When it comes to holding the self proclaimed worldwide leader to account for their more mind-numbing moments, I'll hold up my hand as being one of the first in line. It could be anything that emenates from ESPN2 weekday mornings, inane SportsCenter debates, segments breaking down the Harlem Shake, their treatment of sports and stories they don't have ties to, and so on and so forth.
But ESPN also deserves praise when they put their resources few other networks in the world have towards quality reporting and impactful stories. ESPN aired the controversial video of now fired Rutgers coach Mike Rice and had a lenghty accompanying story from acclaimed Pulitzer winner Don Van Natta Jr. If you've been away from civilization for the past 36 hours, here's the OTL video...
Lest you think all ESPN had to do was put in the tape and hit play, the network also revealed how some of the reporting for the story came together over the course of several days. And to tell the truth, the depth of ESPN's work on the Rutgers story went beyond the video. Multiple articles from different perspectives, multiple interviews including one noteworthy one with Rutgers AD Tim Pernetti (who is rightfully coming under fire himself), and employing their full arsenal of analysts to talk about the impact of the story. When OTL and ESPN can sink their teeth into breaking a story like this and provide not just the original sourced material, but layered perspective and context, it's the network at its most impactful.
The Mike Rice reporting was just one of several key stories brought to light by ESPN this week. There was also an Outside the Lines investigation into numerous athlete charities that fell well short of standards. Furthermore, ESPN landed significant, newsworthy interviews this week with Marty Smith interviewing Joey Logano on the controversy that has followed him and Kevin Ware's first comments since his traumatic injury Sunday with Rece Davis. Scott Van Pelt also had a radio interview with Pac 12 commish Larry Scott on the Ed Rush siutation that made waves.
The week highlighted some of the brightest characteristics of ESPN. Pulitzer winning journalists filing important reports that bring about change (Don Van Natta), respected shows leading the conversation (Outside the Lines), and some of the network's most talented anchors conducting hard-hitting interviews (SVP and Davis). Additionally, plenty of analysis across television, radio, and online platforms that added context pushing the narratives forward.
Make no mistake - had ESPN not gotten a hold of the Mike Rice videotape, he'd still have a job at Rutgers after the athletic department gave him a pathetic slap on the wrist. The OTL report shows the importance of media and journalism having a real, tangible impact on sports. Were it not for ESPN's role in the Rutgers story, the shocking videotape and vital conversations about abusive coaches wouldn't exist. This is why observes are crying out for more journalism from ESPN and less debate - journalism changes things, it challenges the establishment, it gives light to stories that don't often see the light of day. It has a real impact on the sports world. All sports outlets (blogs included) should take a look at these reports and see the value in these stories that may not bring easy ratngs points or pageviews, but offer real substance.
The week ESPN had journalistically was more meaningful to the sports culture than a year of pointless, self-aggrandizing, lowest common denominator debates and the latest tweet from LeBron James. What's better for ESPN and sports fans - Richard Sherman arguing with Skip Bayless or Herm Edwards wishing Tim Tebow a happy birthday... or groundbreaking video footage and interviews. ESPN's job is to cover the news and break the news. Where they've lost the plot the last year has been when they made the news. The ESPN echo chamber of ESPN talking head says something controversial -> ESPN talking head debating controversy -> ESPN talking head analyzing controversy is nothing but a dizzying self-aggrandizement.
Debate is cheaper than reporting, both from a production standpoint and the standpoint of the ESPN brand. Hopefully this week proves to Bristol that its worth the price.
LOL, ESPN killed it. Reminded me of their Duke lacrosse case mishaps.
Their framed, single point of view coverage cost Tim Pernetti his job.
In light of the facts, there is a strong argument Pernetti made a reasonable decision to suspend and fine Rice. First off, he lost 75% of his pay this year, which is pretty significant. He was suspended, has to take anger management, and is on zero tolerance. This was also announced nationally, when Rutgers didn't have to go public with any of the details outside the suspension.
But no, ESPN is comparing this to the Sandusky case. Um, what? Abusing boys verses pushing a grown athlete. Okay. Others on the network have claimed it was assault. Again, not really. I didn't see any player fall to the ground or wince in pain. He didn't throw the balls hard at all.
Moreover, ESPN is worried about how the players were treated. THE PLAYERS THEMSELVES supported Rice.
The tape is out of context, spliced up, is mainly from two years, and shows the worst of the worst and none of the good. Players said it was a give and take relationship, they would push him back alot.
Also, ESPN is turning Murdock's extortion into a positive. Murdock didn't care about the kids, he cared about himself.
In a roundtable discussion, they asked if Rutgers athletics is safe. Um, on the very same court as Rice is coach Vivian Stringer, the high point of class in sports.
But because of the smear job, Rutgers rep took a huge hit. Especially when LBJ is tweeting that he would never send his kid to Rutgers, nevermind that the reason he wouldn't send his kid there (Rice) is gone.
ESPN won't tell you though that Dance Marathon was this week at Rutgers and hundreds of thousands of dollars were raised for kids cancer. But that's the media business for you.
@AndrewBucholtz money goes a long way
@AndrewBucholtz sad when that is notable
@awfulannouncing yeah so why are Rutgers players defending the coach? It's represented the worst of espn to me
@awfulannouncing and the auburn stuff
@awfulannouncing They were showing test patterns all week?
@awfulannouncing I wasn't aware First Take had been temporarily removed from the air.....
On the journalistic side, it is no surprise that the story broke from the "old school" side of the operation -- OTL is one of the most watchable shows on television (not just ESPN).
@awfulannouncing ...Or a slow week for integrity..
I would generally agree, though I would like to hear from some psychologists on the issue. It goes beyond "anger management" and into abuse. And American men need a lesson on abuse these days.
Can't disagree with any of AA's comments. And it kills me to acknowledge this, but Cowherd (and no one else, to my knowledge) raised a comparison of how Rutgers reacted when Don Imus slandered the members of one of its teams ("Off with his head!") and how it reacted in this situation ("Shhhh. Ignore that man behind the curtain. All is well ..."). Good job outta him.
@awfulannouncing Praising ESPN for journalistic efforts, I think we found our sign of the world coming to an end.
@awfulannouncing If ESPN didnt sit on the Bernie Fine evidence, they wouldnt be subjected to his defamation lawsuit brought to u by the SOL.
@awfulannouncing SOURCE: ESPN journalistic efforts praised.
@injuryrate: Indeed. Nice to have their resources, certainly.
@bbhrusty: Sure, but think it's absolutely worth praising them when they do things right, not just criticizing when they screw up.
@TweetsFromSean you're right, it would be much better if ESPN passively supported verbal and physical abuse and destroyed the evidence
@AndrewBucholtz I mean beyond punting it around on their bobblehead shows
@AndrewBucholtz serious question: do you.think they would have covered the Rice story if they hadn't been the first with the video?
@awfulannouncing he was a hard ass coach. I don't see anything wrong with that. This isn't ballet. He was making those boys into MEN
@bbhrusty: And sure, that's fair. One good week doesn't eliminate all problems, certainly. But I'll give credit where credit is due.
@AndrewBucholtz fair enough. I just hate giving ESPN credit. Thankfully the local radio version went homophobic today so it balances out
@bbhrusty: So it's more directly related to the sport and has "show me, don't tell me". Also, coaches/power a key issue these days.
@bbhrusty: And 2., video footage. Without video, this doesn't blow up: he said, he said story. Video is what makes it explosive.
@AndrewBucholtz and I think there is a parallel there worth considering.
@bbhrusty: But they definitely gave it more attention and more play thanks to it being their story, but every outlet does that.
@bbhrusty: Sure. And can argue domestic violence should get more attention. A few key differences though. 1: on field, not outside of it.
@AndrewBucholtz just curious. Don't see that much coverage of domestic violence charges against players/coaches.
@bbhrusty: I think they would have. Too big to ignore: a wider-than-sports story. Like Te'o; they did lots on it despite being second.
@awfulannouncing I didn't say you were worthless, just that what you're so upset about is par for the course in HS football
@TweetsFromSean because in the end, we have to judge the worth of a "real man" on such an important thing as high school football, don't we?
@awfulannouncing you obviously didnt play high school football.
@TweetsFromSean by using homophobic slurs and cowardly abusing authority by throwing basketballs at their heads? That's a real man's man.