Mon. January 28
“Gotcha” Journalism Is Ruining the NFL
The National Football League is an economic and entertainment juggernaut, providing the most competitive, exciting product in the sports world today. It’s a big deal. And although I’m fully aware that it is essentially grown men playing a child’s game for millions of dollars, I love every second of every game of every season.
But just as is the case with my other favorite “hobby”–politics–the sports world in general, and the NFL in particular, is subjugated by some of the most frustratingly feckless media coverage one can imagine.
Of course there are stories that must be covered by any journalist worth a grain of that stuff you sprinkle on popcorn (hint: Mayor Bloomberg wants to ban it), but I’m not thinking of the legitimate headlines about the brain damage professional football can cause. And I’m not referring to the murders, DUIs, domestic abuse charges, suicides, and soap opera-like laundry list of scandals that NFL players and coaches have been parties to in recent years.
What irk me to no end are the countless instances of unnecessary and purposeful distortions on the part of those covering the sport. The times when reporters–most of whom never played a down of organized football or an inning of Little League baseball growing up–fabricate a “controversy” in the locker room or misinterpret the actions of hyper-competitive athletes or inject Left-leaning standard of political correctness into their coverage when it fits a stereotype about something like “white bosses not hiring black employees.”
Everyone’s looking to “break” a big scoop, and I can appreciate that, but when I see (and then actually read) reports like this one from CBS Connecticut and the Associated Press after last weekend’s AFC Championship game, my “someone’s looking for a promotion” receptors kick into over-drive.
“Suggs Goes On Expletive-Laden Tirade Against Pats Following Ravens Win”
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (CBS Connecticut/AP) — A fired-up Terrell Suggs ripped the New England Patriots following the Baltimore Ravens 28-13 AFC Championship win.
According to Yahoo! Sports’ Dan Wetzel, the Ravens linebacker had a few expletive-laden words directed at Bill Belichick and company.
“Tell them to have fun at the Pro Bowl. Arrogant f******,” Suggs said in the locker room.
He then suggested the Patriots’ arrogance has hurt the organization.
“These are the most arrogant p***** in the world, starting with Belichick on down,” Suggs exclaimed.
Wait, so minutes after an emotional win (that sent his team to the Super Bowl) against his biggest rival, an NFL player made some colorful remarks when a reporter jammed a microphone in his face and urged him to vent his frustrations? Hold the presses and someone grab this journalist his first of what I assume will be many Pulitzer’s!
Killer headline, bro! In no way, shape or form was it meant to be inflammatory, right? No controversy-stoking going on here?
The riled player did, though, give credit to the Patriots for their season.
“With how the game last year ended, and who (No.) 12 is, and who their head coach is, and who their owner is … you won’t get another battle like this between two AFC opponents,” Suggs said. “We have the utmost respect for them.”
Wonder why he didn’t lead with this quote?
What Suggs said about New England players and coaches is totally legitimate and accurate in the realm of athletic competition. Of course I wouldn’t personally say that the way he responded was “classy,” but reporters who venture into the locker room after any game have entered a vastly different world than the one you and I live our daily lives in. To hold a room full of aggressive male athletes to the same standard as we would the participants of grade school award ceremony is exceedingly silly.
Over-the-top behavior is never acceptable, but sports being played at that high of a level demand emotional intensity almost none of us are used to on a regular basis (if ever). The media then swoops into this type of environment trying to stoke the flames of inflammatory comments. Lost in the shuffle is any perspective or context because the headline is leading enough to make up most peoples’ minds for them. The whole thing is a big bowl of wrong.
Listen folks, I’m honestly not trying to be nit-picky here, but this type of “Gotcha” journalism is, in my opinion, not healthy for society. It’s cheap and lazy and when used outside of sports, in areas of greater significance like public policy debates, it can actually impact the lives of a nation of 300 million people.
Some say that sports represent a microcosm of the broader culture. If sports journalism represents a similar microcosm for the broader media, we’re all screwed.