Years ago my minister father gave me a tip regarding public speaking. “There’s what you say and there’s what they hear.” The meaning is that each member of the audience comes into a speech (or sermon or television show) from a different place. Where each listener’s head is will impact how they interpret the message the speaker is trying to send.
Good lesson. And it applies to the written word as well.
Let me give you what I think is a funny example.
Back on August 30th — our preseason preview on The Sports Source — we featured a segment asking, “Which SEC coaches would you trade Butch Jones for?” Everyone ranks coaches, so I didn’t want to do that. I thought it would be more interesting to gauge Jones by asking the panel who they’d take over him in a straight-up coach for coach deal.
Now, I received a LOT of feedback over that segment. Moreso than any other topic on that show, in fact. And as it turned out, most folks were pretty upset with me for even asking such a thing.
Keep in mind, we did this in the heady days of 10-win and SEC title talk (talk that we never engaged in, by the way, all of us picking seven or eight wins for this year’s Vols). Those who reached out to me at the time thought it was ridiculous to suggest that any SEC coach could do a better job at Tennessee than Jones.
Fast-forward five weeks and that entire segment takes on a whole new vibe. I can guarantee you that if I ran that same clip on my show last Sunday I would have been called a “homer” rather than a “hater.” Go ahead and watch it. Those people who are SO down on Jones right now would call us idiots for suggesting that UT’s coach is better than just about anyone on that list.
Keep in mind, what we said has not changed. It’s stayed the same. But as people have gone from happy to mad that segment has gone from too negative to too positive.
The viewers’ perspective has changed.
There’s what you say and there’s what they hear.
And Tennessee fans watching that segment today are coming into it from a completely different place than they did 30-something days ago.
— John Pennington