ESPN personalities exploring outer limits of jocksniffery

Matt TarrContributor IAugust 28, 2009

So here’s a simple question for new ESPN ombudsman Don Ohlmeyer that crossed my mind while subjecting myself to 30 seconds of a recent “Mike and Mike in the Morning” radio show:

Why is it that, as a casual viewer of the Four-Letter Word’s pantheon of networks, I can name the favorite teams of no less than 10 of the company’s on-air journalists/entertainers/personalities/anchors? Don’t you think this sort of rampant fanboy self-interest might have a smidgen of an impact on ESPN’s perceived credibility as a news and information source? (Since we’re guessing Mr. Ohlmeyer will likely never stumble across our humble domain, we figured we might as well offer a follow-up question he won’t answer, too.)

Hell, I can remember being assailed by my first sports editor back in the day for simply wearing a sweatshirt of a team I didn’t even particularly care about one way or the other. As he deftly (albeit gruffly) pointed out, perception is reality in journalism. If your audience perceives that you have a bias, then the ramifications are just as toxic as they would be if the bias truly existed. And when your on-air personalities seem all too happy to share their personal allegiances with the audience, well … credibility is impossible. Some might suggest that because ESPN tends to focus on entertainment programming rather than news, that they aren’t required to be held to the same standard. I would suggest that the opposite is true. The more often you tip-toe back and forth across the entertainment line, the more credible you need to appear when presenting actual news.

I don’t begrudge their on-air personalities for having teams they root for … I’m just not sure why I should be able to rattle them off the top of my head and yet still take them seriously.

But enough of that, let’s move on to the fun part. Here’s the list I came up with (feel free to add any I missed in the comments section):

- Stuart Scott | North Carolina Tar Heels

- Mike Greenberg | New York Jets

- Scott Van Pelt | Maryland Terrapins

- Rece Davis | Alabama Crimson Tide

- Erin Andrews | Florida Gators

- Mike Tirico | Detroit Tigers

- Erik Kuselias | Boston Celtics

- Amy Lawrence | Denver Broncos

- John Seibel | Cincinnati Bengals

- Linda Cohn | New York Mets

- John Anderson | Missouri Tigers

- Colin Cowherd | Washington Huskies | Seattle Seahawks | Seattle Mariners