The Culture of Opinion
Over the last few months I’ve traveled 90 minutes to and from Grand Rapids on a weekly basis. As I started this routine, I turned to the local sports talk radio for my on road entertainment. But within a few trips I grew weary of listening to the callers spouting off with their opinions about local teams, coaching decisions and player performance.
I grew weary because I had just come off of 5 years of coaching middle school and high school sports and I had discovered that there’s much more to coaching decisions than what the average fan sees during a game. I came to appreciate that coaches have significantly more information about their players and their team than any person could conceivably gain just by being a fan.
And what made sports talk radio even more wearisome was simply that most of the callers had so little experience playing or coaching, and none at the highest levels, yet felt they could, with authority, criticize coaches and players. They seemed to ignore the obvious fact that those they criticize have significantly more knowledge, experience and ability than all the callers combined.
Yet this culture of opinion isn’t limited to the world of sports. It’s in every facet of our society including politics and business. So as I listened during those first few trips I realized I no longer want to be filled with a litany of uniformed and inexperienced opinions, instead I need facts and perspective that I can trust, value and act on (such as a good interview with a player or coach). And I also decided I will not be one of those people who criticize others, whether they’re close to me or far off, when I’m not capable of doing any better myself, and when I know I have significantly less information and experience than they do.