Roy Exum: To Make Others Listen

Monday, January 20, 2020
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

I’ve known Paul Finebaum since he was a student sportswriter at the University of Tennessee. While I have disagreed with him at times, and regretted he has used his perch to pick fights with a lot of coaches who have also been my friends down through the years, I have always liked Paul and respected him and even, at times, envied his brisk manner that has assailed him to the heights of ESPN. There is no doubt the boy has chutzpah (a Yiddish word to mean particularly audacious or has a lot of guts.) Paul thrives on controversy and, at the close of college football's regular season, he took off on Clemson coach Dabo Sweeney, this as the Tiger coach defended his team’s light schedule in an undefeated season.

“I think Dabo Swinney is the most annoying winner in all of sports, I mean the guy just can’t keep his trap shut,” Finebaum said.

“I mean somebody just give the man a pacifier, send him to timeout, and we’ll check in with him on December 28th when he finally plays a legitimate team during this entire college football season.”

Dabo, who has listened to the Birmingham-based talk show host all his life, had the perfect retort. “Been in meetings. Hate I missed it. I’m sure it was riveting,” Swinney laughed after he learned Paul had taken a swing. “But, there you go. Creating great conversation,” he said. “I’d like some time out. I’d like to take a nap … We should have adult time out time. Just all bring a mat, take a nap, and be good. I never had a pacifier, though, so I don’t know how that worked out.”

Having watched such sword fights all my life, where words have been used instead of sabers in the great realm of sports, I find such diatribe as funny, but then Dabo laid down a big reason he’s the highest paid coach in America. How about this Life’s Lesson out the mouth that has never held a pacifier: “One of the best lessons I’ve learned is that you don’t worry about criticism from people that you wouldn’t seek advice from,” he said. “I get a lot of criticism. If it’s somebody that I could go sit down and seek some advice from, then I might listen to that.”

As one who has also faced the critics, I appreciated Dabo’s candor and I use it right now for a purpose. Why should any politician worry about anything to do with you if you don’t vote. Go ahead, spout off however you like. Spread the lies that accompany any election. If you don’t vote, then the bums get elected and in Hamilton County that has been well-proven by pugnacious handlers like the pseudo UnifiEd group and “dark money” in the last two elections.

Tennessee ranks 50th among all of the states in voter turnout. Last year 236,894 voters across Tennessee were purged from voters’ rolls because they have failed to vote in the past 10 years and did not reply to cards mailed by county Election Commissions to keep them on the rolls. People move away, die, become felons – this is a good process – but with the hanky-panky twisting election results, dead people applying for voter cards, and an arena that has become more polarized than at any other time in our nation’s history, a vote is a precious commodity. In the last election there was a cyber attack on the election commission in Knoxville.  Want a free pint of booze for your vote? Step right up … in Chattanooga this happens every time. Vodka or bourbon?

There are people hard at work right now trying to chart the course of the seemingly ridiculous “Super Tuesday” ballot march on March 3. This waste of time and money is to determine the favorites in this year’s Presidential race. The “Super Tuesday” votes mean nothing, unless you want to help sway party donations, entertain a gaggle of pollsters, or further confuse the Democrats among us. There is a huge list of pretenders on the left … which shows the Democratic national party is still stumbling. I believe it is a cinch Trump will be elected for a second term in November because, outside of Nancy Pelosi’s vitriol, the party itself might as well hold conventions in cemeteries because they are the only places that welcome the dead.

The first vote that counts will be on August 6th. It will include federal and state primaries, and county and state judicial general. The deadline to register to vote in this election is July 7. The final votes for federal and state offices will be on Nov. 3 (registration deadline Oct. 5)

The state legislature, in 2017, changed the law so an inactive voter would remain on the rolls but, at the same time, approved a needed process where purging rolls could take place if a past voter cannot be found, does not reply to direct mails, and does not vote in the next federal election. Any person who has been purged in the past can easily be reinstated, provided there are no mitigating circumstances, and anyone can go to the Tennessee Secretary of State’s website to check their status. New voters can contact the election offices in Tennessee’s 95 counties – it is an easy process – and first-time voters can download instructions. 

But question yourself: if a football coach doesn’t worry about the criticism from someone he would never seek for advice, what makes you think your family, your friends, and your neighbors will give a rip about your opinion if you can’t back it up with a voter registration card? I believe in the Power of One. Right now, we find more discord and disappointment than ever but the only way for us to change anything we dislike is to stand and be counted … at the ballot box.

Never be a bell without a clapper, not if you want to amount to something and, for God’s sake, never settle for “average.”

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