There’s A Lesson In Mike Francesa’s Joba-Induced Meltdown

May 29, 2009

I thought long and hard about posting this clip of Mike Francesa’s meltdown from Wednesday’s show. On one hand, I want Fan Interference to be a place free of vacuous mockery. There’s a place for such things on the Internet, but I just don’t want it to be here. On the other hand, I am human, which makes me capable of finding both humor and lessons in high-profile meltdowns.

Ultimately, I decided to post the video because I think it’s a good example of what sports analysis should not be. It should not be two people screaming at each other, equating volume with validity and forcefulness with finality. It should not be hysterical, haughty, and hyperbolic. Most of all, it should not be done with total ignorance of the facts. Different interpretations of facts are expected and necessary for intelligent discussion, but a total failure to acknowledge the facts themselves dooms an argument to a fate like the one seen below. 

My feelings on Joba Chamberlain’s role have been well-chronicled, so obviously I disagree with Francesa on this matter. But for now, my focus isn’t about which side of the argument is right or wrong. Instead, I want to call attention to the perversion of the rules of engagement. When two sides approach an argument in this way – without even the pretense of respect, patience, or consideration – they produce nothing but poisonous animosity. This isn’t limited to sports debates either; it’s no less deleterious when arguing with friends, family, and significant others. Perhaps it’s just me, but I’m convinced that making progress and screaming at each other are mutually exclusive undertakings. And that belief is not up for debate.