Source of photo: ESPN.com
I’m a sports fan.
I used to be a sports fanatic.
Of course, “fan” is short for fanatic, but there is a difference between being a fan of a team, player, or sport and being fanatical about the same.
I’m a lifelong fan of the Dallas Cowboys (I’m a native of the DFW Metroplex), but ever since the dreaded “catch/no catch” call in the 2014 NFC divisional round vs the Green Bay Packers, I realized just how much of a business the National Football League is and how profitable it is for all 32 teams to manipulate the outcomes of its games. I wrote a blog post about this at the beginning of this pro football season regarding the veracity of the sport, so I won’t rehash that point in this post. However, the points made in that post are the basis upon which I wish to build the case for my point in this post.
While I’m a realist about the business aspects of professional sports, I’m no less of a sports fan. I still find the games entertaining, I simply enjoy the games for what they are…
That means that as an informed consumer of said entertainment, I am not nearly as emotionally invested in the games as in years past.
That said, I find the so-called “talking heads” on sports television and radio shows an interesting lot. They engage in more misinformed opinions and contrived drama than the political pundits you see trading barbs and peddling political ideology do.
Shows like ESPN’s First Take and FS1’s First Things First drum up more contrived drama about certain teams and players than a soap opera and show outsized bias towards certain teams, namely and chiefly the New England Patriots and Dallas Cowboys, that you’d forget that there were 30 other teams in the NFL to talk about.
Some of these shows may as well have Dallas Cowboys somewhere in the show title.
Granted, the Cowboys are the most valuable sports franchise in the world (the New England Patriots are a close second), so it seems logical that the sports pundits would give them an outsized amount of attention. However, to the uninitiated football fan, this fact and how it drives sports media is lost upon them, and that is precisely the point.
Sports media lost its integrity when they unceremoniously blackballed the legendary Howard Cosell for actually reporting on sports, you know, like a SPORTS REPORTER?!?!
Sports media today are merely the mouthpieces and gatekeepers of the sports leagues with whom they are financial partners. A media outlet or a particular commentator who reports something the leagues don’t like or fails to drum up enough drama to boost the ratings for the games and the networks will soon find themselves on the outside looking in. The end result is a propaganda machine that masquerades as honest journalism or sincere criticism.
One must view sports media in the same vein as professional sports should be viewed…
As unserious entertainment.
-The Rational Ram