Murder, she wrote

Sports journalism is going down the tube.

I am not sure who is really more to blame.

Is it the journalists’ fault for turning on the values that founded our profession?

Or is it the audience and their growing interest in irrelevant matters, balanced with a heightened disinterest in what actually matters?

I’ve heard the argument that nothing in sports is particularly meaningful to the days-in and days-out of the everyday citizen.

I hear mumbling about how sports are just a form of entertainment and contain nothing of real value.

There is some truth to both statements, but only some.

I mean, isn’t murder a pretty big deal? What about rape? Or for a less inhumane, but still important, example, gambling and drug abuse?

Athletes aren’t golden. They are not immune to committing crimes.

Yet we – the media, the viewers – pretend to sweep such acts under the rug.

I think we are both equally to blame. I’ll start with the media.

It only takes four letters to point out what I consider one of our biggest faults.

ESPN.

Years ago, a few people shared a vision. They knew there was an audience that loved sports.

But there was not really a station that provided constant access for this niche.

When it originated, and for a few decades after, the network provided great reporting on all things sports.

It was an era of great names, both players and reporters. Legends were born, possibly never to be matched again, especially with the direction everything is going.

Then came sensationalism.

I don’t know how it really got started, but I know where it has ended up.

I know more about which party Johnny Manziel got thrown out of and which team Tim Tebow is being cut from than which teams are winning games.

Here’s what I don’t hear much about, what I have to search to find out, what seems to be hidden from the public’s eyes and ears.

Aaron Hernandez is being charged for multiple accounts of murder. Vanderbilt football players are being charged with multiple accounts of rape.

Why? Why can such sickening things be kept hush-hush while the silly things are aired at least once an hour?

Maybe that is where the audience is to blame.

You are the ones who watch it, after all. There is no mind control going on.

Whatever the reason – or lack thereof – for watching these programs; it needs to stop.

I realize we cannot exactly boycott national media outlets, but it can start at home.

I know of at least a handful of cases over the years in Murray that, in my opinion, were never properly exposed.

Part of that is the reporters not being willing to take risks in order to do the job as it should be done.

But part of it is the audience holding on to the illusion that athletes are either above the law or immune to acts of crime.

I know at some point I will have to report on such things, and I will not shy away from my duty.

Neither should the public continue to accept what is being spoon-fed to them.

Call out the media. Ask questions. Be curious.

Maybe it won’t change the world. But it will change something. And to me, that is all that matters.

It starts with you and me.

Maybe it ends there, or maybe it really does make a difference.

 

Column by Ryan Richardson, Sports Editor