Saturday, a female employee of Hog Sports Radio, Renee Gork, had the absolute gall to wear a Florida Gators hat to an Arkansas Razorback press conference. Why did she have the hat on? Because, she says, it was raining outside (Razorback fans deluged me on Twitter to say it was a sunny day … so be it).
If you’re from a provincial SEC town, you already know how this story ends. Gork was fired after her “disloyalty” prompted online searches that uncovered — wait for it — she really is a Florida Gators fan. Oh my God! If radio employees are fans of other sports teams in Arkansas you know what comes next, right? Gay marriage (and maybe not back-to-back Liberty Bowls).
After all, Gork could be a secret agent planted by the duplicitous Urban Meyer. It’s the perfect disguise! Who would ever think that a person wearing a Florida hat would actually be a Florida fan? Bobby Petrino, the multi-millionaire head coach who set the Internet rabble aflame by commenting after answering Gork’s question on Saturday, “And that will be the last question I answer with that hat on,” should be ashamed. For that matter, so should Arkansas fans who called the Hogs when Petrino walked out on his NFL team to slum it in Fayetteville with the SEC’s eighth-best football program. A sojourn in the Ozarks that will last until, you guessed it, he gets a better job offer and bolts town faster than the Wal-Mart heirs built mansions on the coasts.
All you Hog fans who spent your free time researching a reporter’s favorite team because she wore a Gator hat? You’re all hypocrites of the first order. If she showed up tomorrow in a Razorbacks hat and pledged her undying devotion to the university, your athletic department would probably give her a multii-million dollar contract and you’d call the Hogs for her. Hell, wouldn’t be the first time. See: Petrino, Bobby.
And for what? After two years of selling the Razorback fan soul for Petrino, what has it gotten the Arkansas faithful? A 5-11 SEC mark. After three years of selling its soul to Petrino, Arkansas is going to be, at best, 10-14 in the SEC. The ultimate irony about that record? Your dirtbag coach hasn’t even been good enough to become somebody else’s dirtbag coach.
On Monday, the day of her firing, Gork posted this on Twitter: “Was hoping to publicly apologize to Coach Petrino and UA fans on the show today … but I won’t get that chance, I’ve been fired.”
Publicly apologize? For her hat choice at a public university’s press conference? Are you kidding me? Is Arkansas North Korea? (That last question could be seen as rhetorical by those living in other states).
There isn’t any suggestion that Gork’s question was in poor form. Just that she had on a Florida hat and Petrino was peeved. Probably because every time Petrino sees a Gator hat he realizes that he’s forced to coach in northwest Arkansas instead of Florida. Razorback fans massed an Internet campaign — which is more shocking: the firing or this? — and deluged the local radio station that employed Gork with e-mails demanding that she be fired.
As someone who gets his fair share of indignant e-mails from idiots, it’s not like this e-mail campaign was a modern-day version of the Federalist papers. It’s been my experience that fan outrage and correct spelling are mutually exclusive. (Nevertheless, to be fair, a proposition: If someone at the radio station forwards every e-mail that was received, we’ll run a rudimentary intelligence check. If more than half of the actual e-mails contain passable grammar, i.e. subject with a verb, correct distinction between the always complicated “your” and “you’re,” I will donate $500 to the Arkansas general scholarship fund).
In the meantime, the local station’s general manager, Dan Storrs, a modern day Brutus, confirmed the firing with The Associated Press, “This radio station is Hog Sports Radio. We are very biased. We support the Razorbacks 100 percent.”
Just 100 percent?
That won’t do at all, Danny-boy, everybody knows what a pansy you are now. Expect more e-mails. Every true Razorback fan supports the Hogs 110 percent. And to really be safe, everyone knows you should support the Hogs 4 billion percent. With all your clothing worn on every article of your body, underpants included, at all times. In fact, you should be calling the Hogs at church, at school and at your parole hearing. God forbid someone come into this state and root for another team. Of course, that would require that someone not from Arkansas elect to live in Arkansas … a mistake that even fewer people will be making after stories like this. Y’all come back now, just so long as you don’t forget that everyone has to hang a picture of Bobby Petrino on their living room wall. Until, that is, he bolts for somewhere new and everyone stages a public burning of said pictures.
Hell, when the pictures are burned, Gork might get her old job back. She might even get elected Governor on the anti-Petrino ticket. I know one way she’d definitely get elected Governor, if she brought Urban Meyer back to Arkansas with her.
But lost amid the hubbub over Gork’s firing is this larger question: Wouldn’t you rather know that someone was a fan of a rival team instead of them pretending to be completely objective about sports? Doesn’t this make you like them more? It does for me. I immediately trust anyone who is a sports fan more than I do someone who isn’t. That way you know exactly where she’s coming from. Trust her, hate her, at least you know she’s a fan like you. Just because you root for another team doesn’t mean you can’t call it as you see it. The reality is an awful lot of Razorback media aren’t actually Arkansas fans. In fact, it’s not even fandom that’s at issue. Does anything come of this if Gork is wearing a Razorback hat at the press conference?
Of course not.
So don’t make this a matter of ethics for a reporter. All Gork did was wear a hat of another team and give an entire posse of Internet Colombos a chance to uncover that, in essence, she’s exactly like them, a fan of an SEC school. Indeed, by advocating for her firing, all one group of fans did was argue that fans are not to be trusted. Think about this, fans arguing that fans are not to be trusted is a peculiar form of self-loathing. The irony is mind-boggling.
After all, why would an Arkansas fan be so upset by someone else being a fan of another team? Shouldn’t that unite you? If you take off your rose-colored Hog hats for just a moment, shouldn’t you have more respect for someone who happens to root for another team in another community? Wouldn’t you want to take your Arkansas apparel to another state if you moved somewhere for work? Is there anyone on Earth who hasn’t regretted, at some point, their choice of clothing for a work event? Wouldn’t it suck if a person in a position of power called you on your fan allegiance and then publicly humiliated you in front of the entire state? And then on top of the humiliation you were fired?
Sorry, I can’t get that worked up about Renee Gork’s Florida hat because I think her hat tells us a whole lot more about Bobby Petrino, the man whose reaction to a hat made this a national story. I think it says an awful lot more about Petrino than it does about her.
In fact, you can tell a lot by who a person picks his fights with. Say this for the pugilistic Petrino, we know he can outscore a woman wearing a Florida hat in the court of Arkansas Razorback public opinion. If only he could manage it on the field against an actual football team from the Sunshine state. Man, that would be really something.
Until then, if anyone needs to apologize for this mess, it’s Petrino for causing it all.
~Courtesy of Clay Travis~