Viewpoint

Sorry, Bo – in this case, you don’t really know

“Bo Knows” baseball and football and maybe even hockey, but he doesn’t know Diddley about The Arena.

Former NFL, Major League Baseball, and iconic commercials star Bo Jackson was in town last week. He’s a friend of Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. On the heels of Cam’s big new contract, Jackson was playing in Newton’s charity kickball tournament. He also played defense against any who would question Newton’s worthiness as a “One Hundred Three Million Dollar Man.”

“Those are haters,” Jackson told a gaggle of reporters. “Those people that are poking holes in his game – come put on a uniform and try to do what he does,” Jackson said.

“It’s easy to sit there on your sofa and drink a beer and eat peanuts and criticize somebody,” Jackson scolded. “Get your lazy a-- up and ... try to play. End of story.”

Not quite the end of the story, Bo. You may be ESPN’s “Greatest Athlete of All-Time,” but you have some things to learn about fans’ (or even the media’s) right to spout off.

First, about that get-out-there-and-do-it-yourself bit. It sounds legit on the surface and is readily and deftly used by the challenged to shut down their challengers in the worlds of sports, business, entertainment, and politics. But it’s just a clever dodge.

I don’t have to run a presidential campaign to say Mitt Romney’s was a flop. I don’t have to make an Academy Award-winning movie to know “Water World” was a mess. And I don’t have to be able to read a defense, find the open receiver, and hit him on the numbers as well as an NFL quarterback to tell if he struggles at times.

As for those lazy, sofa-sitting, beer-swilling, peanut-poppers – those are the people who pay Cam’s salary, Bo. Those are the people watching games in numbers large enough that advertisers shell out billions of dollars to persuade them to pop their peanuts, swill their beer, and sit on their sofas.

They pay your salary too, Bo. They’re the same people to whom you’ve pitched Five-Hour Energy Drinks, video games, and your famous Nikes.

You make your living in The Arena, Bo. Athletes, entertainers, politicians, big-time CEOs – you’re all in the Center Ring.

You’re there because you choose to be. No one’s forcing you. You like the money, celebrity, freedom, and perks, and I don’t blame you one bit. I freely choose to be in the center of a ring myself, albeit in a smaller arena.

The people on the sofas have every right to cheer and jeer to their hearts’ and wallets’ content. The people in The Arena have to take the jeers along with the cheers for their performance, whether or not those jeering can do it themselves.

The only sound you don’t want to hear in The Arena, Bo? The sound of silence.

Keith Larson is the mid-morning host for WBT-AM (1110 AM).

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