The media is able to control the public’s view of its prominent figures—just look at Pete Rose. You probably think he’s a bad guy for betting on baseball, right? We call it slant, and sadly, it’s unavoidable. Recently, the world of athletics has been a media free-for-all when it comes to reporting on what’s been going wrong. Coverage has been overtly dark, blowing the negative out of proportion, and covering up the good fun of sports.
It’s not like ESPN has been inventing scandals—there have been plenty to work with. Major League Baseball is still under the dark clouds of steroids, while cycling just lost the leader of the Tour de France, Michael Rasmussen, to yet another doping scandal. Furthermore, the N.B.A. has fallen victim to the cardinal sin of athletics—betting from the inside—with the recent leak that the F.B.I. is investigating the wrongdoings of referee Tim Donaghy, and the N.F.L. is dealing with alleged dog-fighter Michael Vick.
If you were to read the headlines, however, it would seem there is nothing positive--or normal--happening in sports. These few negative, isolated incidents—that happen to be the extreme exception to the rule—completely overshadow the positives in athletics, leading one to believe the sports world is filled with nothing but drugs and animal abuse. That is, of course, not the case, and the sports media is to blame for the misperception.
On July 17, the AP reported that N.B.A. players, including perennial bad-guy Ron Artest, were in Kenya passing out food to impoverished children and donating new shoes. On July 26, the AP reported that former Durham County DA Mike Nifong admitted there was no credible evidence to have accused three Duke lacrosse players of crimes, including rape, thus ending a year-long ordeal that defaced the credibility of collegiate sports.
While these positive events did receive press, editors chose to cover them up with the scandals instead, pushing them to the back pages. Fans across America should be absorbed in the chase toward the crowning of a new homerun king when Barry Bonds blasts his historic No. 756*, not forced instead by the media to be wondering which slugger admits next to taking steroids.
The sports media are choosing to see the rotten apples over the ripe orchard. While it’s important to aknowledge the missteps of sports figures, it’s equally important to give those negative actions proportional coverage. Turn to the back pages, and keep enjoying sports. Hey, it’s baseball season!