I immediately checked the BTSC comments section; there really weren’t many, which wasn’t much of a surprise since it wasn't an article about punters Pittsburgh could select in the 2022 NFL Draft. A while later, I decided to check in with the folks on Facebook to see what they had to say about my article. That’s when I discovered a comment from someone—the very first one, actually—asking, “What about the time the Steelers drafted Daniel Sepulveda in the fourth round of the 2007 NFL Draft? You forgot about that one, didn’t you, sir?” That wasn’t the exact quote, but it was pretty close in terms of sentiment. Others chimed in with comments similar to that, such as, “Yeah, how could you not know about Sepulveda?”
These folks would have had great points...if I actually failed to include Sepulveda in my article. Not only did I mention the fourth-round selection of Sepulveda, but I did so at the very beginning of my article.
My point? People just don’t read articles. Speaking of which, I read an article last summer that claimed 90 percent of people don’t finish reading online articles (I think that was the number, anyway—I didn’t finish the article).
What’s that all about? Can’t you see how that can lead to misunderstandings? Can’t you see how this could cause unnecessary confusion? I wrote an article many years ago about left-handed quarterbacks and how scarce they were in the NFL—especially in the long and mostly rich history of your Steelers. For the story, I used a picture of Tim Tebow because I believe he was one of only a few lefties who had played the position in the previous decade or so. However, I only mentioned his name in passing during the article and never once said that the Steelers should sign him to be their next quarterback.
But according to the comments on Facebook, my desire to see the Steelers sign Tebow was ALL the story was about.
You might be asking, “Well, why didn't you just use a different picture if you were concerned about people freaking out over the possibility of the Steelers signing Tebow?”
My retort to that would be, “Why didn’t they just read the article?”
I witnessed a conversation on Twitter last fall between an editor and a reader regarding the reader’s full admission that he didn’t read sports articles—only the headlines of said articles—and how that could lead to confusion and fans overreacting.
When I chimed in with something along the line of, “Yeah, why don’t you read the articles? Don’t you see how that could lead to confusion and overreactions?” the guy said, “Hey, the next time I want advice from a 48-year old blogger, I’ll ask, okay?”
When it comes to put-downs from folks who do nothing to invalidate the overall point, I gotta tell ya’, that was pretty good.
I know what you might be thinking, “Here we go, a BTSC writer is lashing out at readers for lashing out at writers over articles they didn’t even bother to read.” Or maybe your feeling is, “Hey, my grandfather fought in WWII—the big one—in order to give me the freedom to react to articles without reading them.”
Allow me to put on my empathy hat for one moment and say that I understand how annoying it is to read articles online. You click on a link, and like two seconds in, there’s a pop-up asking you to subscribe to the site of the article you’re attempting to read. Four seconds after exiting out of that pop-up, you get hit with a video imploring you to talk to your doctor about some medication (and you’re nowhere near 50, let alone 65). Not long after you get rid of that video, you hear the voices of a couple of young cats talking about the best fantasy football running backs for 2021. You know it’s a video, but you can’t find that sucker. It’s impossible to concentrate on your reading with all that talking going on, but you can’t find the video. “Where is it?” you frantically ask nobody in particular. “I see the microphone thingy at the top of the screen. Why don't I see the video?” While scrolling to find the video, you accidentally click on the picture of the woman who had no idea what was lurking behind her as she took a selfie in the woods. You back out of that site (this takes a little longer than you’d hope), and, sure, the voices are gone, but now you’re back at the beginning of the article. While trying to find the spot where you left off, you get taken to a different page telling you that you’re the latest winner of something. Next thing you know, you’re on some page titled, “37 Facts About the Facts of Life.”
So, I get it. When you know you have to deal with all of that junk, it makes it much easier to just react to a headline that includes a picture of Martavis Bryant—“No way will the Steelers sign him! These writers are getting desperate!”—than it is to click on the headline and actually read what the article is about.
I’m not necessarily judging. I’m just saying that the upcoming Steelers season will be a long and, hopefully, fruitful one. There will be countless articles published on many sites. You can save yourself a lot of online arguments and lectures by those in the peanut gallery (people like me) if you just take a few minutes, wade through all of the nonsense, and read the entire article of a headline/picture you find intriguing.
After all, it’s like what Oswald Bates once said: “Reading is fundamental.”