By Charlie Rego
How many of you have ever felt personally victimized by the media? *Everybody reading this article raises hand*
I can talk about how the media tries to manipulate my perception of reality by making me feel like I have to look or be a certain away. I can talk about how the media tries to control my opinion of a certain political issue. But today, I’m going to talk about how the media is flat-out ruining sports for me — ESPN in particular.
Sports have always had a profound influence on nearly all aspects of my life. Sports have created life-long friendships and strengthened my relationship with my family. That sounds so cliché, but it is genuine.
My parents are divorced, so I don’t really see my father a lot, but whenever we go out, sports unite us. Whether we’re going to a Bruins game or just discussing over a meal how the Red Sox desperately need a good starting pitcher, we can always count on sports to bring us together. As for my friends, I can always count on my fantasy football league to keep things relevant between us.
All right, I’m just going to get down to brass tacks and say it: ESPN, and other sports networks (but mainly ESPN), are killing sports for me. ESPN and sports media have made things so much more complicated than they are. I miss the mornings where I could just tune in to funny, entertaining recaps of baseball games while enjoying a nice bowl of Fruit Loops in front of the TV. Sports seemed so much simpler back then, but still incredibly entertaining.
ESPN covers sports today with such velocity and aggression. Everything moves so fast and so forcefully. It seems like everything just blows up at once and is shoved into our faces. The less important aspects of sports are valued more than the more important aspects.
Not only that, but these stories are abused and exploited to the extent where coverage of sports becomes flat out annoying. The media is dramatizing sports. They make a big deal about small things. If after a game, an athlete says something slightly controversial, it becomes a national headline.
The media can’t care less about the actual outcome of the game. Yeah, I get it. Johnny “Football” Manziel is entering the draft. Yeah, I get it — Johnny Football is not the starting QB for the Cleveland Browns, a team that doesn’t even need him. Yeah, ESPN, I get it, Johnny Football is playing his first NFL game.
Madison Bumgarner achieved one of the greatest pitching performances in baseball history, yet ESPN gives more attention to a football player who rides his team’s bench. I bet half the people who read this article have never even heard the name “Madison Bumgarner” before. Thanks ESPN. Thanks sports media.
Today, the biggest stories in sports do not consist of a team’s triumph through adversity or remarkable championship run, but rather a college athlete entering the draft or a major scandal that occurred off the field. The biggest sports story of 2014 was Lebron James returning to Cleveland. Wouldn’t it make sense for the biggest sports story of the year to be the Spurs’ victory over the Miami Heat? The goal of sports is to win the championship. However, ESPN and other media sources believe that a player changing teams to win a championship is more important than a team actually winning a championship. I guess that deserves a, “C’mon man.”
ESPN’s biggest sports story of 2012 did not even concern an event that occurred on the field. Instead, it concerned a coach’s lack of action in a sexual abuse scandal that he was not even directly involved in.
I can tolerate 24/7 coverage of Johnny Football, I can tolerate “Lebron Center” but ESPN crosses the line when it criticizes and slanders certain individuals in the sports world. That’s when I have a problem with ESPN.
ESPN calls itself the “world-wide leader in sports” and it is no lie that they live up to that name. ESPN is statistically the most-watched sports network. I bet some people cannot even name another sports network. People of all ages watch ESPN: children, teens, adults and my dog.
As the most-watched sports network in the United States, it should bear certain responsibilities. It should cover sports in a fashion that is not only genuine but also ethical. However, ESPN has not lived up to its responsibilities and instead has been a bully to a certain extent.
Just this past week, ESPN has bullied the crap out of the Patriots. It’s the week before the Super Bowl! One of the most anticipated and cherished events each year — an American tradition. However, I don’t think half the country is even aware that there is a Super Bowl in a week.
Instead of talking about the Super Bowl, ESPN is devoting all its attention to the “DeflateGate” scandal — a scandal that nearly every athlete who is not associated with ESPN agrees is over-exaggerated and irrelevant. Nearly every topic on Sports Center concerns “DeflateGate,” nearly every Facebook post by ESPN concerns “DeflateGate.” However, ESPN does not realize the crime they are committing. They are slandering other human beings. They are negatively portraying human beings and destroying their reputations. This is an atrocity.
ESPN posted an article that basically read: “Hard to trust Tom Brady.” Are you kidding me, ESPN? How can anyone take your network seriously? That’s slander at its finest. It should be a crime for an entity with so much influence and power to debase a person like that.
ESPN, it’s your responsibility to genuinely cover sports. Stop ruining the reputations of others. It’s simply unethical. ESPN has put the Patriots in a position where they are forced to deny any responsibility. Even if Tom Brady is guilty, how can you blame him for lying? ESPN has hyped this whole “scandal” to the point where it would be suicide for Tom Brady, Bill Belichick or anyone else to admit any wrongdoing.
It’s so unfair that this occurs a week before the Super Bowl. Of course this is going to be a distraction to the Patriots. ESPN singlehandedly has given the Seahawks an unbelievable advantage in the Super Bowl. ESPN may very well affect the outcome of this game. Stop ruining sports, ESPN.
The other day, I looked at a poll that indicated nearly 80 percent of the United States believed Bill Belichick and Tom Brady were innocent. Five hours and many slanderous articles later, that poll changed from 80 percent to nearly 20 percent. Congratulations ESPN, you singlehandedly convinced the world to hate Brady and Belichick. ESPN does not realize that Brady and Belichick are people too. They have feelings. They have emotions. Yes, even Bill Belichick has emotions. Yet ESPN treats them as objects, things that the network can just exploit for viewership.
The Pats are not the only team or person to be directly bullied by ESPN. After the botched call that incorrectly determined the outcome of the Packers vs. Seahawks game in 2012, aka “Fail Mary,” the replacement refs were under intense scrutiny. The replacement refs and the “Fail Mary” call in particular were the only things ESPN covered for a whole week. Unfortunately, one of the replacement refs, Lance Easley, has suffered from trauma as a result of the negative reception he endured. According to Yahoo Sports, Easley now suffers from massive panic attacks and depression. He is currently on medical leave from his job with Bank of America. If ESPN, or any sports media network, never made such a big deal out of something so small, a man’s life and happiness would not have been ruined.
How can I enjoy sports when the media dramatizes certain stories and shoves them into my face? How can I enjoy sports when the major stories do not even concern events that take place on the field? How can I enjoy sports when the media destroys the reputation of certain sports organizations and individuals? C’mon man.