By Matthew Acosta, April 18, 2023
Over the years, sports journalism has devolved into a brand that is based on clickbait reporting and analysis of the sports.
Some of the top analysts in the world of sports have continuously made outlandish comments on certain teams, athletes or sports in order to gain views for their company and for themselves.
Emerging platforms like podcasts from former athletes and fans have begun to combat the controversy-driven stories that feed the mainstream sports world.
Ever since I was old enough to watch sports, I have enjoyed watching pregame and post-game shows in order to truly learn the sport I was watching more.
I began to look up to the icons of sports reporting like Stephen A. Smith, Skip Bayless and Scott Van Pelt as I began looking into my own future in journalism.
But as I got older, I became more aware of the media that I consumed. I was unhappy with the things that were being said on air or posted to social media by my icons.
“The First Take” television show with reporters Shannon Sharpe and Bayless used to be one of my favorite podcasts to listen to because I felt that they covered a lot of the topics that I was interested in daily.
But after listening to it for a couple of months, I found that it became repetitive and that many of the takes that the show made were in order to stir controversy and gain clicks for social media.
Another driving force that has been dominating not just sports media but also the 24-hour news stations is gathering a group of experts and having them argue for minutes on end.
When I would get my hair cut, the guys in the barbershop would argue along with what they were seeing on the TV.
While I do understand that conflict drives up the entertainment factor of the show and it helps for the ratings, my journalism classes have taught me that our first job is to inform, not to shove our opinions down the viewers’ throats.
One of the shows that I can say has done a very good job of retaining true journalism ethics and professionalism while also keeping the show entertaining is “The Dan Patrick Show.”
I used to listen to the show with my grandpa on the way to elementary school, and I used to love being able to stay updated on all the current sports news. I stopped listening after my grandpa stopped taking me to school until I found the show again, and it was still growing and going strong.
Many of these sports talk shows end up being driven by the brands and organizations that they report on, which has been shown to lead to poor reporting and a distinct bias.
One of the biggest instances that showed ESPN’s true colors came after UFC President Dana White was caught on video slapping his girlfriend at a New Year’s Eve party.
This matter was barely mentioned on morning talk shows and there had even been rumors on social media that those employed by ESPN and other networks had been warned to be silent on the matter due to the partnership they wanted to retain with the UFC.
This was one of the most frustrating things to see for someone like myself, who has dedicated so much time and effort to the craft of journalism just for a prestigious network and company like ESPN to sell out because they were worried about money.
Journalism has and always will be reliant on its reporters that keep those in power in check — a sentiment that should be protected in sports, entertainment and any other type of journalism.
I don’t know where my future will take me, but I know that I want to find myself in sports media at the end of my journey. When I do, I want to make sure that I do things the right way, not for myself, but for the people and stories that I will be telling.
Feature image by Lauren Wong
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