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The Hate and Vitriol Aimed At Hassel Is Worse Than Anything He Did

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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.


  • Ben

    Kind of ironic that people are personally attacking these guys for supposedly attacking an college athlete. Isn't that a little hypocritial? I can answer that myself. Its the effing definition of hypocrisy!

  • CAMprinc1

    Funny I have no opportunity to watch the video, so how can I evaluate or comment.

    Maybe do a spoof on the individual that did the video. OR find the good J. Lick is doing for the team (or as a student – gasp) and do something positive. Oh that's right, that's not an axiom of journalistic integrity and responsibility. Let's stick to trash talk in the name of freedom of speech.

    If WHO isn't going to apologize, please put the video back up since it must be ok to all of you.

    There's a lot of good going on with most every team that will miss the NCAA/NIT tournaments.

    But that doesn't sell. There's a reason I don't watch Sound Off nor listen to talk sports anymore…

  • Anonymous

    To me, this all really started with the picture the DSM Register had in last Sunday's paper. It showed J Likckliter squeezed between two defenders. It was a less than flattering picture of J Lickliter. I covered the caption with my hand, showed it to my wife (who's not a sports fan) and asked her of her impression of the pic. She said something like “it looks like that little sputterer is having a problem.” When I then told her who it was and the story, she said “ooooh.” I believe, there was a message in that picture. Was there backlash on that Register photo?

    Then, Sunday night I turned on Sound-Off in the middle of Chris Hassell's spoof. I, like Keith, laughed as I cringed. Much like I did with the Register's picture…only harder on both counts.

    The Register's message was discreet and subtle. But, a message nonetheless.

    Hassell's message was more in-your-face, sarcastic humor. And well done, at that. Perfect for Saturday Night Live. If Sound-Off is to be the Weekend Update of sports television journalism, then good job. If thats not how we want our sports delivered, don't watch. I'll keep watching, though.

    It seems there has been a lot of respect for Coach T Lickliter as a person, both in the fan base and in the sports journalism world. His coaching style and his ability to find and keep players to work in his system may be another story. And thats what pays the bills and fills the seats. So, the criticism (and praise) ought to stay professional. Having his son in the mix, certainly blurs the line. But, in my opinion, both media outlets here crossed that blurry line…and made it personal.

    This kinda parallels the relationship between the media and Sarah Palin. But, she's a rising star and Coach T Lickliter is not. Its easier to play along (appear on SNL, joke with it, etc.) when you're winning and there's “buzz” in it for you and you can use it to your advantage. Smart move if you can pull it off. When you're losing, not so…not much to use.

    So, Coach T Lickliter, if you want to stop this, start winning.

    Sarah Palin, if you want to stop this, get some substance behind those sparkly eyes and smile.

    As for the media, you'll stop (reduce) their – and their supporters' – whining if you stick to the facts, not take/make it personal. Unless you want to be the Sean Meyers or Jon Stewart of the news (sports) world. There is a place for that and there is nothing wrong with that…above the belt.

    In my opinion, this wast “juuuust under” (or “inside” as Bob Eucker would say).

  • Anonymous

    Not to hate on Hassel anymore than he already has been, but this video was merely an act of douchebaggery, just as the Cyclone kick to the stones video was. Kid either has some growing up to do or is tone deaf as to what is acceptable to put on air. By the way, I think most people get the difference between a piece aired on the newscast vs. aired on Sound-off. This was about all I heard on your radio show as a defense, but I think most people get that.
    Is there anywhere to view the Stanzi video that Dale Woods brought up? Nice that he brings that up as a defense, yet no one can view it anywhere to compare the context.

  • Anonymous

    Keith – My question is why would you let Hassel put ANYTHING on the air without you or someone else in “authority” view it first? Totally irresponsible on your part. And now you want us to feel sorry for poor little Chris because he's getting hate mail? If he can't take it then he shouldn't dish it out. What, you didn't think true Hawk fans would be offended??? No matter how hard you and your GM try to spin it, it was a mean-spirited cheap shot on a coach and his kid who are trying their hardest to win. I hope your kid is never the target of such a public “spoof.” Way to support your local team. Shame on all of you.

  • benronhall

    Just watched the spoof and thought it was real funny. I love the spoofs that Hassel does! They are real funny and entertaining. People need to ease off and have a sense of humor. Geesh!

  • Anonymous

    Everyone that has commented that the “spoof” was “funny” would see it totally different if it was their own kid that was being ridiculed. Put yourself in that kid's shoes and then think how you would feel. Or put yourself in his dad's shoes. Still think it would be “funny” to be publicly ridiculed and humiliated on TV?

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