Monday, March 14, 2005

Sports Media

Here's a question: how worthwhile does everyone feel the predictions made by the ESPN college b-ball crew are? My personal feelings are that, obviously, they know more about basketball than I do, in terms of stats, players, preferred defensive/offensive schemes of teams, etc. But when I see Andy Katz pontificating on how the 10-seed is a lock to beat the 7-seed, I end up wondering exactly what knowledge he has, apart from stats, that make his point.

Which, of course, is kind of silly, seeing as that picking teams should be predicated on that knowledge to begin with. But I honestly feel that sportswriters, for the most part, occupy the same general area of the spectrum as certain political pundits: they seem to be wrong a good portion of the time, but never seem to suffer the consequences. Consider the performance of virtually all the liberal pundits pre-Iraq war, where the forecast was unanimous in predicting gloom and doom, which, at this point, appears to be utterly wrong.

It also irks me that few sportswriters seem to ask the really hard questions of the athletes, whereas the political writers will at least grill the politicians (the Republican ones, anyways) over their actions. If you doubt me, please see most anything written by Peter King, the clueless football "analyst" for SI, or any softball lobbed by the poster boy for appeasement, Dan Patrick. This phenomenon has everything to do with preserving access to the athletes, who, when faced with an adversarial question, can simply cut the writer out of his loop. But I also think it has something to do with the face that most sportswriters, like most American males, would simply love to be pro athletes, and as such, maintain a reverence for their subjects that leads to the deferential nature of their questioning. I'll concede that the coaches get some hard queries, but I wish Dan Patrick would follow suit with players (if anyone saw his "hard" coverage of Gary Sheffield and the steroid controversy on Sportscenter last year, that pretty much exemplifies what I am speaking of).

Which leads me to one final point, which is that radio shows like Patrick's, to the true sports fan, inevitably come across as inferior to those like Cowherd's, the host who comes on right before Patrick on ESPN Radio. Cowherd, who recognizes that few big name athletes will ever come on his show to begin with, at least espouses convictions, rather than bland platitudes, about the controversial sports events of the day. My guess is that it has something to do with the lack of access that is granted to Cowherd, who is actually put in the somewhat liberating position of being able to call out players (I believe some of this touches on MSR's complaints about Michael Jordan).

Of course, I gave up on Patrick about a year ago, so maybe his format has changed.

2 Comments:

At 8:03 PM, Blogger Tortfeasor said...

Funny that you post this today, Bo. MSR and I had a similar conversation today about sports pundits and their jock-sniffing nature, the worshipping of athletes and the salivating at the sight of their precious ham hocks.

Which is why I prefer Rome: he no doubt espouses strong opinions, and those opinions do not respect whether or not a particular athlete appears often on his radio show. On many occasions, I've heard Rome say, "I like this guy, he comes in the Jungle a lot, but...", and his listeners, and even athletes (I believe), respect him for it. (For example, see Rome's treatment of Jose Lima.)

As for Dan Patrick, I cannot tell you how much less I respect him after being exposed to his radio show that last few years. He is an absolute JOKE of a "sports journalist." Really, he's just a grown-up jock-sniffer who would gladly drink the ballsweat of Barry Bonds.

 
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