As you probably already know, this week Terry Dresbach and her husband Ron Moore sat down for a live tweet with fans. They were ready to celebrate the monumental task of bringing Outlander to life and they wanted to share their joy in accomplishment with the fans. Many fans were ready to share in their joy and accomplishment, but some…not so much. There were folks who evidently saw this as their opportunity to air grievances. And,…they did. I didn’t know this was happening until hours afterward. A Twitter friend told me to go check it out. The complaining I saw there was at the least opportunistic (I’d never seen some of these folks tweet Terry before and I’ve been around awhile) and most certainly rude in tone. I’m not sure how anyone male or female could be expecting their opinions to be taken seriously when couched in such a way. It is tough to have respectful discourse when you are being attacked.
Terry has gone on record saying that she is fine and it is to be expected, but she hadn’t really seen this behavior in this particular fandom before. She said she was aware there was some grumbling about certain issues with the show and cast, but none of it had been expressed directly to her.
I’m told what started in the live tweet didn’t stop once the session ended. The door was cracked open and then flung wide by fans who seemingly smelled blood in the water. Terry got tweets all day, night and into the next day.
Upon reflection, I realized this felt familiar to me. I’d been there. My husband wasn’t a Hollywood writer/producer, but he was a football coach. Now, don’t laugh, but I saw some real similarities between these two professions and what it was like to be a spouse to a man in a profession like Ron’s! Like I said, it felt familiar.
The time, dedication and sacrifice
First, let’s talk about what it takes to be a football coach. Hours and hours and hours. Time spent recruiting. Time spent meeting. Time spent planning. Time spent practicing. Time spent promoting.Time spent mentoring his staff. Time spent with academic administrators who truly didn’t understand what it took to run a quality program and then trying to convince them to give you what you needed to do the job right. Time spent making sure everyone has what they need to do their jobs and nurturing the program, so that the folks you brought with you continue to have jobs and opportunities to better themselves. Time spent with the players ( I swear at times I thought he was a counselor not a coach). Time spent directing what happened on the field on game day and then… doing it all over again the next day. And, somewhere in all this find time to have a wife and family.
It wasn’t easy and I got pretty creative at finding ways to make the most of the time we had together. Looking in at our chosen lifestyle, an outsider might have thought the sacrifice wasn’t worth it, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. It was the price I paid for loving a special man. He was good at what he did and was truly making a difference in some young men’s lives. He was a role model in a world that sorely needed them. I’ve always been so proud of his passion, compassion and integrity. He always did what was best for his athletes even when it wasn’t the most popular or easy thing to do. He truly cared about the young men in his programs. So, when his talent, dedication and sacrifice wasn’t acknowledged or recognized it hurt.
Everybody is a critic and the misconceptions
My husband didn’t have millions of people watching how he coached and ran his program (but Ron does), but what he did have were stadiums full of people, very vocal FANS. People who saw the team as THEIR team. (sounding familiar yet?)
Despite years as a coach’s wife, I would still find myself caught off guard at times. I would be baffled that people couldn’t see what my husband was about and how lucky they were to have him coaching their kids. They just didn’t get it! It seems everyone had their own ideas of how things should be done and they were convinced my husband wasn’t doing things right. Everyone knew better and everyone THOUGHT they knew what was going on. Several stories come to mind that illustrate my point.
For instance, in a particularly close game we were on the goal line and it was fourth down. We needed a touchdown, not a field goal, to put us in the position to win. It was a now or never situation. My husband called a time-out and gathered the boys on the sideline. From the stands, we all could see him yelling, pointing, getting up in the kids’ faces. The crowd began to boo, yell names at my husband, threaten to “kick his ass”, etc… The boys went back on the the field and scored the needed touchdown. We won and all seemed to be forgiven. Later that night, I asked him what he was saying to the boys on that sideline. “I was telling them I believed in them and pointing out how hard they had worked and how much they deserved to win. I told them them to go out there and do what I knew they could do”, he explained.
I often laugh that I would have loved to give some of these vocal FANS a taste of their own medicine! There was one particularly vocal gentleman who stands out in my mind. He was a local dairy farmer by profession. I had created this little dream scenario where I would show up at his barn with a bullhorn, pull up a stool, and critique his milking. “You call that milking!? My 85 year-old grandmother could milk better than that!” ” Can’t you see that the stream keeps hitting the pail in the same place? My God! Tweak the teet on the left.” etc. I would then write about it in the paper the next day! The headline would read FARMER BROWN CAN’T MILK! COMMUNITY WILL HAVE TO EAT THEIR CEREAL WITH WATER! The article of course would contain unflattering pictures of him with his head near the cow’s butt and be full of comments taken out of context!
For the most part, I dealt with what I saw as unfair attacks on my husband with the grace he expected. In fact, I can really only remember saying something to a fan one time and even then I thought I handled it pretty well. Directly after a game, I had a parent come up to me and say she had a terrible time trying to enjoy the game because of a fan sitting beside her that just couldn’t keep from bad mouthing everyone! and she said she thought he might actually work for the college. She pointed him out in the stands and sure enough, it was one of the professors. Tamping down my need to rip him a new one, I climbed the stairs to confront him. “Hi!”, I said in the cheeriest voice I could manage. ” I just had a parent tell me that a fan had ruined the game for them because that were talking so badly about the players and coaches. Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be you!” “I paid my five bucks” was his eloquent reply. Over the years, I learned that this behavior was indeed to be expected.
My husband has retired from coaching, but the memories linger and I feel for Terry and the price she is paying for loving a special man. She’s a hell of a lot tougher than I was and I applaud her efforts to continue to interact with and fully engage the fans. I don’t want to lecture, but just gently remind folks that these are real people with real feelings and just because you paid your “five bucks” it doesn’t mean you can’t be kind or respectful when you disagree.