Monday, March 22, 2010

Why ESPN is slowly drifting towards MTVism.

I'm at a crossroads with my love for ESPN.

Yesterday, as I watched a five minute interview with Tiger Woods, uncovering absolutely no new relevant information, I rolled my eyes and waited until it was finished so that I could hear more about March Madness (which happens to be one of the best in tournament history by the way). However much to my chagrin (notice I didn't say surprise), I found myself watching countless minutes of instant reaction and analysis to the five minute interview. I believe after about 15 minutes, I just kept watching to see how long they could talk about things we already knew. I think the low point was hit when I heard them discussing his body language to see if he was lying when answering any questions.

Is this what we've come to? Breaking down every twitch, shifting glance, and word from a sports megastar? For reasons that go beyond the golf course? Need I remind people that he gets paid to be a golfer? There is no leaderboard for best husband or dad out there, and the last time I checked, ESPN was a sports network, not the medium and moral compass for all of our stars.

Granted, the news was shocking. If this had been Dennis Rodman, Chad Ochocinco, or any other flamboyant athlete, I think it might have gotten about a 20 second clip in a 2am Sportscenter broadcast; however this is Tiger Woods: the greatest golfer that ever lived, and quite arguably the most reserved and sheltered athlete of all time. Come to find out he was sheltered for good reason! Granted, this news was interesting. Any time we have a star that is looked up to by millions of children, and respected by a countless number of media, colleagues, and sports fans across the world, we expect a certain character, and when we don't get that character, we tend to lose our minds a little bit.

The point is, ESPN, is this news worthy of airtime? Of course. Is this news worthy of so much airtime? I think not. As reporters it's your job to cover the stories, and in a down week or so with not many relevant games going on, I might even turn the other cheek. But damn it, Northern Iowa just beat #1 overall ranked Kansas, we're in the midst of one of the most compelling college tournaments of all time, and you're analyzing eye movement on a golfer?

I don't think I'm alone when I say this: although Tiger is a public figure and his life off the course is important to the average fan, it isn't everything. Cover it if you must, but please remember that there's much going on in March. The NCAA tourney is captivating the nation, the NBA season is coming to a close, and the MLB season is about to start up. Let's focus on Tiger at Augusta when Tiger comes back. Until then, give the other athletes the respect they deserve.

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