Welcome to the first edition of Rich’s Rants here on Sports Unbiased. For those who don’t know, years ago I wrote a weekly article for SportsNickel.com called “Rich’s Rants” where I would offer my “five cents” on one or many sports topics. I am happy to say that I’ve decided to bring the Rants back! Each week (or more frequently if the topics of the day warrant it), I will be bringing you Rich’s Rants here on Sports Unbiased.
Let’s begin with Manti Te’o. The question is where do I begin? Do I believe that he was simply a victim in this debacle? No. I’m sorry, but for someone who is smart enough to get into Notre Dame (which does have very high academic standards), I just can’t believe they didn’t know what was going on. I don’t care if Te’o says he only lied after he found out it wasn’t real because he was stuck in a tough position and didn’t want to look like a fool. Can someone in this day and age of technology be that naive to not doubt that maybe something isn’t right, that maybe never meeting this person should be a sign that something’s off? My personal opinion is that he knew all along and it was all a ploy to boost his case as a player “who succeeded even though he suffered two terrible losses this season.”
Do I fully blame Manti? Absolutely not. ESPN and its so-called journalists also helped in how this story evolved. Several of their journalists noticed some issues with the facts – no death certificate, no record of his girlfriend attending Stanford, conflicting dates of when she died etc, but not a single one pushed the issue further. Their “journalists” lacked any journalistic credibility – the first thing you do is completely verify the story and facts to the best of your ability BEFORE going forward with a story. The journalists believed something was hokey but went forward because it was a “feel good story about a good guy who goes to a good school.” What I want to know is how much did the producers of ESPN control this story? Did they push the journalists to go forward with the story even though questions regarding the truth was brought to their attention?
I wouldn’t put it past the producers of ESPN to do this. After all, these are the same producers that allow First Take to continue with “journalists” such as Rob Parker or Skip Bayless and give them topics that they have to know they (Bayless and Parker) will say something controversial. Yes, Rob Parker’s comments about RG3 got him suspended and not resigned and what the on-air talent says is still up to themselves, but it is the producers who push the talent on “hot topics.” ESPN long ago stopped being about the reporting of sports and instead became the TMZ of sports, so I would not be surprised if it’s the producers causing a good portion of the issues at ESPN.
In regards to the Manti Te’o story, ESPN was told the day before Deadspin released the story that the story was a fake. However, ESPN decided to wait on releasing the information until they secured an “exclusive” interview with Te’o. While they were waiting for that guarantee to come through, Deadspin was the first to break the story. ESPN says they wanted to wait to make sure they “weren’t wrong.” That didn’t seem to bother them when they ran the Te’o piece discussing how it was for him to be playing in the same year that his grandmother and girlfriend died days apart so why should it bother them now? Oh, that’s right, they knew if they could lock up the exclusive interview with Manti before the story broke, they would have ratings gold. I’m just happy they failed miserably and the exclusive went elsewhere.
The amount of bias ESPN shows towards those entities that they have contracts with (University of Texas, the SEC etc) is amazing. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a bad thing said about any company, university or conference that ESPN has exclusive rights for. I don’t blame them to a point; why would you do anything to hurt some of your biggest money makers? However, don’t call yourself journalists if you can’t report without bias – no matter the topic or target of the news.
The only ESPN I listen to or watch, is Mike and Mike in the Morning on my way to work and the occasional glance at ESPN News to read the ticker. Other than that, I stopped paying attention to ESPN years ago because all they are is a bunch of talking heads that only care about ratings and being controversial instead of actual sports reporting (not counting Outside the Lines or their 30 for 30 series).
Another reason I can’t stand ESPN, is the whole “ESPN Insider” thing they make you pay for so you can read articles by their actual journalists such as Buster Olney on ESPN.com. In this day and age of the internet and free news everywhere, why would I pay for anything on the web? I like to read Buster’s stuff but I’m not going to pay for it. Once ESPN started the Insider, a lot of their quality disappeared. Writers such as Peter Gammons and Rob Neyer left for greener pastures.
When I do happen to visit ESPN.com and I see an article I want to read I also see the dreaded “ESPN Insider” logo next to it. I don’t even bother to click the article and I end up feeling like I wasted the time visiting the site.
Yes, ESPN started back in the late 1970s as basically a channel showing sports highlights and Australian Rules Football so the amount of journalism occuring was slim. However, when they became the go-to channel for “sports news” that all changed – and it did for a while. Shows like Outside the Lines and The Sports Reporters brought intelligence and actual sports journalism to the masses. However, ESPN then started to get exclusive deals and money and ratings became the driving force behind every decision (I believe this happened when they were bought out by Disney).
Enough about ESPN – everyone has their opinions, however, the intelligent sports fans I know and talk with on a daily basis all feel the same way I do.
Up next: Lance Armstrong