There is plenty to dislike about Bucky Gleason’s latest column if you look for it. In fact, it’s downright insulting if you really try. If I were so inclined to go through this FJM-style I would, but that’s not why I mention it. The reason this post exists at all is because in some ways I agree with what Bucky Gleason is trying to get at. Trust me, it’s an interesting feeling to say the least. I’m working on it.
However, as usual Gleason goes over the line with his arguments in a distinct effort to belittle his audience. It’s a nasty habit that doesn’t help drive his point home at all. In fact, it turns off the reader to the point that most people fail to even consider what he is trying to say.
Let’s face it: Bucky Gleason is a good writer with a lot of hockey knowledge. He knows the subject he writes about and clearly has talent. He is qualified for his job, yet where he fails as a columnist is in connecting with his readers. His opinions are written in a “told you so” manner that simply turns many readers off. Gleason is, whether justly or not, perceived as an arrogant writer.
With this column in particular he uses a very convenient argument: it’s the fault of the readers. The fan. It is the classic argument from authority: I cannot be wrong because I am the columnist. Bucky Gleason wants the general manager of the Buffalo Sabres fired. Darcy Regier is to blame for the Sabres’ performance this season, and so he should go.
But it doesn’t happen, and so someone else must be to blame. Obviously the next target is the fans. Their loyalty failed to create the proper climate for a general manager to get fired, and so they are to blame as well. As we all know, Bucky Gleason is not a “fan” and therefore cannot be to blame. Gleason doesn’t pay for a ticket to see this team, it’s his job.
What’s unfortunate is that this arrogant stance hides the truth in Bucky’s column: we are held hostage by our sports teams. This is true, if we don’t pay for the seats these teams will eventually leave. That’s the modern business model, and I think as fans we are smart enough to understand all this. We’ve watched Seattle lose a basketball team, and we’re skeptical at best of the slow crawl to Toronto. We know what’s at stake here, and we proceed with caution.
Here is the second act of arrogance in Gleason’s work. He assumes that we are unaware of this Catch-22. This “state of our teams” is hidden to us feeble Buffalonians, and we need Gleason to point this out while simultaneously demeaning our devotion to these teams. Without Bucky’s noble pen we are oblivious to the mediocrity we are subject to as Buffalo sports fans.
I think Kevin said it best: Bucky Gleason writes as if his audience needs to be scolded like schoolchildren. We are unaware of the impact our voice could have, and we need Bucky to perk us up and lead the school choir. With liner notes filled with monologues about the changing landscape of sports, Bucky will lead us on the true path.
But here’s the truth: Bucky Gleason doesn’t understand us anymore. He’s clear to distance himself from the “fans,” and so he has no right to tell us just how thick our backbones are, or the tint of our collars. He is well beyond us, and has no gauge of our intelligence or motives for sitting in those seats.
Just like we speculate about his motives for sitting in the press box, he blindly reasons that we don’t understand our contribution to the business of sports. If only we knew what we were doing by filling those sections. If only we valued the “experience” less and the “product” more. If only we could free ourselves from the clutches of public relations and marketing campaigns.
Now speculation makes for great columns, but the disconnect between Gleason and the fans has never been more clear. The hometown he calls “soft” has raised the concerns he addresses over and over again. Both on this site and in many other places we have questioned what we deal with as fans and just what we can do about it. The fans get it, and have had it for quite some time nw.
Bucky Gleason doesn’t need to see any of that to know what the fans are saying because they need him. Without Gleason’s required reading we would remain oblivious to what is going on around us. How can we criticize the Jason Peters trade without knowing we’ve lost our “bark?” How can we criticize the Sabres when season ticket renewal stands at 80%?
What he doesn’t understand is that most of us are big boys and girls who know what we’re doing when we buy tickets. We are not one mob with one voice and one opinion. Everyone involved in this thinks differently about who should be fired and what should happen with this team. We are fans. Plural. And within this group is an endless combination of skins and voices.
When I see that building coming down I don’t think of my own hollowness. But what do I know, I’m just a fan.