGING ANDY, OR HOW FUNNY CHRIS AND THAT OTHER GUY,(CANT EVEN REMEMBER HIS NAME HE'S SO OBNOXIOUS) JUST REPORT THE FREAKIN SPORTS. You show more stupid clips about yourselves then you do local sports and whats really going on. Get a clue!

  • Anonymous

    Jay, the segment aired on SoundOff, which is a wholly seperate show than the news, and is built on differing OPINIONS about sports, funny commentary, etc. You don't have to think it's funny, but you should also note that it's not sports NEWS. That's on at roughly 10:22 Sunday night, and is void of opinion. SoundOff comes after and doesn't have those same parameters. Just, you know, FYI.

  • Jay W

    I was talking about the news. I know SoundOff is separate. But go back and watch, they talk and screw around more then they report what they are paid to do, which is report sports. I recall a new report of the Iowa Speedway's great success and its opening race, and the whole report was about them screwing around on the track and thanking sponsors. Not funny. Didnt even mention the time's, date, events, etc. Just more self promotion of 3 guys who couldnt kick a ball, catch one and maybe thats why they do what they do, because they cant do that either. Anyone can give there opinion, especially when nobody knows who you are anonymous!

  • Nicole

    SoundOff has never presented itself as hard-hitting journalism taking a hard stance on reviewing sports topics. It's an opinion based show; therefore, the announcers and the callers get to air out their opinions. If you don't like the opinions it is simple, turn it off. And those you who say John doesn't deserve this treatment, you are right. He probably doesn’t; however, once the ink was dry on his letter of intent to play college basketball, like it or not, he just put himself out there for the world to love and to judge. It’s the same with the coach and the contract. It has only become worse with these ridiculous, arm-chair quarterback and “if I was coach this is what I would do” forums/blogs. The blogs are lame but it is part of today’s college and professional sports world whether you like it or not.

  • Anonymous

    “The spoof was criticizing the Iowa basketball program not John.”

    That logic was used when fans stated, “we aren't booing McCann. We are booing the decision.”

    It is a cowardly excuse for a cowardly act then, and it is still cowardly now.

    I hope Iowa athletes refuse to speak to WHO-TV reporters.

  • Jay

    NICOLE I WASNT TALKING ABOUT SOUND OFF DUHHHHH READ CAN YOU! WHO REALLY CARES I DONT WATCH THAT STINKIN CHANNEL ANYWAY. NOW GO BAKE SOMETHING!

  • Anonymous

    Not at all surprising to see this type of garbage from WHO.

    That station is staffed by the same kind of slimey, low-life, scum as their network masters.

  • Anonymous

    Saying this happens all the time, they put themselves out there, etc. is just a lousy excuse for kicking someone when they're down. Do you honestly think these players are enjoying the position they're in right now? I'm all for free speech but having the right to do something does not make it the right thing to do. With rights come responsibility, something obviously missing here. Hassel has a lot of growing up to do and when (and if) he ever does, I hope he looks back on this and realizes how wrong it was.

  • Anonymous

    Jay W, if you don't like SoundOff, why don't you just turn the channel? 2008 Iowa City High grad, J. Lickliter might play Junior Varsity for the 2010 Ames High Little Cyclones. And I guarantee that a majority of the people calling for an apology from WHO are also the same a-holes @ Kinnick that screamed for Ricky Stanzi's head every time he threw a poorly timed interception; or booed 18-year old Vandenberg when he was called into action against Northwestern. HYPOCRITES.

  • Anonymous

    No, the guys who were booing stanzi and vandeburg are the same douchers who make videos about a walk on forced into action. The people who were booing were only there just in case the hawks made it to the national championship so they could say that they went to a game that year. They are so wrapped up in thinking that they are involved in the success by being present during the success. Unfortunately these guys are the first to throw stones when things go south. Again, true hawkeye fans do not boo players, they stand behind their team. Although it may be frustrating at times, all you can do is keep supporting the kids and their strong efforts.

  • Anonymous

    Chris Hassel needs to be fired this was so far over the top that is was nothing but cheap shot taken by a gutless coward.
    anytime you take a shot at a father my making fun of his son is completly unaccpetable in any way.
    John Lickliter was a starting point guard on a 4A champion just 2 years ago so for all the people who do not think he could make the Ames Basketball team. I have 2 options for you 1. Sometimes you just have to put the crack pipe down or 2 maybe you should take your head out of your ass and see the sun shine

  • Anonymous

    Mark H
    I find it funny how Iowa Stater Keith Murphy is trying to remove himself from this and point the finger at the young hacks. Have you ever listened to Keith constantly attack U of I? He started the Ames High would be the Hawks chatter which shows his true knowledge of athletics. Gives the scores you are “NOT” a valued opinion contributor with your slants and spoofs.

  • Anonymous

    chris colwell it is hard to understand what you are saying with you lips so hard pressed to keith murphy's ass. makes it sound kind of muffled

  • kdog

    Personally I'd like to know how old Chris is that he doesn't realize that was a mean video!!! Chris and Keith, you really didn't say that, did you? What a bunch of ignorant people that accept that for an answer! Chris, can you really look at yourself in the mirror each morning and like what you see? If that was your son being tossed out there for public ridicule, I wonder which side of the fence you'd be on? Would it still be so funny and would you really not expect an apology from the fool that did it? I'm embarrassed for you and the station. You obviously are a very insecure person and basically not qualified to do your job if you feel the need to call out a 19 or 20 year old for humor! What a waste when there are so many unemployed people that could do a much better job! By not apologizing, it really showcases your station for what it is – I'll let you fill in the blank Chris, as you seem to have a way with words these days!

    I.C. Mom

  • Jay

    I don't think anyone is doing the same as Chris. What is happening is, you have a bunch of people who are tired of 3 smart mouth clowns that think there funny. Big difference on your opinion and a personal attack, if you people can't see that then something is serioulsy wrong. I enjoy Keith and what he does,but I don't need to listen to these other 3 act like immature brats. ITS NOT FUNNY ANYMORE. And for this very reason we choose to change the channel which is sad, because like I said we think Keith does a wonderful job, its a shame the other 3 don't take more pride in what they do. And someone will say they do, and I say if they did they wouldn't be doing some of the shameless skits, and smart ass humor.

  • Anonymous

    Interesting that this part of the original post has been removed:

    “Chris has been off the past two days, and I'm not going to speak for him, but I do know of all the emails and phone calls we've received, both raves and rips, Chris thought the following letter understood what he was trying to do most:

    The fallout from the John Lickliter spoof is a simple case of mis-directed anger and frustration. As an Iowa graduate and super fan, I can say with confidence that our fan base is not used to stinking at any sport. Oh sure, we can miss March Madness or an ocassional bowl berth without a majority of the fan base jumping from the nearest window, just as long as our bunch is competitive. The '09-'10 Iowa Men's Basketball program is an entirely different beast, that honestly, no Hawkeye fan has experienced since the abysmal Iowa football teams of the early 70's. This season, the basketball team isn't merely bad, they are scorched earth, post-nuclear apocalypse bad. Their performance this season makes the description “embarrassing” seem like an upgrade. There is no getting around that fact. The afterglow of a tremendous football season is gone, reality is setting in.

    And while Coach Lickliter and his son John did not ask or expect to be in the position they are in, there's not alot they can do, and I feel true empathy for both of them. My guess is the walk-on status of John was granted simply for the benefit of a quality father-son experience while they are both at Iowa, and that innocent family arrangement has gone very public in an ugly way. John works his butt off, but it is obvious that he is not a Division-1 caliber walk on player, let alone a Big Ten walk-on.

    So when Soundoff, a popular, cutting edge for the area, sports talk show spoofs the situation and brings to light that the vaunted Iowa Hawkeyes are playing a walk-on who would not have a roster spot on the 12-15 deep for Ames High, Hawkeye Nation is at fault not once, but twice. In the fervor to torch WHO sports and the creative, funny show SoundOff, they missed the point of the spoof. It's not John Lickliter's fault that he's out there playing significant minutes, it's THE PROGRAM's fault. THE PROGRAM AS A WHOLE was more of a target than the innocent walk-on who should not even be on the roster. “Look how bad things are in Iowa City, the Hawks have to play the coach's son, who stands 5'8″ and might be the 7th pick in a shirts v. skins game at the Fieldhouse.” Secondly, with this misdirected anger and frustration, they basically BBQ Chris Hassle, a kid who's basically been out of college for 3 years tops, wet behind the ears in the broadcast world. How is a mega-salvo of nasty emails from Iowa fans, young and old, directed at a young sports reporter any different than the spoof that was aimed at the Lickliters and the current state of Iowa basketball? The basic fact is, Iowa basketball, already at rock bottom, just pulled out a shovel to dig a little deeper. And how does Hawkeye Nation handle the truth? By attacking an early 20-something tv reporter and a local sports show that is geared towards light-hearted entertainment and the goofy side of sports.

    Hawkeye Nation, last I checked, two wrongs don't make a right. Buck up and deal.

    Chris Colwell
    West Des Moines
    University of Iowa Class of 1993
    Proud Hawkeye fan for 34 years and counting

    Thank you Chris Colwell, and thanks to you for stopping by.”

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