%PM, %07 %249 %2012 %21:%Dec

The death of the "Fanalyst"

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"And once you’ve crossed that line, no amount of pandering to the actual fans will bring you back. You won’t convince the guy who just spent $28 on four beers that the lunch spread in the Mile High press box makes that media member just like him."

The South Stands heralded the advent of the “fanalyst” a few months back and now we’re going to quietly bury it in the backyard next to the pets and the compost pile. Media members all over the city of Denver are taking full advantage of their sports access while claiming to be a fan just like you. Don’t be fooled. They are not like you and some of their recent behavior has shined an awkward light on the desperate need for objectivity in the Denver sports media.

A “fanalyst” is the media member who claims to be “a fan with a mic.” Most often a radio personality, the “fanalyst” clings to his or her sports allegiances and steers clear of fully committing to becoming a card carrying journalist. It’s easier that way. But with the fiasco that broke out amid the firing of CU coach John Embree, and the subsequent fallout from the equally ridiculous Butch Jones hiring debacle, the “fanalyst” is officially dead. And while Denver sports media members have chosen their side as soon as they picked up that microphone, they just don’t realize it yet.

The end for the “fanalyst” was near when so many ex-CU players - who are also media members - got their collective panties in a twist after Embree was fired. Many of them pushed for his hire and most went from well respected radio hosts to mewling crybabies in a matter of hours. And if they had any interest in retaining their media credibility, they would have handled it in a much more professional manner instead of lamenting the decision like a pampered insider.

And that’s where the “fanalyst” met its end. Most of these guys claim they are not media members at all but are “fans” that just happen to be on the radio/tv and talk to professional players on a daily basis. It’s cute, but no one really buys it anymore since the line was more than crossed with the Embree temper tantrum. Once one of these “fans with a mic” has attended a press conference or has been to a non-training camp practice at Dove Valley, they’ve traded in their “fan” card for a press pass. Objectivity should not only be expected at this point, it’s required. And once you’ve crossed that line, no amount of pandering to the actual fans will bring you back. You won’t convince the guy who just spent $28 on four beers that the lunch spread in the Mile High press box makes that media member just like him.

Dario Correa aka D in Denver (@DnDenver) from the Mile High Sports Denver Sports Nation show (Saturdays & Sundays on FM 93.7 from 2pm-4pm) may be an exception who can give us some insight into the matter. Correa went from being one of Denver’s biggest sports fans to full-fledged media member in the blink of an eye. He was a frequent caller to sports talk radio stations, started a blog, became a dedicated podcaster and then got a shot to be a terrestrial radio talk show host. Suddenly, a fan who was on the outside a few months prior, was now sitting in at Dove Valley listening to Peyton Manning speak and it was a hell of a ride.

“It was a dream come true,” Correa said regarding his rise from sports fan to sports pundit. “I was a 19 year old when I realized I would not play in the NBA so I told myself back then that if I couldn't play, that one day I would be involved somehow.” And while Correa may get to see the games while rubbing elbows with Brando Spano and Les Shapiro, he was quick to point out there are drawbacks: “Not cheering at the games,” he said, in reference to the old sports journalism adage that you don’t play favorites when you’re at a game as a media member. A cruel irony for the hard-core sports fan that now gets to see games for free.

But does taking that first bite of a hot dog from a steamer tray in the Coors Field press box take away your fan card? Correa was adamant it does not. “Hell no!” he said. “The reason I did this is because I am a fan and I am not ashamed to show my fan-Hood on the air. Having the access to these guys just gives me more insider info and knowledge.” Still, an athlete turned media member or blogger turned journalist owes the fans a certain level of objectivity once you’ve been granted access. Correa agreed. “You have to be objective but I believe that you owe it to your listeners to say what’s on your mind,” he said. “And if you think George Karl gets a free pass for what he has overcome, do not be afraid to say it on the air.”

There’s obviously a difference between what Nuggets beat writer Benjamin Hochman can say about George Karl and what Correa can say. Radio hosts are paid to have opinions while beat writers are there to report the facts. But when the “fan with a mic” defense is used by someone who is clearly a media member, it’s a bit insulting for all concerned. And the ever continuing CU saga is casting a pall over this. Ex Buffs like Joel Klatt and Alfred Williams can’t keep their emotions in check to cover the story objectively and should recuse themselves from further analysis. They may cry foul at that, but it’s the only way to ensure proper perspective. Correa isn’t buying that however. “For all the people out there that think you cannot be a fan and still remain objective I got one thing to say to all of you: See you in New Orleans.” Objectivity indeed.

Tell that to Joel Klatt because it may depend on how far removed you are from being a fan. While Correa is new to the game, Klatt has been involved in the media side for some time. And as he erupts over something CU related, are we supposed to take him seriously when he keeps quiet about (his other employer) the Colorado Rockies? It’s convenient that objectivity rears its head on a case by case basis.

There may be no cheering in the press box, but plenty of Denver sports media members are making their opinions known outside those confines. It’s probably in their job description to be passionate, but emotions should never factor in. We appreciate the honesty but if you have a laminated press pass with your picture on it, pretending to be a fan may have to buried in the yard with the pets and the compost pile as well. 

John Reidy

I never really liked sports until I had a religious conversion when the Broncos lost to the 49ers in that one Super Bowl. Now I'm obsessed with all aspects of the Denver pro sports world. Oh yeah, hate college football. And I used to write a column for AV Club Denver but now am a full time contributor to this here site.

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