ESPN – Blinded By The Light

ESPN

Why do we constantly talk about Tim Tebow?  Are LeBron James and Jay Cutler really such bad people?  Are the NFL personal foul calls that terrible?  These are just some of the questions that have been asked redundantly, skewed, or answered by ESPN and other sports networks in such a way that creates the image now perceived by the public.

The majority of the public does not recognize ESPN is owned by Disney, which is a business with the ultimate goal of making money. The purpose of this article is not to detract from ESPN’s success or prominence, but to enlighten viewers to their ulterior motives and recommend alternative outlets.

As most of us know, any television network’s success is driven by advertisements that are dependent on ratings.  ESPN is crafty in its way of creating ratings and the main technique it utilizes is creating controversy amongst all sports.  To enhance viewership, they present ruffles within the most highly watched sport at the most scrutinized position — the quarterback.  What other person to plug relentlessly than Tim Tebow?

Tim Tebow is a pop culture and  sports marketing god that carries a fan base similar to that of a boy band.  Try asking a diehard Backstreet Boys fan what they think of Nsync.  Tebow carries a following in person and on Twitter, similar to a cult. Daily, notorious ESPN troll Skip Bayless sets the controversial tone by shoving Tebow in your face, driving the pop culture icon to the front pages, causing unfair media questions and scrutiny upon his incumbent.  Theoretically, Tebow is Super Mario after eating the mushroom; however, those mushrooms are not permanent, and no one wants Tebow when his mushroom wears off.

Educated people within the NFL circle recognize the above, but still continue to publicly loathe the discussion.  How many times do you hear one of your friends say, “I can’t stand Skip Bayless!”?

Ever wonder why we think of LeBron and Jay Cutler the way we do?  Where is the origin of their disapproval?  First, LeBron held the most pompous press conference announcing his decision with one of the greatest lines in sports of the twenty-first century: “I’m taking my talents to South Beach.”  The event and phrase itself deserved at least a few months of scrutiny.  On top of the initial pressure of being the most highly touted player coming into the league in history, LeBron held his press conference creating ESPN’s dream scenario (insert conspiracy theory here).  Not only did ESPN cover this buzz relentlessly, but upon the start of training camp they ran a completely separate website for the Miami Heat titled the “Heat Index”.  Let me repeat, ESPN who covers the entire sporting WORLD, issued a webpage covering a SINGLE team in the NBA (http://espn.go.com/nba/truehoop/miamiheat/).  People wanted their insight on any down moment for LeBron, and ESPN presented every flaw, while creating buzz around the entire country.

Next, Smokin’ Jay Cutler has been considered one of the most controversial QBs in the NFL, and honestly, this can probably be traced back to two legitimate reasons for his troubling reputation.  The first and biggest reason was his decision to sit out of 2011 NFC playoff game with a knee injury. Some athletes, including Cardinals DE Darnell Dockett and Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew, took to Twitter to announce their disapproval, stating that they’d play with the knee injury. The next issue was Culter’s cross-field rant with Phillip Rivers back in 2007. It could be interpreted that Cutler was being incredibly immature in this incident because Rivers’ Chargers were rolling.  Honestly, being an avid sports fan, there is absolutely nothing that Cutler has done to deserve such harsh media scrutiny outside of having a semi-accurate canon of an arm with a back pedal as a drop back.  Is his posture not that of a leader?  Please, and Belichick’s is?  He happens to grab water after a mistake and walks by his boss.  Please enlighten me of a single person that does not get frustrated in his or her working environment.  Does he look mad after getting sacked 7 times in a game?  I ask you to face Jared Allen with the Bears’ left tackle twice a year.  Furthermore, the chatter of him being a below-average quarterback can entirely be put to rest after a week and a half of Jason Campbell.  ESPN has taken his minor altercations and created controversy with a guy who, until this season, has had zero weapons at receiver and still has no offensive line.  Want a controversy?  See Tom Jackson convey his Denver Broncos grudge on national television here:

Each of these aforementioned athletes has done absolutely nothing off the playing surface to trigger the criticism they receive.  Each of these people has conducted themselves in a manner that represents their organization with class, even donating to charities.  Kobe and Big Ben are the star children again, but what about during their little frisky incidents?  It is particularly interesting that those incidents have not surfaced again because that would detract from game views or result in ticket losses. These athletes are unfairly judged in their workplace in order to drive ratings benefitting the business plan of ESPN.

Tonight on this SportsCenter’s made-up headline, “LeBron and Heat slumping, Cutler moping, and is Tebow the short-term answer for the Jets– right now!”  A completely false headline, but extremely believable.  You are now hooked and SportsCenter just opened.

Lastly, there has been a tremendous amount of conversation regarding the new NFL rule changes and the amount of “defenseless receiver” and “roughing the passer” calls that have recently been made.  Every day, ESPN, FOX, NBC, and CBS present this topic of whether this is impeding into the game play, and all the analysts that were former players uniformly agree that it does.  Analysts acknowledge the fact the league is looking out for players’ safety, but they all consistently leave out one critical point. The NFL is currently facing BILLIONS of dollars in concussion negligence lawsuits from a multitude of former players.  If they were to budge on any kind of stance regarding these issues, they would lose a tremendous amount of legal leverage which would be detrimental to the league and ultimately us, the fans.

Hypothetical situation: you are the owner of a small business that is facing a sexual harassment lawsuit. During that time, you determine it would be smart to reevaluate the procedures for your employees and enforce them more strictly.   Now, the judge can be more lenient and realize you are a competent owner.  Smart, right?  I know.

Has that picture ever been painted to the public regarding the new NFL safety rules?  No.  Why?  It would come close to burying the story leaving Skip Bayless and ESPN’s NFL Live with nothing to stir up on a Wednesday other than more Tebow and Cutler talk.

It should be noted that sports entertainment and talk radio thrive on controversy, rankings and conflict.  Any show on ESPN or NBC would not be in business without analyzing or creating some sort of controversy.  I, along with all of the sports community, will continue to watch our favorite shows that help formulate our own opinions on issues.  To resolve this issue, I suggest that you diversify your media outlets.

If you only watch Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, your views are obviously leaning in one direction.  If your only sporting intake is Skip Bayless and Steven A. Smith, then you have been exposed to a finite size of information.   To enhance this on the sporting side, much like in finance, diversify your portfolio of sports knowledge each morning by taking in a portion of Colin Cowherd’s show and Dan Patrick’s show.  If you are a West Coast late riser and indulge in some lunchtime viewing, you can flip between ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption and CBS’ Jim Rome.  It can be quite enlightening to hear two completely different perspectives when one of those despises the “Mothership”.

We all remember the high school essays of compare and contrast, which forced us to comprehend all sides of an issue, but we tend to lose this perspective as we get older.  These foundational values of debating or becoming a knowledgeable person can be lost amid the opinions forced upon us, but there is always an alternative side to any story.  Although the most powerful outlet presents a certain perspective, it does not necessarily mean it should be your opinion, it is the correct opinion, or is the underlying issue of the topic (i.e. NFL concussions).

In short, I encourage all of you to continue to watch ESPN as much as I do, but please maintain perspective of the big picture while watching it.  If you get mad at Skip Bayless, take a breath, and realize that’s exactly what ESPN wants you to do, move on, and look for an alternative opinion.  If you do not like Jay Cutler, just gather yourself and recognize that your hatred is either driven by ESPN or merely a personal problem.  For future viewing, I recommend you to become more educated on the topic by opening yourself up to different sports information dispensaries rather than simply watching ESPN and immediately posting to Facebook or Twitter in outrage because you are only contributing to the irrational, uneducated audience in which ESPN is aiming.

____________________________________________________________________________
Thank you for reading The Cover 4! Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook & Twitter.

Oh yeah, tell your friends too!

Long Island Sound
Sports Activist for The Cover 4
http://www.facebook.com/thecover4
http://www.twitter.com/thecover4

America’s Favorite Pastime: Past its Time

Derek Jeter isn’t the only one upset about the state of the MLB right now.

The Cover 4 will feature a number of writers to cover a variety of topics. This article is by our very own Long Island Sound, Sports Activist.

It can easily be seen throughout sports and pop culture in America that the NFL, NBA, and soccer are on the rise, and the once glorified sport of baseball is on the decline.  No one finds this more unfortunate and painful to present than yours truly, but the days of Peter Gammons and Timmy K are now gone.

As a preface, society in general has become faster and faster over the last decade.  Information cannot come quicker.  First, the email. Next, the text message. Now, the capability to do both on a phone.  Need to scan? Oh, there is an app for that.  Any project from construction to video game development cannot be produced fast enough because owners want their new toy to sell to consumers.  With all of the enhancements and societal shifts, baseball has happened to stand pat with regards to technology while providing a slower product.

Taking the sports on the rise individually, developments can be seen in each aspect that generate its current prominence.

The most watched and followed sport right now is the NFL.  Some may ask why?  “South Park” portrayed it best by every child in America can be diagnosed with ADD by a doctor, but the fact is we have a very limited attention span as humans.  Each NFL team only plays 16 games, ultimately resulting in every game being important.  Each Sunday (Thursday and Monday now) there is an underlying story other than winning and division standings.  For example, the Colts played the Titans last week.  Was that the Game of the Week for CBS? No, but people wanted to watch Andrew Luck develop. Is Chris Johnson done, and is Jake Locker a NFL quarterback?  How did that game turn-out?  Each and every game on the schedule presents an underlying story that is watchable.  Also, the sky rocketing of fantasy football has only driven popularity; making neutral office workers tune in for work place bragging rights.  Plus, when was the last time you watched a Marlins vs. Astros game?  2003, when the Killer Bs took on Beckett, Burnett, and Dontrelle?  Exactly.  ALMOST A DECADE AGO.

Next, the NBA has fallen into its greatest player class since the days of Magic and Bird.  Jordan carried the league through all of the 90s to hand it off to Shaq, Kobe, and the Spurs.  Beginning with Kobe and now LeBron, the NBA has aligned itself into mega-powers across the corners of the nation.  From Miami, LA, NY/Brooklyn, and OKC, the NBA has founded powerhouses throughout the country with competitive markets in-between much like an equally balanced Risk board.  Also, the underprivileged, athletic youth in America tend to take on basketball because of the minimal price to play. All you need is a ball and hoop.  A great amount of young athletes are now taking to the NFL and NBA, which diminishes the actual athletic talent pool from baseball.  It can be argued the MLB actually has Triple A teams in the majors.  The Houston Astros are a minor league team with a hill in centerfield.

Lastly, this may come as a surprise to some but soccer is on the rise in the US.  The common argument with soccer is that team USA is not globally competitive. While this statement has been true of past teams, USA has arguably become a better team in the recent decade.  It may come as a surprise to some but a large portion of the recent successes of Soccer in America can be attributed to the EA Sports FIFA video game series.  The FIFA series has gained steam in the past five to six years; gaining a large followership across the country. Concurrently, playing the game increases fans knowledge of the game and players, while conveying the intricate skill of the sport.

Soccer is 90 minutes (+/- 5) with a 20 minute half.  One can leave their house in 110 minutes guaranteed (not a cup game in this situation).  We all know the common exchange, “When are you heading over?” Typical reply, “After the game!”  If that game is Red Sox vs Yankees, that could be 2.5 hours if ’07 Beckett shows up or 4.5 hours is Dice-K and Phil Hughes get after it; that just does not work for us anymore.  Today, everything we download has a defined “time remaining”.  Twitter has 140 characters; short and sweet.  We are a right now culture that is phasing out the leisurely “watch a ball game” because we have things to do with limited time.  Additionally, the advancement of technology has made information and knowledge transfer faster, but the amount of information demanded has increased with it and those expectations are burdensome.

Overall, it hurts to admit, but baseball is behind the times of right now.  Growing up playing and loving baseball, the product that is presented on a day-to-day basis does not suffice with 162 games defining a regular season.  To quote Colin Cowherd, “Baseball is like the stubborn Grandfather who still doesn’t have internet, it’s not cute anymore; just old.”

Long Island Sound

The Cover 4 Featured Sports Analysis

http://www.facebook.com/Schlegel22?fref=ts

%d bloggers like this: