Paul Daugherty, Retire
I know I just wrote a post on The Post about how we should all be friends and civil and just have fun here, but sometimes a guy just asks you to drink his milkshake. And yesterday, that guy was Paul Daugherty.
So what did “Doc” do now? Well, he participated in a Western & Southern Open press conference with Naomi Osaka, and he showed the world his ass. In a time when athletes like Simone Biles, Christian Pulisic, DeMar DeRozan, and others are making headlines and changing lives by opening up about their struggles with mental health, Paul Daugherty was brave enough toask Osaka another question: Why don’t you just suck it up?*
*At the time of writing, I don’t know the exact wording of Paul’s question, so I’m paraphrasing based on available information.
I get that it was a Zoom call, but read the room, man.
There’s certainly a debate to be had about the changing sports media landscape; about how to strike the balance between the fans, media, and athletes; and about how to maintain a competitive level (which, for what it’s worth, Osaka and the like have no apparent trouble maintaining) while recognizing that the people competing are nonetheless human.
This is not that column.
There is also plenty to ponder about how a certain type of columnist—the “no-nonsense,” “tell-it-like-it-is,” “not here to make friends” type—is struggling with writing about a generation of athlete that they cannot begin to relate to. And how this struggle might be a microcosm of generational struggles taking place elsewhere—the workplace, the military, politics, and elsewhere.
But this is not that column.
This is, plain and simple, a hit piece, designed to deliver a simple message: Paul Daugherty, retire.
It’s About Ethics in Sports Journalism
The Osaka thing comes at an opportune time for yours truly, as I had my own beef with Daugherty last week.
On August 11, Doc published a “TML” where he made the argument that a bit of the sheen was wearing off on The FC, due to dwindling attendance numbers:
Anyone who has been paying attention to The FC notices an obvious problem: What “acres of empty seats”? Sure, the first two games had COVID-capped attendance, but the stadium has been basically full since then.
And it turns out, even taking the COVID-capped attendance into account, Doc’s average attendance above is simply wrong. Which is why he secretly changed his column:
To this day, there is no note that he corrected his attendance figures from a previous version of the column. (You can find the previous version of the column on the Wayback Machine.) That’s, uh, not good!
But this is more than just a “gotcha.” With the updated attendance figures, Daugherty’s argument falls apart completely. He makes the insightful observation that the FC went from third-highest attendance in MLS in 2019 to the… third-highest attendance in MLS in 2021. And that is used as evidence that “the local love affair with pro soccer isn’t as durable as we believed.” The only conclusion supported by the above is that Doc is incapable of changing his conclusion based on corrected evidence.
When you take out the COVID games, the average attendance is 24,618. (Thanks to Gary Not-the-FCC-Lion for doing the math for me.) That number is close enough to the previous attendance figures to be explained by a number of factors: Such as smaller stadium capacity, more expensive tickets, and lingering hesitancy to brave large crowds in a still-active COVID environment.
Paul Daugherty: What the f*** is this edition
I’m not sure what he was trying to get across with this muddled mess. That FC Cincinnati’s name puts the city first and that’s… bad?
Here, Doc is criticizing the trend of calling soccer teams City FC, or whatever, and invoking “Latinx” here means he meant to use the word “gay” but knows he couldn’t get away with that in 2021.
Yeah, dude, that sucks. Either Doc has never thought about soccer before or he wants to move MLS to the Euro schedule. No one tell him about pro/rel.
How, exactly, does that bring us back to team names? Didn’t they teach you about segues in writer school?
(And yeah, July 2019 sucked.)
As a soccer knower, this reference to a “Diego Maradona cross off his nose” makes sense to me.
He… doesn’t? “Yeah, OK, I understand what you’re saying, but what about this other thing that annoys me that you don’t have anything todo with?”
I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that the first sentence there is not actually phrased as a question. As to the rest of it, I don’t really see the logical connection between the lack of a nickname and the fact that soccer players come from different countries. But, I don’t know, maybe you could compensate for the lack of a geographic connection with the players by, maybe, centering the geographic connection between the fans and the team? By highlighting the name of the city in the name?
But I don’t know. I don’t have a fancy media job that pays me for thinking good.
Dude you already made that joke and it wasn’t good the first time.
The absolute winning marketing strategy is to alienate the thousands of diehard fans who spend thousands of dollars a year on the team in order to appeal to a group of people who, you admit, “might never go to a match anyway.” Nailed it, Paul.
Yeah, man. The way to appeal to the “element” in Cincinnati that hates soccer the most is by calling the name the Cincinnati All Blacks.
A Foolish Consistency
But the attendance observation above is not the only evidence of Doc’s tendency to start from a conclusion and simply work backward. In fact, he received national attention for just that.
As covered in Deadspin, Doc once decided to earn his paycheck by devoting column space to the observation that Mick Cronin is short, and isn’t that interesting?
Mick Cronin, the subject of the column, didn’t really think so. Neither would anyone who has seen the picture of Jeff Van Gundy clinging to Alonzo Mourning’s leg.
An inquisitive person might have wondered why so many high-level basketball coaches are so short, and why the people receiving all those opportunities have at least one thing in common. But Paul Daugherty is not an inquisitive person.
The Phantom of the Enquirer
When The FC introduced their then-marquee signing Jurgen Locadia, Doc asked him to sing in the middle of the press conference. (See the 15th minute of this video.) I don’t see any purpose to this request other than to serve Doc’s desire to publicly humiliate a young athlete, which might explain why he decided to go after Osaka.
(I also have a specific memory of Doc telling Locadia that he makes “rap” music, which would be hilariously wrong and possibly racist, but I couldn’t find any proof of it online so either I’m wrong or that part of the video was scrubbed. In either case, I am specifically not accusing Doc of making that comment because I lack the evidence. If anyone has such evidence, my DMs are open.)
He Steals Doctor Valor
Imagine if that guy heard about a journalist making everyone call him “Doc.”
Aren’t You the Intolerant One for Not Tolerating My Intolerance?
Back in 2014, Michael Sam became the first openly gay player drafted in the NFL. After he was drafted by the Dolphins, he kissed his significant other, which is a common thing for draftees to do. One of his new teammates reacted by tweeting “Omg” and “horrible.” The Dolphins waived that player, requesting that he undertake sensitive training.
Doc, however, decided that the real problem was the people expecting Michael Sam to get a fair shot in the NFL. He defended the teammate’s reaction because “the issue of same-sex relationships is hot button,” and argued that “[l]ots of people think the way [the player]thinks.” He concluded that “those so stridently defending [Michael Sam]” are the real problem.
Then don’t. Don’t pose the question. You don’t get points for knowing that you shouldn’t pose it, and then going ahead and posing it. You were so close!
In case nuance escapes you, what we have here is a guy wondering aloud if a victim of child sexual abuse might have, in fact, enjoyed it. What purpose could it possibly serve to ask that question?
If you still don’t see the problem here, then just flip the genders.
This is real, real bad.
"Hell yeah, dude, high five. No homo."
Paul Daugherty, retire.