In today’s day and age, no matter what field you’re talking about, a business, the media, you name it, it’s all about production. That’s all that really counts. Are we putting forth our best product, pleasing customers, and ultimately accumulating dollars? That’s what it boils down to. However, at some point, there is a line in which businesses, in this case the media, can jeopardize the quality and sometimes credibility of the product- in an attempt to boost their ratings.
Recently, ESPN has had some eyebrow-raising instances on some of their shows, which have caused their fair share of controversy and conversation. This raises the question: is ESPN doing their job efficiently when these instances happen, or are they trying to boost their ratings by sparking debate even if it crosses the line at times?
Most notably, it was Rob Parker, a guest analyst occasionally on ESPN’s First Take- a debate-centered show on which Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless can bring up good points for fans to chew on, but it also tends to flirt with the line and sometimes beats issues into the ground. They like to bring up controversial issues, such as race, to prove they’re not scared to talk about them (summarizing their reasoning). In talking about Robert Griffin III and the issue of race in the game, Parker mentioned that Griffin was “not black enough” or “down with the cause,” mentioning that he was a Republican and had a white girlfriend. This sparked a wave of rebuttals from all around the media world, as well as forcing ESPN to suspend Parker indefinitely.
Next, ESPN NFL analyst Merril Hoge, who has always been super critical of the playing abilities of Tim Tebow, moved from criticizing Tebow on the field to bluntly attacking and questioning his character. After anonymous reports of Tebow telling Coach Rex Ryan he no longer wanted to play in the “wildcat” package after Ryan named Greg McElroy the starter instead of Tebow, Hoge called Tebow “as phony as a three-dollar-bill,” criticizing his character and his status of being the ultimate team-oriented guy. Adam Schefter and Ron Jaworski, who were in the segment along with Hoge, were much more objective about the issue, reporting what Tebow actually said to them and looking at his side of the situation as well, and they seemed to take the report from “sources” with a grain of salt.
In response to Hoge’s comments, Tebow repeatedly said he never quit on his teammates. Furthermore, he went on to address the comments saying, “For people to not know the situation and then start to bash your character and then say you’re a phony or you’re a fake or you’re a hypocrite, I think that’s what’s disappointing and that’s what’s frustrating.” Exactly what Merrill Hoge has against Tebow we’ll probably never know, but it is obvious he wanted his comments to be heard loud and clear, and they have, sending ripples throughout all the media world, as he went straight for the jugular and reputation of one of the game’s most popular players. Maybe he should keep more of his personal frustrations to himself, or just work on his tie… too good to go unshared.
More recently, ESPN’s NFL analyst Lomas Brown made headlines for himself with comments he made in an interview on ESPN radio in late December, admitting that he purposefully whiffed on a block out of frustration in a 1994 game with the intent of getting his quarterback knocked out of the game. He succeeded, as his quarterback Scott Mitchell left with a broken finger. Brown’s comments came across almost boastful, and he showed no remorse, which is disgraceful, especially to talk about betraying a teammate, not to mention the motive of injury, for the world to hear. Brown, who later apologized for his comments on ESPN, is ironically suing the NFL for not doing enough to protect players from concussions.
With all of this said, I am by no means insinuating that ESPN is terrible at what they do or should totally revamp the way they do things, especially after mentioning the comments of just three employees. I am an avid watcher, and I understand the irony of me being critical of comments a few people made, but all of us at some point have to take self-inventory and examine what our purpose is and how effectively we’re doing it. ESPN, quite frankly, dominates the sports media world in this country, and in effect can seemingly do and talk about whatever they want. Just one example of this has been the Tebowmania, when Doug Gottlieb, who then worked for ESPN, admittedly was told “You can’t talk enough Tebow.”
The network of ESPN is there to “serve sports fans,” (to quote their mission statement) which is done by reporting sports stories and providing analysis on these stories, and for the most part they do a good job. But recently it seems that they have spent almost as much time making headlines as they have reporting them.
So, in closing…
We don’t want you to create the news… just relay it.
By: Philip Matthews