Fox Sports Live has made it a point that unlike SportsCenter, they are actually going to talk about the NHL and show highlights. Hockey fans rejoice that a national highlights and news show actually plans on giving more than cursory coverage of your sport! Part of that strategy is building an alternative to ESPN, part is serving a neglected fanbase, and part of it is so Jay Onrait can scream BOBROVSKY!
Fox Sports 1 hired Hall of Fame defenseman Chris Chelios to serve as their hockey analyst for the season and he appeared on Monday night's Fox Sports Live to preview the upcoming season. The segment is fine, but there was just one thing that was bothersome about it and Chelios' role at Fox Sports 1...
"I really like our team... Detroit."
Chris Chelios is not just a Fox Sports 1 analyst, he works in the Red Wings front office. Look, he has a profile on the Red Wings website and everything...
Now, credit to Fox Sports Live and Jay Onrait that Chelios' role in the Red Wings front office was disclosed to viewers. But when Chelios starts interchanging talking about the Red Wings in the first person it gets complicated. Chelios' job with the Red Wings presents a massive conflict of interest when he picks them on Fox Sports Live as his Stanley Cup champions and says "I really like our team." Who else is he supposed to pick to win the Stanley Cup but the team that's currently writing him a paycheck?
The question viewers have to ask Fox Sports 1 is whether or not they're getting a square deal from Chelios and the network's NHL analysis. Or, is Chelios' analysis always going to be slanted in the favor of the Detroit Red Wings? There's nothing worse for an analyst than a perceived bias or conflict of interest (see: Mark May vs The Ohio State University), especially for a new network just earning trust with viewers.
This conflict is not isolated to Chelios. ESPN has had to face the same questions with Magic Johnson and the Lakers and now TNT will have to be wary of Shaquille O'Neal owning a piece of the Sacramento Kings. The Red Wings describe Chelios' role with the team as "working closely with the front office." Of course Chelios is going to love the moves the Wings made in the offseason, he helped to make them.
If Shaq picks the Kings to win the NBA Finals this year, we'll know these conflicts of interest are really starting to become a major issue. At least the Red WIngs are actually good.
Seeing as how the networks themselves are often biased for or against certain athletes, cities &/or teams, I'm not sure the Chelios thing is all that unique, or worth griping about.
Assuming it is an issue, sports networks should either end the practice of hiring ex-players to be talking heads (I wish, but it ain't gonna happen), or audiences learn to accept that almost none of these people are going to be able to be objective.
This is no different than the four-letter network picking their teams to win a championship all the time. The Red Sox and Yankees in baseball. Patriots and Giants in football. Heat, Knicks and Lakers in NBA. The entire SEC in college football. Jimmy Johnson and Dale Jr. in racing. The ACC in college hoops. (it used to be the Big East.)
Heck, even the ESPN NFL bloggers picked their teams to be a cumulative 54 games above .500 this season.
Basically any team in any of the sports that get good ratings.
@awfulannouncing Did it for Magic?
@awfulannouncing they couldn't find an ex player who is unbiased. Bad look for fs1
@awfulannouncing thought same thing last night. He corrected himself twice when he said we.
@awfulannouncing Can't blame Cheli. Fox now should hire Mike Babcock for coach's perspecitve.
@awfulannouncing when ppl like u make it one
@awfulannouncing Not a problem at all.
@awfulannouncing FS1 put him in the pos. to answer that way. He can be a fair commentator if done right, but that question was unfair.
@awfulannouncing Picking them to win it all here? Not really. Do you really want him talking about a questionable hit involving them? No.
I'd like to think he can remain objective as an analyst, but that goes out the window when he says "our team."