Donnie Fetter got about 20 e-mails, two phone calls and numerous face-to-face comments. I got only two e-mails.
My colleague's June 30 column, "If cheerleading is a sport, karaoke can be a concert," argued that cheerleading is not a sport because its scoring system is subjective. While two e-mailers agreed with him, the others offered an argument to the contrary.
In my June 27 column, "Three cheers for cheerleading qualifying as a sport," I argued that it's definitely a sport because of the sheer athleticism involved.
The two who e-mailed me couldn't have agreed more. Not that I'm bragging.
But this column isn't about who agreed with whom. In fact, it isn't even about cheerleading.
Instead, it's about how people react to what they read.
Friends and family members will sometimes come to me and say, "Hey, I really liked what you wrote. Did you get any e-mails about it?" Oftentimes, I have to tell them that I didn't get any feedback.
However, when those same friends and family members let me know about an error I made, I tell them that I already heard about it from the masses, either through e-mail or in a phone call.
It seems that when people are happy with what they read, they'll just go on contentedly living their lives. Make them angry, though, and many times you'll never hear the end of it.
This is by no means a newspaper phenomenon. At restaurants, people expect great service and generally tip appropriately. In some cases, when the service is extraordinary, those served will bump up the tip amount. But I know a lot of people whose standard percentage is the highest they'll go.
Anything less than great service and that tip usually takes a nosedive.
What about those "How are my driving?" signs on the back of vehicles? That's code for "Tell my supervisors what I did wrong." I mean, do you call those numbers when the driver expertly comes to a stop at a red light?
How about surveys at restaurants, hotels, airlines, pretty much anywhere designed around a service concept? I'd be willing to bet that those establishments get far more negative responses than positive ones, even if the majority of people are satisfied with the service.
In sports, coaches are the focal point of an outrageous amount of negativity. Sure, they get a few compliments here and there, but they have to have a thick skin to do what they do.
If there is any population you'd expect to break this mold, it would be cheerleaders. I could be wrong, but I believe they take something akin to a Hippocratic Oath that says, "I will do everything in my power to uplift my audience."
I have heard that their positive nature can be replaced by a nasty competitive streak at big competitions, but that's beside the point.
Writers are just like anybody else -- we like to know when we've done a good job.
We're no different from cheerleaders. All they want is a fair system in which good cheerleading is rewarded and bad cheerleading is punished. However, as Donnie argued, the system is at least partly subjective and always will be.
I say if you're happy with the service, let somebody know. Take the time to fill out a survey. Call a supervisor to compliment -- not just deride -- a company's employee.
It doesn't take very long. It will give the people involved a more realistic viewpoint, and it could just make someone's day.
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