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The Media's Distortion of Sports

By hagrin - Posted on 04 August 2006

I witnessed two interesting sports pieces on TV today (both on ESPN).  Both pieces signified (to me at least) the media's intention to create drama and stories at all costs - to the point of inflaming a man's reputation and fabricating drama as news.

First, Terrell Owens had his press conference today.  Although TO should shoulder the brunt of the blame for his current predicament, one statement by his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, rang true.  The media is villifying TO who is at worst a very bad teammate while we are embracing such players such as Jamal Lewis who spent 6 months in prison for drug charges, Ricky Williams who abandoned his team (and cost his coach his job) and Jason Giambi who broke illegal substance laws but was made a hero by his performance on the field.

Last I checked, TO was one of the top 5 in most receiving categories and the Eagles 4-4 record was attributable to the awful play of their quaterback.  Why doesn't his on the field actions translate the same way that they do for the players mentioned above?  The reason - the media needs TO and the drama that surrounds him.  They need those press conferences in the middle of the day to eat up TV time.  They need TO to justify having an entertainment story on a sports network as opposed to in-depth analysis.

Don't believe me?  Well, my second observation proves it in my mind.  Sportscenter has been running segments of simulated press conferences (read completely irrelevant and fake) where Steve Phillips, a man who ran the NY Mets into the ground, plays the roll of GM for a team of ESPN's choosing for that day.  He answers questions from other ESPN reporters (who obviously have nothing else to do) in a manner to create hype and excitement for a sport that doesn't even start up for another 4.5 months.  What happened to sitting behind a desk and giving analysis backed by stats being shown to the viewer?

The 2 above points don't even address the ridiculousness that is the ESPN Hollywood show that runs prime time on ESPN2.  The sports media industry has incorrectly blurred the line between sports and entertainment to the point of having to fabricate stories that fit this agenda.