Football Mythbusters: Jason Whitlock's Article About ESPN and Ball State
MYTH: "the World Wide Leader(ESPN) is the most evil and destructive force in the sports world. It has driven and hastened the destruction of authentic, independent, democratic, courageous sports journalism." - Jason Whitlock, Nov. 26, 2008
FACT: Close, but no cigar, Mr. Whitlock. I have as much love for ESPN as you do, but I think you're unintentionally giving the rest of the media a free pass here.
Note to readers: I suggest you read Whitlock's article here: http://msn.foxsports.com/cfb/story/8853534/The-story-ESPN-doesn%27t-want-you-to-know, in order to fully understand what I'm talking about in my article.
Whitlock, while discussing how underrated he feels Ball State is, pretty much blasts ESPN completely, criticizing their lack of fair coverage and journalistic integrity. For the most part, I agree with him about ESPN, though they do have a few amount of writers I like.
However, everything Whitlock says applies not just to ESPN, but to major sports journalism in general.
There seems to be an unspoken consenus among sports media regarding most subjects: consider all the Heisman "frontrunners" or NFL power rankings.
The teams and players that you see listed as the best are usually the ones that announcers and color commentators want you to consider the best.
Consider the following: who won the MVP of Super Bowl XLII? A Manning. Though New York's spectacular upset win relied more on defense than quarterback play, a big-name celebrity got the award.
Anybody who watched the Super Bowl closely could tell you that Eli Manning didn't win the game for the Giants; the Giants' defensive line won that game.
They hammered Tom Brady and controlled the line of scrimmage. Not only that, but they kept a record-setting offense in check, allowing only two touchdowns.
When the Giants and Patriots faced off on the final Saturday of the 2007 regular season, it was all about the quarterbacks, and Manning played fantastically. However, the Patriots proved that they could not be beaten in an offensive shootout, beating the Giants 38-35.
When the defense controlled the tempo of the game, the Giants won. All Eli Manning had to do was avoid making costly mistakes.
Yet the MVP award, which should've gone to one of New York's offensive linemen, went to Eli Manning, whose receivers bailed him out multiple times on that game-winning drive that he "led."
David Tyree's amazing catch? Wouldn't have been so amazing if Eli had delivered the pass accurately. It would've been a routine catch, very easy to hold onto.
But enough about last season's Super Bowl; let's talk about some of this season's media bias.
When the Titans were 10-0, Tennessee defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth was causing people to speculate if he would be the first defensive MVP since Lawrence Taylor.
This speculation was rightly caused, as the defense anchored the Titans and led them incredibly far without the help of a spectacular offense.
Haynesworth was injured with a concussion against the Jaguars in week one, and he hasn't played a full game since then. However, he's still been able to dominate the game. This man was a monster.
As soon as Tennessee lost their first game, numerous networks, especially CBS, were referring to New York Bretts, I mean New York Jets, DT Kris Jenkins as the frontrunner for Defensive Player of the Year. I saw this and had only one question to ask.
Are you serious?
One good game against the Titans means more than 10 good games played while injured? What a joke.
Until a couple of weeks ago, the Bretts' defense couldn't stop anyone. Now, if you believe what you read, all of the sudden they're better than a defense that consistently batters opponents.
Think of the "frontrunners" for the MVP award: Drew Brees, Brett Favre, and Kurt Warner.
Drew Brees is putting up big yardage, but the Saints are still 6-6. Big numbers do not make an MVP. But because of today's fantasy-football-obsessed fan base, stats are more important than winning games.
Also, since Reggie Bush was drafted and over-hyped, pundits love picking New Orleans to win. The fact remains, though, that New Orleans is subpar and Drew Brees isn't carrying them.
Favre is a big name in a big market. Combine this with all the coverage he got this summer, and it's a no-brainer that the media wants him to succeed.
As far as Warner, look at it this way: he plays in the NFC West, the most pitiful division in the NFL. He is throwing to Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. He should be putting up big numbers AND winning a lot of games.
The fact that the Cardinals didn't do this last year or the year before is moreso a testament to Matt Leinart's failure than Kurt Warner's "greatness." But his career is a feel-good story, and he really is a great person, so the media adores him.
The mainstream sports media picks and chooses what it wants to cover. Thankfully, there are journalists like Whitlock who are unafraid to speak their mind, who characterize journalistic integrity, and who are not afraid to discuss not just sports but pressing social issues.
Unfortunately, Whitlock's excellent article was ignored by the mainstream media, with the exception of Fox Sports, who feature him now that he's no longer with ESPN.
If ESPN was the only source of bad coverage, maybe other networks would've looked at his article and commented on its validity.
However, the fact that almost every major sports network completely ignored him just goes to show the problem is not just ESPN, but all mainstream sports media.
Independent thinkers like those at Bleacher Report are our best hope of independent thought in today's closed-minded sports media. Get out there, write some articles, and make your opinions heard, regardless of unconventional they are.
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