Sports networks for a time had been our last line of defense against a bias media. Everywhere you look there’s always a brand/network trying to push their political/ideological agenda onto you, the consumer. Sports, especially sports television/radio was supposed to be a distraction from all that. ESPN has fallen prey to that type of propaganda and it’s all centralized around one particular player, Lebron James.
ESPN as a network has been extremely biased towards James since he entered the NBA. Their coverage of his games/performances are put above everything else, as though he’s the reason sports fans watch basketball. When James wins a game, nine times out of ten his highlight will be the first shown on SportsCenter. However when he loses, the highlight makes it a few segments behind that nights “leading” stories.
Sunday night James and the Cavs lost to the Rockets in a game in which James played poorly. He shot an abysmal 3-11 (27%) from the free throw line and shot 42% from the field. He did score 37 points, but it took him 35 shots to do it.
Monday, I was on twitter and listening to ESPN radio interested to hear (and read) what the “talent” at ESPN had to say about James’ performance. They barely talked about it; and when they did, they spun it to fit their narrative. Mike & Mike (6-10 ESPN Radio) did a short segment on it but quickly changed the topic to football and baseball; Colin Cowherd (10-1 ESPN Radio) defended James saying that, he (James) was tired that night from carrying the rest of the league.
Twitter for the most part was silent. Yes, there were the twitter trolls out there trying to bait people into arguing about something stupid, but all of the ESPN twitter handles were talking about everything but James’ performance.
What’s interesting is that if Kobe Bryant had put up a box score like that, he would be getting crucified by the same media members that are trying to deflect away from James’ poor performance. Colin Cowherd has been at the forefront of lambasting Bryant every chance he’s gotten this season and it’s just laughable that he’s become so biased, he’s willing to make excuses for his favorite player. So much for trying to be credible with your opinions; right Cowherd?
Now, conversely if James had won that game, these same shows (and twitter) would be talking about how great James is and that he’s clearly in the conversation (or should be) for MVP. How do I know this? Because Wednesday night the Cavs beat the Raptors 120-112 and ESPN was loud and proud about his performance. They were so excited about it that they put up a graph showing how he was “nearly perfect in the final 6 minutes” of the game.
This article isn’t meant to troll Lebron James. I know that it might seem that way, but that’s really not the point I’m trying to make. I get it and am willing to admit that James is a great player, arguably the best in the game. However I have a problem with a network that is the biggest sports network on the planet catering to one particular player. Yes, ESPN is biased towards many superstars; Kobe Bryant, Tom Brady and Derek Jeter are just a few that come to mind, but none as obnoxiously as James. It’s almost as if James is paying ESPN to be his PR firm and spin any negative story to put him in a positive light.
Being as avid of a sports fan as I am, I’m always going to tune into ESPN to watch a game or sportscast that involves teams/players that I root for. I’m not trying to take a moral stand and say that I’m going to boycott the company, because that would ridiculous. It’s just frustrating that a network as powerful as ESPN can’t seem to hire objective journalists. It’s almost as if they’ve become a political network of sorts. For example, if you’re a democrat you’ll watch MSNBC because they cater to left leaning politics whereas a republican is going to watch Fox News because they’re catering to right wing politics. To bring this all together, if you love Lebron James, you’ll watch ESPN 24/7 because they’ll never make a disparaging comment about him (except for Skip Bayless, but that’s a whole other topic in itself).
ESPN’s love affair with James will continue, and I realize that. My hope is that at some point in the near future, sports journalism will be embraced with more objectivity and less bias. I’m not naïve enough to believe that journalism was ever THAT objective, however corporations in the past at least tried to mask it and make is less transparent then it is today.