Satire and sarcasm are weapons not to be ignored in a sports writer’s quest to produce commentary. The worst way to use these gimmicks, in my opinion, is to actually state that it is satire or sarcasm.
You throw out something preposterous, and expect readers to say, “That can’t be true,’’ and then everyone has a chuckle.
A new and wonderful element in the communication of satire and sarcasm arrived a few years back with Twitter. It can rapidly pass along snippets of actual information, but a case could be made that it was created as a vehicle for satire and sarcasm.
That’s the way I see it, anyway. I use Twitter regularly – 35,500 Tweets is the current count – and apply the same standard for satire and sarcasm in those 140 characters as in a sports column:
Offer up something preposterous and let the readers say, “That can’t be true,’’ and then everyone has a chuckle.
There’s another factor in Twitter: followers.
Basically, when I send out a Tweet, it’s intended for those followers … and with the assumption that the regulars know the bit.
Back on Jan. 6, 2013, Tubby’s Gophers were playing Northwestern at Williams Arena. The Gophers were highly rated, but the teams plowed through a first half of frightening ineptitude.
My commentary on that was to send out this Tweet: “Tyus Jones & Rashad Vaughn both announced at halftime that University of Minnesota is off their lists.’’
This fit my personal requirement as to be so preposterous to be not true. I assumed 90% of those followers who saw it would take it as a rip at the Gophers’ first half and have a chuckle.
As it turned out, this was passed around to non-followers who might not have been aware of what had taken place at Williams Arena in the first half, and they took it at a face value.
People who could read this and actually believe Tyus and Rashad had coordinated a joint announcement at halftime of not attending the big hometown school … they have my sympathy.
The sarcastic Tweet did get passed around enough that Tyus felt obliged to send me this on Twitter: “You have incorrect information, sir …’’
My response was, “Thank, god. You weren’t watching.’’
Tubby was fired after that season. Richard Pitino was hired. Jones went to Duke, Vaughn went to UNLV, and now both are one-and-done first-rounders headed for the NBA.
I’ve used Twitter to poke considerable fun at the idea young Pitino was a hot item for schools looking for a new coach. The satirical Tweets on this started in the spring of 2014.
Those Tweets have been merciless ever since the Pitino camp (led by his father) passed along the phony-baloney information this spring that Richard was a leading contender for the Alabama job.
So, I’ve had him going everywhere on Twitter. And if a job opens and I don’t immediately send out a Tweet linking young Richard to that position, I have followers who remind me to do so.
Louisiana Tech. Murray State. Georgia State. And, of course, Iowa State. A couple of NBA jobs. A couple of NFL jobs. Richard was at the top of the list at all those places, at least in my Twitter feed.
It’s Twitter. It’s preposterous. It’s worth a chuckle.
A big story on Monday was that Wisconsin’s coaching legend, Bo Ryan, would lead the Badgers for one more season and then retire.
We were in the production room for the daily radio show when my colleague, Cory Roufs, reminded me that I had not yet linked Pitino to the Wisconsin opening.
I slapped myself upside the head for such an oversight and then sent out a Tweet, “SOURCE: Alvarez targeting Richard Pitino as replacement for Bo Ryan in 2016.’’
Anyone who has been involved in Twitter byplay with me for the past year would have chuckled over this. Everyone else should have said, “Why in Hades would Barry Alvarez be interested in a coach coming off a lousy season?’’ They should have said, “That can’t be true,’’ and joined in the chuckle.
Pitino to Wisconsin. Sorry. This reached my threshold for obvious satire and/or sarcasm. I can’t be responsible for non-followers who took it seriously.