A couple of hours ago I had the great displeasure of reading John Steigerwald’s latest column for the Observer-Reporter, a daily newspaper based out of middle-of-nowhere Pennsylvania. Before today I’d never heard of John, which isn’t stated as an insult. There are many writers I’ve never heard of, and many writers who have never heard of me.
Anyhow, John’s column, titled KNOW WHEN YOU’VE OUTGROWN THE UNIFORM, is about the recent incident in Los Angeles, when a couple od Dodger fans spotted a guy in a Giants’ jersey and pummeled him. The general reaction across the sports landscape was shock—Who would do this sort of thing? It’s only sports. Etc.
John’s take, however, was a tad, ahem different. He bashed adult fans who wear jerseys. Adult fans like, ahem, the man in the Giants’ duds. Writes John: “Maybe it’s time sports fans grow up. … Are there really 40-something men who think that wearing the jersey makes them part of the team? It was cute when a 10-year-old kid got that feeling by showing up at Three Rivers Stadium in a Pirates jersey, but when did little boys stop growing out of that?”
In short, John sort of … eh … uh … blames the guy for wearing a Giants’ jersey to Dodger Stadium. It was his fault. He was asking for it. What an idiot. What a fool.
As soon as I learned of the piece, I felt bad for, of all people, the author. Writers make mistakes. Writers misfire. I was certain the reaction to the column would be (rightly) fierce, and indeed, it has been. Do this long enough, you make mistakes. Even mistakes like this. Once, when I was a young Tennessean scribe on the crime beat, I literally led a prostitution sting story with, “All John Smith wanted was a blow job.” Bad judgement.
But just when I was preparing to e-mail John some supportive words, I checked out his blog. Which is, well, terrible (and very spoof-like, beginning with John—a man who makes fun of jersey-wearers, photographed in what appears to be an Adidas running suit). But not merely terrible—it’s Bayless-esque. “Warning: No punches pulled here …” it reads, alongside the tag, “Sports, Politics, Opinions and Rabble Rousing.”
That’s when it hit me: John Steigerwald is loving this shit right now.
Which is sad. Because he—and his editor—should be humiliated.