[UPDATE: We almost never bump up stories, especially ones that are only a day or two old, but Keith Murphy graciously returned our email asking for more information on the airing of this ad. It's only fair to bring that to equal attention. The statement is posted in full below, after the jump. (SPOILER: He calls you all stupid-headed ninnymuffins.) (DOUBLE SPOILER: No he does not.)]
As frequent readers of BHGP know, we're always happy whenever the guys at Sports Sound-Off at WHO put out a new fake video; the previous iterations were of the Fake Gary Dolphin/Ed Podolak variety for the UNI and PSU games. Good times had by all.
But this past weekend, they aired one that didn't quite strike the same chord in terms of subject, tone, or, um, non-dickishness. Observe:
Now, okay look. We're on record as having a problem with the "Li'l Lick" nickname, because it's weird and gross (Li'l John, guys, please), but fine, whatever. Change isn't instantaneous, and at least they made a joke with the Lick thing. Fine.
That aside, though, what the hell is that about? Not to go all Sioux City Journal on everyone, but is this really something that John Lickliter deserves? He's a freaking walk-on who's only playing because there's just about literally nobody else at point guard (we maintain that Nick Neari is fictional). Even Coach Dad acknowledges there's some struggle to look forward to there:
"John has a very good understanding of how to compete. The negatives on him are, he's my offspring, so he's not a good athlete, and he doesn't have good size. But he is able to make good plays in spite of that."
That's hardly the type of rah-rah cheerleader dad stuff the video references. We get that that part was a joke, but satire has to have a ring of truth to it, otherwise it's just tone-deaf; the last thing Lickliter's done is try to tell fans that Li'l John's a really good player. He won't insult his son or anything, but everyone knows the limitations here. Further--wait, Mike Gundy, you had something to say on the matter?
We've said before that the ideal situation for Lickliter is to spend four years on the bench next to his dad, never playing a single (meaningful) minute, and we suspect the sentiment was largely the same among the Lickliters Younger and Elder. Mainly the Elder.
This isn't quite as distasteful as the student section booing Adam Shada or Kyle McCann; that's direct disrespect from fellow students on the field of play, and that's just plain unconscionable. This is still bad, but in a different way--mainly, that it comes via a MSM organization. We realize Sound-Off NOT EQUALS the evening news broadcast, but Keith Murphy's still Keith Murphy; if Kirk Ferentz started spewing racial slurs during his weekly show with Dolph, we wouldn't accept "but I wasn't coaching at the time so you can't discipline me as coach" as an acceptable excuse, after all. We're not saying that Murphy should be fired or anything--that's total overreactionary bullcrap that we need to get away from--but someone who leads a media organization's sports coverage really should know better.
Look, just like we said about Cougill last month, John Lickliter is a grown-up, and it's not our job to shield him from a cruel world or whatever. That doesn't change the fact that WHO launched a pretty cheap shot at a guy who certainly doesn't deserve it, and we hope they show a little better judgment when it comes to choosing players to (I hate this word but whatever) spoof.
UPDATE: Here's, in full, what Keith Murphy told us in an email this afternoon:
I appreciate you taking the time to write and ask for my opinion on Chris Hassel's spoof Sunday night.
I will tell you that the Lickliter piece also made me uncomfortable. Had I seen it before it aired, I would have asked for changes. (Chris likes his taped pieces to air as we see them for the first time so that our on-air reaction is honest. We will re-think this.) I thought the Liclkliter spoof went over the line. However, the segment should not be confused, as you rightly point out, with journalism or a report in one of our Emmy award-winning newscasts. It's SoundOFF, a sports and entertainment show featuring strong opinion, passionate viewer feedback, and hopefully, a few laughs.
Again, I did not care for the target of the Lickliter spoof, but I'm glad we have such a popular forum for dissenting views and opinions. I have been stunned how popular the segment was and how many people loved it. I'm also aware of the many people who did not care for it. Satire is highly subjective. What's over the line for someone often depends on their biases and views going in. Humor, as you no doubt know, also often takes on a slight tone of mean-spiritedness. The line to not cross mostly depends whom you ask.
When Chris told me the general idea of his latest spoof, my advice was to "make sure it doesn't come across as mean toward John. He's just a kid doing his best." Chris didn't think it was mean. I know he feels bad that he offended (some) people. I don't agree with the content or message of What's Bugging Andy each week, and I don't agree with everything Chris Hassel does or says, but I will passionately stand by their right to say it. (We are fortunate to have bosses who feel the same way.)
Thank you for your time and consideration. We appreciate you watching.
That's certainly a fair and acceptable response. Hope there's an apology waiting for John Lickliter in next week's episode, then we can be done with this silly shit. That's all.