Kenny Rice – “Talk Isn’t Cheap, It Rocks the Sports World”


Minutes after California Chrome lost his bid for the Triple Crown, his co-owner Steve Coburn ripped the long standing horse racing system of allowing fresh horses into the Preakness and Belmont Stakes, who bypassed the Kentucky Derby. Tonalist was one of those horses, and he beat Chrome.

Coburn’s words resonated louder than the horse charging down the stretch and lingered longer than most remembered the winner. There were two reasons for this; in the genteel world of racing no one had ever heard trash-talking like this, and there were over twenty million people tuned to the NBC broadcast.

It was powerful TV, raw emotions and strong words. As the man conducting the interview, I knew the importance of what was being said and equally important, following up with questions appropriate for such a unique situation. Some words are vapor, interviews that pass by, but a precious few become etched in mental stone. These are the ones that fly, even spew in the face of standard.

He remained undeterred in his opinion over twenty-four hours later, before apologizing for some of his words, but not necessarily his stance.  What he did was create a dialogue about racing that would have not happened otherwise, perhaps even more attention than if his horse had won, at least on a national scope.

Should there be changes to the sport? Amidst his anger toward the system, it wasn’t lost that he had brought up an interesting point of discussion.

Words in sports, they aren’t cheap any more. Had Coburn been an MMA fighter he would have certainly received a UFC bonus with an exploding Twitter following and YouTube overload.

In the cyber world it is vital to make noise. Look at the MMA fights made because of challenges, fighters rattling sabers and going against the grain in 140 characters or less.

Chael Sonnen has been the master of reimagining himself in recent years. Without a significant title, he has talked his way into championship shots and can be argued to be the most popular UFC fighter who had never won anything. Sonnen has challenged anyone, me included, who has challenged him on TRT use. His thousands of followers never waver in their support for him, with undying hate for anyone questioning the charismatic self promoter.

Even the latest announcement of a failed drug test, is doubtful to slow down his Twitter happy, WWE style soap box, that’s proven to be a ticket generating buzz every time he fights. His words are never cheap, they account for butts in the seats and PPV buys.

At the Super Bowl next to Peyton Manning, Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman was the best known player, not necessarily because he is one of the best in the NFL, but more so for his outlandish statements and ranting post game interview after the playoff win over the 49ers. The most talked about interview prior to Coburn.

Sacramento’s talented but suspension proven center Demarcus Cousins, isn’t an all-star but his flaky, controversial,appeal to young fans landed him a spot shooting hoops with Jimmy Kimmel this week while playing a bass drum. It was fun watching, even though this is as close as he’s gotten to playing hoops on national TV in June.

From Joe Namath to Muhammed Ali, two athletes who defined a generation, to Charles Barkley in the studio today, we love those who flaunt the conventional wisdom; daring to say and do what most only wish they could. That Johnny Paycheck moment of telling the boss to “Take That Job and Shove It.”

They can because they backed it up with actions during their Hall of Fame careers. Words were never cheap, it landed endorsement deals and celebrity status.

With the 24-hour news cycle and the instant messaging world of today, nothing rocks it more than the outrageous and unpredictable. Sports are the perfect medium.

So there!


Got something you’re burning on? Tell the man himself on Kenny Rice’s Twitter or Facebook page.
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