Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Why Sports Media Fail The Steroid Question

ESPN Doesn't Want To Bite The Hand That Feeds

Sports media in this country seems to have a collective amnesia to the findings of the San Francisco Chronicle when it reported that Barry Bonds testified to using performance-enhancing drugs, the Senate however, was far more forthright with stating the obvious.

The senator from Virginia, George Allen, a possible presidential candidate in 2008, made a biting reference to Bonds, who has denied using steroids: "As far as Hank Aaron is concerned, if a certain player breaks his home run record, it's not a question of an asterisk. ... There probably ought to be an 'RX' next to it."

Home Run King, Henry Aaron and another Hall of Famer, Robin Roberts also alluded to the obvious fact that Bonds and his run at the greatest record in baseball is a sham.

Said Aaron, "That's going to be left up to the commissioner and the rules committee. They would probably have to go back and look at some of those things that happened."

Roberts, the former Philadelphia Phillie great, even went so far as to wonder whether Bonds is still using steroids to this day.

"He's still hitting homeruns...He's probably still using them."

Why is there this disconnect when the evidence that Bonds used steroids is already known and the media is reluctant to report it fully?

One possible reason is sports news programs acting as if they employ journalistic standards when in fact the sports league's run the entire operation. Without the National Football League, Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association sports entities like ESPN and Fox Sports Net revert to the programming of the early 1980s--drag racing and tractor pull competitions.

Today, ESPN's anchor program--SportsCenter--is far longer in length, at the same time, containing far less in-depth reporting. You would think a news organization would strive to be there at every scoop. In fact, ESPN has tanked on every major sports news story this year.

Why is this? ESPN does not look for news, it gobbles it second hand. A sitting of SportsCenter contains a full plate of talking heads who, in effect, pass their opinions as news. Throw in commercialized segements like the "Budweiser Hot Seat" and you have a organzations lacking in journalistic independence.

When news becomes the byproduct of opinion and hawking beer, the line between good journalism and a guy writing a blog on the internet becomes dangerously blurred.

1 comment:

Pops said...

Good post, but you forget- ESPN stands for Entertainment and Sports Programming Network- at no time do the words news, journalism, or investigate enter the picture-

It's entertainment- nothing more.

The real shame is when so-called "journalists" from what should be respected news organizations gloss over the facts or throw them at players with the purpose of obtaining an angry quote for a sound bite.

We need Geraldo to get to the bottom of this.