Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Sports Media

I'm a huge sports fan. Gargantuan even. During the annual sports drought (April-July) I follow hockey, soccer and baseball spring camps while counting down the days to the NFL preseason just to satisfy my year round need for sports. That's why the peak sports season (August-March) is so important to me. So when I turn on ESPN and all I see is news of suspensions, steroids and players' legal issues, it upsets me.

By now we all know of Plaxico Burress' situation. The New York Giants' star wideout is facing felony weapon charges after accidentally shooting himself in the leg with a concealed .40 Glock handgun in a Manhattan club last Friday night. If you don't know about this, you don't watch sports. Or TV. Or read.

If you haven't heard yet (you will), O.J. Simpson was sentenced to a minimum nine years (varying reports on the exact number) in federal prison this morning for armed robbery. Wait. Hold on...more breaking news from the sports media. This just in - O.J. Simpson hasn't played professional football since 1979! Let CNN cover it.

With that out of the way, it's time for some BCS debating or Tyler Hansbrough bashing, right? Nope. ESPN is broadcasting Sean Avery's comments that fellow NHL players, specifically Calgary defenseman Dion Phaneuf, fall in love with his "sloppy seconds," referring to ex-girlfriend Elisha Cuthbert. It's a little odd, certainly timely and involves a sports star. OK. It can qualify as sports news. But do we need to hear about it at the top and bottom of each hour? I think not.

It would be one thing if we were experiencing a critical shortage of sports news. But we're not. On the contrary, we are saturated with sports news! The NFL season features some of the tightest playoff races we've seen in some time, and the perennial superpowers aren't at the top. The NFC South's top three teams, all in playoff contension, are a combined 26-10, equal to the top three teams in the preseason favorite NFC East (that's with the New York Giants at 11-1).

It's bowl season in college football for crying out loud! The BCS and national championship game are under scrutiny again with three Big 12 teams making claim to the conference championship game and ultimately the national title game. Lets not forget the ECU Pirates, this year's Boise State for the first month - then Boise State showed up. The Pirates and Tulsa play for the CUSA championship tomorrow at noon. Who knew? This weekend also features the SEC, ACC, MAC and Big 12 title games.

The NBA is off to a great start - the Lakers are 15-2 and the Celtics are 18-2. Feels like the 80's. This league is in the midst of a rebirth and yet it makes up (guesstimation) no more than 15 percent of ESPN's coverage. About as much as Plaxico Burress.

So why all the non-game related news? Is it a result of 24 hour sports news media like ESPN that there is a self-inflicted need for sports news material at all times? Hence that broken record feeling I get everytime I turn to channel 29 in the Charlotte market. Or could this be an extension of reality TV and our society's infatuation with celebrity status, which more and more athletes are reaching?

It could be all of the above. But in as much as the above factors contribute to non-sports related sports news, so does the modern day professional athlete. More and more we hear "projects to professional postseason" stories and the effects that youth, ridiculous amounts of money and near limitless freedom have on today's rising stars (Sports Illustrated gives great insight into "ghetto loyalty" as a result of Michael Vick's dog fighting charges). If this is what sports stars are engaging in, this is what sports media will cover.

I have a suggestion. This is for the sports media, agents, parents, sponsors, fans, coaches and yes, the players. Ready? Very simple. Three words that could return the sport into sports: Play. The. Game.

No comments:

Post a Comment