I considered posting some of the vitriol that continues coming in to the TV station, but it makes me sad and ashamed. It is, at best, the definition of overreaction, and at worst, displaced anger.
Though I thought Chris Hassel’s movie preview lampoon on SoundOFF was directed too much at one player, I did chuckle before cringing. Had I watched it first, I would have asked for changes. There is a difference between standing up for the what someone said, and standing up for someone’s right to say it. I understand some fans forgetting this, but anyone in the media shouldn’t need the reminder.
Some of the personal attacks on Chris Hassel, here and elsewhere, are as bad, if not worse, than anything he did. It’s sad that the hypocrisy goes unnoticed by those who dish it.
We now have many people, including some from the U of I, commenting at length on a satirical video they haven’t even seen. Criticism usually requires familiarity and context. It’s not too much to ask. The past 48 hours, curiosity has gotten people. Many who read the newspaper stories and message boards felt compelled to finally watch the video. A frequent reaction: “That’s it? That’s what all this fuss is about?” Others want Chris fired, homeless, and miserable. I’m not exaggerating. I’ve had people wish humiliation for my kids. Not one of my children has reached the adult age of 20.
It’s sad to see an excuse for a frustrated feeding frenzy. We’re better than this. Or we should be.
Though WHO-TV President Dale Woods appreciated Gary Barta’s request for an apology on behalf of the station, Dale respectfully declined. However, as Dale and I have both pointed out, if Chris chooses to apologize to John Lickliter, Todd Lickliter, or anyone else, Chris has our full support. If he does apologize to John or Todd, I hope he does it privately. An apology should come from one’s conscience, not his desire for good PR. We’ve already had enough grandstanding on this. The last thing the world needs is an insincere public apology.
(By the way, I respect Barta’s apology request, though it did give a dying story new life, and turned more attention than ever to the failing Iowa basketball program. I also appreciated Todd’s general reaction as a proctective father and coach, though he was going on hearsay.)
I do know Chris did not set out to embarrass John Lickliter. Chris realizes some took it that way and feels bad about it. He also knows some people did understand and appreciate his basic premise for the movie satire: What if Rudy had to play more than half the game, and there was no happy ending? Chris’ actual target was Todd Lickliter’s program, not John Lickliter’s shortcomings. As our GM pointed out, no Hawkeye fans complained when Chris did a spoof of Ricky Stanzi throwing interceptions for touchdowns because the football team was winning, and Stanzi doesn’t look out of place. (Ask yourself, would people be this upset if the player in the video was Jarryd Cole?)
For those of you with honest, thoughtful, constructive criticism, like that which I tried to give Chris, I sincerely thank you. For the rest, I hope you’ll consider that you are now doing exactly what you’re accusing Chris of doing.
We have also had unprecedented calls and emails of support. I’ll confess that I spend less time chewing on these than the anonymous hate, and that’s just wrong. I’ve learned a lot this week, and not all of it makes me feel good.
Thank you for your time.