I found out earlier this week that Tuesday was "Stupid Question Day".
Apparently, it's a holiday that I and a lot of people were not aware of. I checked the calendar and found nothing that designated such a day and what I found even more interesting is that after doing a search of the holiday, there's even a dispute about what actual day it supposed to fall on. So, to be safe, they said to celebrate/honor or recognize however you please at any time during the final week of September.
I suppose why this particular day didn't really resonate with me is because for those of us in the media, every day is "Stupid Question Day". Having been a talk show host and reporter in locker rooms, postgame press conferences, and post practice interview sessions, I've been privy to some incredibly stupid questions in my day.
And yes, I won't eliminate myself from the masses. When you're fresh out of school and trying to make an impression, there seems to be a flood of stupid questions that come out of your mouth.
Don't think I'm leaving Joe Six pack out, though.
As a talk show host for several years, I know stupid questions were part of the territory. While there are some extremely intelligent callers with great questions, there's also a fair percentage of callers who aren't working with a full picnic basket.
Talk shows are littered with stupid questions and while they can be show killers, they can also provide a great deal of fun and levity to a program.
I mean, if you can't make fun of a caller with a stupid question then who can you make fun of? It's not uncommon for some shows to put on a caller who they know has a stupid question just so they can have fun at their expense.
Now, some of you might think this is mean -- it brings a great deal of enjoyment to the hosts and, in most cases, to other listeners. Look, you gotta be able to police your own stupidity and if you are unable to do that then you'll have to face the consequences.
One place where stupid questions can be excruciating and mind numbing is in the locker room or postgame press conference. In these instances, you're usually on some kind of deadline so a stupid question can bring an interview to a halt like the stalled car on the I-10. Often times, the person who asked the stupid question doesn't even realize it. But a quick glance around the room and you'd see thousands of imaginary little daggers being hurled by the other reporters at the guilty party.
The stupid question is often asked by someone who's trying to appear as though they have great knowledge of the subject or team or player when, in reality, they know very little.
But as is often the case, the reporter doesn't listen to that little voice in his head screaming "stupid question alert, do not ask, I repeat do not ask" and, without hesitation, the words come spilling out of their mouth like the trash can the dog just tipped over in the kitchen. There it is, out in the open, fully exposed, while the rest of us are saying under our breath, "I can't believe he/she just asked that."
Now, like the hosts on a call-in show, there are times when stupid questions can be extremely humorous, especially if you have a coach or an athlete who isn't afraid to poke fun or even berate the journalist/reporter for asking the stupid question. If you've watched any sports shows at all, you've probably seen a clip or two where this has happened.
Take this recent example from the master of swatting down stupid questions, Gregg Popovich, who wasn't in a great mood anyway after getting stomped by the Suns in the playoffs last spring:
Covering the Suns back in the Barkley days was always eventful just because Charles was a larger-than-life character, but I can tell you that part of the true enjoyment many of us got in covering Sir Charles was the way he handled the "media idiots," as he used to affectionately call us.
Barkley pulled no punches when it came to those who ventured into the stupid question realm. There were times when he'd just look at the person and tell them, "That is a stupid question."
Other times, he'd deliver an answer in the smart ass way that only Charles can do and some of the best response came in the form of a look.
It's these situations that have the professional athlete, coach and GM scratching their heads and why they share the same opinion of the media that Charles did back in his playing days.
You see, for every good reporter who has strong questions, there's at least two or three that are not and then we all get thrown into the stupid question cart together.
Spurs head coach Gregg Poppovich is notorious for going after reporters who ask what he deems as stupid questions. He's been known to make those who ask the stupid question melt into a puddle with just that steely-eyed look that he can has. No wonder Tony Parker cried his first couple of years in the league. I'm getting scared just thinking about it.
I have no doubt that many of you have experienced similar situations in your workplace. You've got the big staff meeting and there are always one or two employees that are trying to show off their big brains and think they've got a real gem to ask in an effort to kiss up to the boss. Boom, they fire it out there and it's as if someone dropped a stink bomb in the place. The expressions on their coworkers' faces say it all.
Now that I think about it, I'm not sure why the folks who came up with "Stupid Question Day" didn't think bigger. Something this significant shouldn't be limited to just one day. Let's be honest here, this should be more like a year-long holiday or festival because we all deal with stupid questions every day of the year.
So, if you haven't done so already do your part today and ask a stupid question, or for some you it will be your 3rd or 4th stupid question of the day.
Maybe you could even share of some the more memorable stupid questions you've heard in your workplace. I mean, how can we laugh at you or your coworkers if we don't get to hear some of these priceless verbal faux pas?
Here's just a few that are often part of postgame sessions that can be found in any sport. These are actual questions that have been asked by actual reporters, not actors paid to play reporters!
1. "So, how did you feel after the win today?"
2. "They seemed to be able to stop your passing attack all day today" *(please note this is not an actual question but has been delivered countless times!).
3. "Why have the Diamondbacks struck out more times than the three geeks on Big Bang Theory?" (sorry, this was a question submitted by D-back season ticket holders, though I'm not sure it truly qualifies as a stupid question)
4. "Do I get paid for writing this column?" (clearly the most stupid question of the day!)