In case you missed it this weekend, Oklahoma State beat Texas Tech 49-45 in one of the most exciting college football games you are likely to see this year. Somehow, OSU coach Mike Gundy, upstaged that game during his post game press conference responding to a column in the Oklahoman you can read HERE. Mike Gundy’s response:
Predictably, all of the media types on ESPN used the clip over and over and just called this guy a clown. What a shock… Forde, Paige, Cowlishaw, Plaschke, Mariotti, Rome, Wise, Siciliano, and any other ‘reporter’ employed by the WWL, rips this guy for attacking another reporter. All of them quietly agreed that the reporter in question shouldn’t have questioned the OSU QB’s toughness or character, but then moved on the offensive to discredit the messenger.
I find it amusing and disgusting that the preeminent sports ‘reporting’ conglomerate in the US is more concerned about defending its own interests than actually getting to the root of this issue. Here’s the deal: ESPN doesn’t really want to spend the money to put out quality sports programming (ex. broadcasting more mid day baseball/basketball/soccer, etc. games). That would cost ESPN more money, because they would have to negotiate rights fees, pay more broadcasters and have more production costs. What do they do instead? They have brought sports talk radio/barroom conversation to the television under the guise of sports reporting. Let’s examine how much money ESPN really wants to spend by it’s programming lineup.
The previous day’s one hour Sportscenter is replayed from 5-12 (that’s 8 times)!! 1/3 of the entire day is taken up by a repeat of the same show! They are then placing ‘The Contender’ on for an hour, followed by ‘The best of Mike and Mike’. That is a 1/2 hour show that is nothing but a repeat of what was shown on ESPN2 in the morning. They then have 1st and 10 for 1/2 an hour to ‘discuss’ the hot sports topics of the day. ESPN advertizes this on their own website as having Crawford or Jacobsen ‘referee the always heated discussion’. Skip Bayless usually blows a gasket and throws someone under the bus every show. You’ll have to excuse me, I didn’t know that heated discussion = journalism. Next is the last bastion of journalism on the network, as Bob Ley hosts Outside the Lines, a great investigative journalism show which does a ton of great work. The problem with this show, is that many people are so turned off by the din of shouting that has come before or will come next that they don’t watch as much as they should. It is MY belief that this show should be moved into the slot previous to the 6pm Sportscenter (or even move Sportcenter back to 6:30 and put this at 6:00. Typically 2 football shows are next which take up an hour. Then the big 3 are next. Jim Rome brings his radio show to the air, where he’s just regurgitating his ‘takes’ from his radio show, then bringing on 2 ‘guests’ on ‘The Forum’ segment to discuss some of his earlier takes. 90% of the guests are listed as journalists or reporters. What they are asked to do, however is not to report, but speculate on topics. Next is Around the Horn, where 4 journalists from around the country are asked to give their opinions on sports topics of the day. The ARGUMENTS are scored. Whoever gives the best argument according to the mediator moves on later and later in the show. Last is PTI. I actually love watching PTI. Kornheiser and Wilbon make for interesting TV, but again, they’re just giving opinions on the events of the day. Of the above 3 shows, most of the ‘arguments’ are about the same topics. Then from 6pm – 2am, 4 more Sportscenters are shown. That’s 14.5 of 22 hours of programming that they could keep ‘in house’.
Journalists while still getting paid, will go on these shows for less than it would cost for a ‘real show’ because these reporters know that they are getting more exposure to a national audience, which raises their stature in the sports community as an opinion maker/swayer. The way you become a more prominent figure on these shows is to become more outlandish than the next person beside you (see Woody Paige) or just talk over them or shout them down (see Jay Mariotti). The point is that these ‘reporters’ have an agenda to enrich themselves, not to be journalists first. They all see the gravy train in front of them and want it to continue for as long as possible. So when someone like Mike Gundy actually calls them out on a story, he’s taking on the institution of journalism and by extension, people who are involved in the journalism process. He is being seen by these ‘reporters’ as attacking a ‘reporter’s’ opinion. “Well, hell, we can’t have THAT, opinions is what’s putting bread on my table and giving me exposure through ESPN!!” It’s a complete joke, and I wish more coaches would call reporters out for putting opinion out as fact in their papers/columns/blogs.
For another opinion on this subject, read Jason Whitlock’s column HERE.