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Freedom of the Press?  Not so in SEC Land   Share

18 August 2010

The unemployment rate in Arkansas had been on a steady decline, but suddenly Governor Mike Beebe has one more job to try to create.  A “personality” for Hog Sports Radio in Arkansas was fired  purportedly for wearing a rival’s hat to a press conference.  Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino took issue with Renee Gork’s Florida Gators hat and apparently Ms. Gork’s employers found the offense to be egregious enough for a canning.

Gork asked the coach a question and Petrino followed his answer with, “and that will be the last question I answer with that hat on.”  Gork, a Florida alum, says she thought Petrino was joking.  After the press conference a team representative informed her that Petrino was not amused.  Florida beat Arkansas last year 23-20, and Petrino has made a point of how much that game still stings. 

According to (surprisingly a site about Arkansas sports), Gork’s Facebook page was discovered, spammed, and eventually turned to private.  While her page was still available, some Arkansas fans reportedly found comments on it bashing the Razorbacks and praising Florida.  Her radio station claims that KAKS is “very biased. We support the Razorbacks 100 percent.” 

This would not happen just anywhere.  SEC fans (SouthEastern Conference) take their football very seriously.  They may not understand that S.E. doesn’t actually stand for southeastern, but they know who the backup right tackle is for just about every team in the south.   While most conferences can offer great gameday atmospheres, few offer the wall-to-wall fanaticism of the SEC.  I’ve driven through Alabama in February and listened to callers on the local sports radio show talking about backup players and possible high school recruits for the University of Alabama.  

The timing’s great, too.  August marks the peak of preseason hype and interest for football season to start. Even though there are some great races in baseball going on, there is still another month until things become life-or-death over there.  The NBA’s stars are out touring the world as part of the national team.  NFL teams have played their first preseason games, during which we learned absolutely nothing about how they look for the regular season.  The sports world has been sleeping since Landon Donovan and Company came up short against Ghana in the World Cup.  Since the sports world is waking up, Ms. Gork should have little problem finding herself a new job.

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