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Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

The F. Scott Fitzgerald Super Bowl Controversy That Wouldn't Die

Of all the cockamamie controversies surrounding the Super Bowl ... did two columnists actually criticize sideline reporter Alex Flanagan for quoting F. Scott Fitzgerald? And did Keith Olbermann jump to her defense on his show?

Pete Dougherty of the Albany Times Union and Ted Cox of the Chicago Daily Herald both took the opportunity in print to slam Flanagan's use of an F. Scott Fitzgerald line, used during one of her sideline reports on Sunday. The quote, "There are no second acts in American lives," was used in a pregame piece about the resurgence of Kurt Warner. Said Dougherty: "Ugh ... we're watching a football game, not dissecting American history."


No, that would be American Literature, Petey. And would you prefer the wit and wisdom of Michael Irvin or Emmitt Smith? This is why newspapers are dying, boys; you're pandering to people who aren't smart enough to read.

No, if you must criticize Flanagan, criticize her for being unoriginal. Everybody uses that Fitzgerald quote ... even Mike Tyson.


From the Tim Rich's March 16, 2008 U.K. Guardian profile on David Beckham:

"After taking a Beckham-sized salary to decamp to Los Angeles to recreate the glories of The Great Gatsby and Tender is the Night for Hollywood, F Scott Fitzgerald remarked sadly that "there are no second acts in American lives". Fitzgerald conclusively proved his point by drinking himself to death while producing unusable scripts that had no chance of ending up as a film."

Esquire, Sept. 1, 1999:

F. Scott Fitzgerald, a famous author Mike Tyson enjoys quoting, once wrote, "There are no second acts in American lives." But Tyson, a tormented soul at 32, proved Fitzgerald wrong Saturday night ...


And ...

F. Scott Fitzgerald may have written, "There are no second acts in American lives," but Michael Jordan went about proving him wrong.


From the March 16, 2008 Portland Oregonian:

And here's the Seattle Times' take on the spectacular fall of New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer. If you think Spitzer's career is all washed up, think again. Bottom line: F. Scott Fitzgerald may have been all wrong when he famously said, "There are no second acts in American lives. Says one American history prof, "In fact, F. Scott Fitzgerald was wrong. It happens all the time.


The same day, in the Augusta Chronicle:

F. Scott Fitzgerald is famous for saying "There are no second acts in American lives," implying that you get one chance to get it right." Of course, that's not true. There are second chances all around us."


Besides, the line — from notes for an unfinished novel, no less — doesn't even mean what people think it means. From Mad In Pursuit Journal.

F. Scott Fitzgerald said, "There are no second acts in American lives." This is one of his most repeated quotes. It's always used to open an article about someone making a new start in life or rising from the ashes of failure to achieve success. "F. Scott Fitzgerald got it wrong when he said ...". Come on, people. Fitzgerald was too close an observer of American life not to know that people reinventing themselves is fundamental. He did a turn in Hollywood writing screenplays, didn't he? Don't you think he knew the function of Second Acts?


So, time to retire this quote, in sports reporting and otherwise. Not because it's too high-brow, but because, like a Brett Favre retirement press conference, it's been done, and it's meaning has been misinterpreted to begin with.

Olberman Blasts Reporters Who Blasted Alex Flanagan [Awful Announcing]

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