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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

When did ESPN become TMZ?

Maybe I'm one of those guys that can leave the channel on ESPN for hours, even through show loopings. Maybe I know the daily schedule by heart. Maybe, just maybe I'm one of those guys women complain about; asking, "Why have 300 channels, when you barely watch more than one of the channels?" One thing I now know for sure, its time for me to check out other channels. Because over the years, the past two specifically, "ESPN has become a 24/7, TMZ." And I'm not a TMZ fan.

I know when it all started. It had to have been the Kobe Bryant Press Conference.

That is when it all started. Not with O.J. Simpson. I know this might sound discerning, but that was nothing more than a car chase and a trial of characters where O.J. barely talked. It was this Kobe Bryant conference, a star falling, a wife crumbling, a lawyer clearly defending. The difference between OJ and Kobe was clear; Kobe had a career ahead of him to rebuild. And so he has. This moment in Sports history set a new path, spreading out the boundaries in which media could maneuver and intrude.

Many events have transpired since Kobe apologized. Here's one:

The Mike Vick case, this press conference, the money he lost, the time he served, the hate he still receives to this day, had to be one of the longest running Sports stories. From his fall, to his uncertain future, to becoming starting quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles, the media has stayed on top of the story and even molded it to their liking; making the Mike Vick story all about "Redemption". About five years in, who knows if the media will ever let it go.

But this right here is the story which took ESPN and Sports coverage over the tabloid edge:

Tiger Woods was a whirlwind of surprise after jaw dropping surprise. A family man, acting like a drunken college student was all the rage. Arguably the best sports athlete at the time, Tiger had everything to lose, and he lost close to everything, mainly his image. With each woman that stepped up to say she had sexual relations with Tiger Woods, tabloid energy soaked into the way Sports would cover their off-the-field news. Now more than ever, it wasn't enough to just cover the news, now, the media became more a part of the news, even molding it.

After Tiger, Sports Media wanted more out of their product, at all costs. And Lebron James just happened to come along at the wrong time with this:

People can say what they want about Lebron James approach in making his decision. But it was the news coverage that blew this moment out of control. It wasn't just NBA analysts that talked about "The Decision"; if you came to work as an NFL analyst, you talked about Lebron. Everything was Lebron, even when a day before, his teammates Wade and Bosh also held a Press Conference making their decision.

Recently, Carmello Anthony was the target of excessive news coverage up until Monday night when the deal finally happened, making him a Knick. I am happy the trade finally happened. I was to a point then whenever Carmello was made the topic of discussion, I had to turn the channel. And now, turning the channel, just feels like the right thing to do.

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