It's a lonely job, but somebody's gotta do it... for ten years.
It's a safe bet that I won't be getting too many Christmas cards from Indianapolis Star columnist Bob Kravitz in the near or distant future.
I'm often not a fan of his writing, and I think that his opinions are no more informed than yours, mine, or that guy standing next to you in line for coffee at McDonalds. The difference is that, unlike you and me, Bob is paid very well to write that opinion. Much like my rants against Peter King, I've often shouted to the heavens "WHY?" when I ponder the reasoning behind paying Bob Kravitz for his opinion.
But, despite my dislike of Bob's pontifications on things relating to the Colts, Pacers, college, high school, or anything else that involves a ball, athletes, and a scoreboard, I do respect his longevity in a business that, quite frankly, burns people out early.
Recently, Bob posted an article recapping his best memories after ten years working at the Indianapolis Star.
Ten years? Really? Seems like 100. With all the angry rants and tirades Bob and I have thrown back and forth with each other, I'd have thought this marriage of Kravitz-Star was as long and painful as Inquisition-Spain. Ten years doesn't seem that long. It just feels longer.
It's worth noting that since Kravtiz's arrival as chief
@sshole sports columnist at the Star, some pretty impressive and amazing things have happened in the Hoosier sports arena. Like many of us, Bob has been right there, observing and articulating the sports events that have shaped a generation of Indiana fans.
The Pacers-Pistons Brawl
IU firing Bob Knight
The Colts winning the Super Bowl
Butler v. Duke
All are stark, vivid events that will burn hard in our collective sports consciousness for years to come. One of the more interesting nuggets from Kravitz's walk down memory lane is recalling what transpired last year immediately after the infamous Week 16 fiasco perpetrated by the Colts against their fans:
6. The Punting of the Perfect Season.
The crazy thing is, Colts president Bill "Parallel Universe" Polian still believes the outrage over the decision was inspired by my columns and Phillip B. Wilson's game-day chats. Maybe he didn't hear the booing during that Jets game. Maybe he wasn't aware that some of his employees were so fearful of incurring the fans' wrath, they took off their Colts' ID tags as they left Lucas Oil Stadium that day.
Truth was, the population was outraged long before I made a single keystroke.
If Kravitz's is correct, Bill Polian is probably one of the most deluded men ever to work in the state of Indiana. If the 60,000 people booing Jim Caldwell didn't give ole Bill the hint that benching starters in a home game that meant something to the fans was not a good idea, I think the guy has serious mental issues. I also find it kind of insulting that Polian would think that the reason fans were mad was because Bob Kravitz told us to be mad.
Seriously, are we sheep to this guy?
Realistically, I don't think Polian truly feels that outlets like the Star or Stampede Blue were the reasons there was such strong fan outrage following Week 16. I think he knows he made a mistake in communicating the team's intentions, but instead of owning up to that mistake he simply lashed out at the people who spoke up the loudest.
It's childish. It's brutish. It's immature. Such is Bill Polian in his relations with the media.
But, certain people can't own up to their screw-ups. They think it makes them look weak, when the truth is the failure to admit weakness is in and of itself a sign of weakness. Maybe one day Bill Polian will understand that. I think he will. The man is a genius after all.
For me, I applauded the Star for taking a strong stand against benching starters in Week 16. I applauded Bob in particular not just for his opinion on that issue, but also his stand on the Kelvin Sampson hiring at IU. Surely he incurred the wrath of some rather blind and idiotic IU fans for denouncing Sampson's hiring, but where are those fans now? Likely, they aren't owing up to their silly, mindless adoration for IU's "wisdom" in their basketball head coaching decisions.
There is often a mentality in Indiana that tells fans that "the powers that be" know best, and that you should just shut up and cheer while letting "the adults" do their jobs. It's a poisonous mentality born out of never challenging Bob Knight for his gross unprofessionalism at IU or Bill Polian for his bullying nature towards journalists and fans. For many, these men simply "win," and that is all that matters.
Truth is, winning isn't the only thing that matters. How you win, and how you conduct yourself, matter more. The man who finally taught Bill Polian how to win, and who has eclipsed Bob Knight as Indiana's favorite coach, preaches this dogma. He also preaches being Uncommon, and leading from the front. His name is Tony Dungy, and part of leading from the front is not being afraid to speak your mind.
While I will never confuse Bob Kravitz as someone who leads from the front, he is someone who speaks his mind. He also writes it down, posts it out into the world, and then deals with fallout afterward. He makes himself accountable; puts himself out there. I don't always agree with him, but at least he does it. Most people are too afraid, preferring to defer to the "wisdom of the town elders." Bob doesn't. He doesn't just passively sit back and accept things as they are. He questions them. Looks for holes in them. Tries to hold them accountable.
If there is a role for people like me to play in this circus, it's to hold both the town elders and their critics accountable. Your role is to hold me accountable. This way, no one gets a free ride on the Ferris Wheel.
To Bob, I wish him happy ten years. Let's see if you got the guts to stay on the ride for ten more. I think you do.