First, the Super Bowl. Yes, it's coming. No, I cannot wait. But the thing I'd like to talk about is media during Super Bowl week. (Yes, I'm aware I'm a media nerd, but as a member of the media, I feel appalled by where my profession — on the large scale — is heading.)
It's almost unbearable. Today's "news," coming from the likes of TMZ:
Big Ben takes his linemen out to a piano bar. SCANDAL. GASP. DISGUST.
That's how we're supposed to react, I suppose. TMZ also tried to say they were out past their curfew, which they denied, so I find that humorous. First question: Why is ESPN reporting on TMZ's postings? ESPN is the greatest and most credible news organization out there — sports or not. I find it an insult to media that they'd take TMZ reports as truth.
Also: Who cares? He went to a bar. Going to a bar does NOT mean he went to a bar, hit on girls and raped them in the bathroom (which he wasn't charged on anyway, so that's neither here nor there). He's not 14 years old. He's not even barely legal to drink. There's nothing here.
I'm currently listening to Pardon the Interruption, and Mike Wilbon, a new columnist for ESPN and a fantastic writer, called the media "morons" for caring about this. They're bored. There's nothing left to discuss because they've been talking about the matchup for two weeks, Wilbon said. Point proven, from a true member of the media who's willing to speak his mind.
Yes, college football. I realize that's not relevant right now, aside from national signing day being yesterday, and we had a couple local guys sign with a Division II school.
But all over ESPN (OK, apparently I'm attacking major news networks today) were images of high school players signing to major schools. ESPN! High schoolers! Some of which may not even be 18 years old yet!
Let that sink in.
The scandal that we saw all over the place was Cam Newton getting paid (or not) to go to college, and not in scholarship terms. We all know that story. So why is ESPN feeding the "star" treatment, which I guarantee is why Cam thought he could get money for college football, for others?
These football players have never been told no. And now they've been featured on ESPN, a network which reports on money scandals and discusses schools making money off unpaid football players, which many find unsavory. Schools sell jerseys and use athletes' names, but those athletes never see a dime. No, I don't like that. And no, I don't think college players should be paid money outside of scholarships.
But how is ESPN any different than those schools? They sold commercials for their live signing day coverage. They got ratings for it. They ran stories online which produces page hits and Internet advertising.
Until ESPN chills on high school prospects and stops feeding the beast — namely the big-man-on-campus ideal — Reggie Bush scandals will continue, and football players will continue to take money because they feel they deserve it.
I call that unsavory.