Super Bowl Sunday takes control of media coverage for at least two weeks before the game is even played and all that anyone can talk about is #deflategate, and by anyone I mean ESPN. “How much did the balls weigh? How much are they supposed to weigh? The New England Patriots are a tainted franchise.” These are all questions and statements that are being shoved down our throats on television and the Internet. Upon arriving to Arizona (Where the Super Bowl will be played) the Seattle Seahawks addressed the media and of course they were asked Deflategate and the person who pointed out the conflict of interest between the league’s commissioner, Roger Goodell, and the New England Patriots’ owner, Robert Kraft, was not a journalist, but Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman.
There was a picture posted of Goodell with Kraft at one of Kraft’s parties the night before the AFC Championship game and as someone who does not follow the NFL, the Patriots, Goodell or Kraft on any social media, this was news to me. It explained more than anything an ESPN “expert” or Bill Nye the Science Guy could say because this just solidifies that nothing will happen to the Patriots, except maybe a fine for however much Kraft has in his wallet at the time.
This plays into a theme that reoccurs a lot at ESPN. The two biggest sports headlines (Ray Rice, Donald Sterling) in 2014 had to be reported with the stipulation of “Obtained by TMZ” from ESPN and the Sterling situation is the only time I had seen ESPN put pressure on an organization or league to bring justice to the then owner of the Los Angeles Clippers. Before NBA Commissioner Adam Silver could even whip out disciplinary measures on Sterling, ESPN had strong reactions from former and current players and other influential figures in the sports world. We already knew what was going to happen to Sterling before it even happened.
When it comes to the other issues ESPN doesn’t seem to realize how much influence they have on the multi-billion dollar industry of sports. They also don’t seem to get that people see them as journalists first, but they have decided to take the role as hype machine. In the case of Rice, TMZ was putting more pressure on the NFL than ESPN.
Do you ever watch ESPN and ask yourself “What the fuck am I watching? What are these grown men yelling at each other about?”
It didn’t take that much to show a picture posted on the Internet of Goodell and Kraft. It would take some footwork to obtain an elevator video from a casino where an NFL player knock out his girlfriend, but that’s the job of a journalist. I’m not TMZ’s biggest fan but Danny Ferry probably lays awake at night in fear of TMZ, and rightfully so, he’s the only reason why I’m not happy for the Atlanta Hawks who are currently sitting No. 1 in the Eastern Conference.
Jameis Winston’s rape accusation is another prime example of ESPN reporting a headline, but not digging deeper. The Tampa Bay Times and the New York Times both did in-depth investigative reports on the allegation and found some disturbing information about Florida State University and the Tallahassee Police Department.
Sadly, ESPN has turned its back on professional players and have gone on their knees to serve leagues and owners. Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel did a report on marijuana in the NFL that uncovered that the pills prescribed by team doctors lead to horrible side effects for many players, including kidney failure. Former athletes talk about how they resorted to alternative medicine, marijuana in particular, helped them cope with the pain without the side effects. Yesterday, we found out Josh Gordon of the Cleveland Browns will probably be facing a year suspension after testing positive for alcohol, something he was not allowed to test positive for after receiving discipline for testing positive for marijuana. Unfortunately, no ESPN anchor, reporter, expert or personality has stuck up for Gordon or called out the NFL’s backwards drug policy. Instead we have “experts” and personalities calling him stupid.
There’s plenty of sites on the Web that are having conversations about pertinent issues in sports, but the sports world that we live in today that has a new controversy every week and we need voices on the only major sports network to shift sports culture from where it’s at to a culture that questions authority and blasphemous rules.