Friday, May 03, 2013

Firing of Susannah Collins Makes CSN Look Like Really Bad Sports

The world's biggest banks conspire to fix prices on interest rate swaps, essentially rigging a $379 billion market and providing fodder for yet another terrific Matt Taibbi tome?


A local TV sports channel fires a pretty female reporter?

Dammit, I'm grabbing my pitchfork, along with thousands of others across social media and the blogosphere.

But in one sense, both of the above can be seen as the same story: big shots ruling the world, getting away with capricious, often corrupt (or at least hypocritical) behavior and good people getting crushed under the weight of the corporatocracy.

Which is quite a pompous preamble to expressing my outrage over CSN's firing of Susannah Collins, depriving Chicago Blackhawks fans the pleasure of seeing her informative reports, fun interviews and, yes, attractive visage during the remainder of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

In case you've been sleeping under a rock, or are just oblivious to things you're oblivious to, Susannah Collins is--err, was--a sideline reporter, occasional anchor and Gas Money (a local quiz-the-public-about-sports game show of sorts) co-host for Comcast Sports Net, which broadcasts numerous Hawks, Bulls, Cubs and Sox games.

Last year, she essentially replaced Sarah Kustok, also a quite attractive and eminently professional reporter. I swear it wasn't just the Neanderthal in me that rued Kustok's departure to New York; I found her to be terrifically good at her job, which largely involved interviewing players immediately after games.

When Collins arrived, it was--sexist as it may sound--easy to think that CSN's primary criteria for replacing a beautiful female sideline reporter was to provide their large male audience with another piece of eye candy.

But with her buoyantly engaging demeanor and stellar postgame questions, Collins soon proved that good looks, charisma, intelligence and deep sports knowledge are--for a woman--only mutually exclusive in the minds of morons.

In other words, Susannah Collins was truly good at her job and very pretty.

And what I also like about her is the way she seems to take her role seriously, but not it--or herself--too seriously. After all, she is covering sports, not war.

Well, Tuesday night, before the Blackhawks' first playoff game, Susannah Collins made national news for doing this:

A momentary gaffe, which didn't violate FCC standards, that she instantly corrected, apologized for on Twitter and--as it began to go viral--took in stride by tweeting: Thanks for laughing along with me & my "tremendous" slip, guys. Who couldn't use a good chuckle every now & then right?? #Whoops

With the attention cycle seemingly about to wind down on an embarrassing but not in any way detrimental miscue--or likely a false one, the Blackhawks presumably did have a tremendous amount of sex during this lockout-delayed, unprecedentedly successful-to-begin season--last night the Tribune reported that Collins and CSN had parted ways.

The news soon spread like wildfire on Twitter, with nearly every tweet I've seen condemning CSN for their actions (which one assumes to be a firing, if not explicitly announced as such). And as of now, the story remains the top news item on the Chicago Tribune website.

As far as I understand it, the "there's more to the story" part of this is that CSN--and/or has been insinuated, the Blackhawks--was supposedly concerned that Collins' new notoriety would bring greater prominence to a series of sports comedy videos she had done a few years ago called Sports Nutz.

I've now seen a few Sports Nutz clips and while not mortally offended, I can see where they were perhaps overly risqué, possibly in poor taste to those with certain sensibilities and likely--seen through a rearview mirror--not displaying the best judgment.

But as revealed a month ago in an interview with Paul M. Banks of Chicago Sports Media Watch, the Sports Nutz clips--which do demonstrate Collins' likable personality--are what got her noticed, and eventually the job with CSN.

So as Banks conveys in a post about Collins' termination, it seems like B.S. to suddenly hold Sports Nutz against her, due to a millisecond flub that got CSN oodles of national exposure.

If CSN claims they didn't know about Sports Nutz upon hiring Collins, not only would this appear fictitious, but it's on them for not properly vetting--or even bothering to Google--her.

And assuming CSN knew about Sports Nutz all along, why dump Collins now, when they most need her talents to liven their Blackhawks coverage?

While I would've loved to have interviewed her for this blog--and still would--I don't know Susannah Collins.

I also don't endorse everything she did on Sports Nutz, but also can't say I perceived any overt malice on her part, and find the clips--now much, much more known due to CSN's actions--largely irrelevant, especially as any offenses should be weighed against the talent, initiative and verve demonstrated in creating them.

Do people hold SNL cast members' feet to the fire for every skit that may be a touch misguided?

And as much as I often have to explain to non-fans (mostly those who have never listened) that Howard Stern really isn't all that bawdy much of the time--and when he is, I'm an adult with the freedom of choice--in being a longtime listener I've come to know that even Howard would admit that not everything one says and does looks wonderful in retrospect.

In other words, while I would hope Susannah Collins would respect the feelings of anyone truly offended by anything she did on Sports Nutz, or even her flub the other night, based on what I know, I don't think she has anything to apologize for nor be ashamed of.

I even surmise that the fun, self-deprecating persona she showed--and likely honed--through Sports Nutz is what made her so good on CSN, largely on behalf of the Blackhawks. She clearly loved her job, and again, beyond finding her attractive, I genuinely think she was really good at it (and is quite likely to land somewhere even better soon). 

So her firing seems not only unfortunate, petty, harsh and shortsighted, but rather silly. 

And also--given this sage tweet by The Score's often quite insightful Dan Bernstein--rather hypocritical:

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