The world went nuts today, what with Lebron James choosing Miami. After the breathless hyperbole leading into the “Big Signing”, an even bigger story broke when Cleveland Cavs owner Dan Gilbert let the proverbial door hit Lebron in the proverbial backside on his way out. Gilbert blasted King James, and his letter was printed in Comic Sans! COMIC SANS!!
What could be worse? The Department of Defense released the names of three soldiers killed in Afghanistan. Staff Sgt. Marc A. Arizmendez, 30, of Anaheim, Calif., Spc. Roger Lee, 26, of Monterey, Calif., and Pfc. Michael S. Pridham, 19, of Louisville, Ky. all died from wounds sustained when their vehicle was destroyed by an I.E.D. I could have written about the continuing poor economy, continuing gushing oil, or any number of other items.
I am of the opinion that the deaths of our nation’s best people come before those stories. I might even have written of the 2 year sentence handed down to the police officer who shot a handcuffed, face down man in a train station in Oakland. Any news organization that chose to feature any of the stories in this paragraph or the one above, before reporting on Lebran James and Dan Gilbert, would be doing its job. I have to believe that even that bottomless source of hyperbole itself, ESPN, could have found other stories with more weight. Of course, I try to be a positive person, and am often disappointed.
The need to fill 24 hours of programming on the so-called news-channels has destroyed journalism in our nation. With respect to 2nd Amendment partisans, the absence of an aggressive and effective press will be fatal to our democracy. Voting happened, my friends, in the Soviet Union, and that nation’s news service dutifully “reported” it. But we like our absolutes in America; the gun rights lobby that ought to be on the front lines ensuring the responsible use and ownership of weapons, regularly stop at rights and neglects responsibility. So to journalists, and journalistic enterprises, have abdicated their responsibility for the accuracy of their content, and the ethics of the profession in general.
Everything moves forward in search of ratings; the networks, apparently, stopped counting war dead when the number broke 5,000. Producers and anchors, apparently, stopped worrying about questionable justice when a black president was elected. But where does ESPN fit in all of this? What are their greater responsibilities? The basketball loving world, I am sure they would argue, is tingling with anticipation over the free agency period and all it portends. Once signed, the passionate, “pro-Cleveland/pro-fan” reaction of the owner to James’ “betrayal” became the big story for sports fans everywhere. It is true that these were both reasons for people to tune into ESPN for hours and listen to all that network’s paid advertisers had to offer.
All those advertisers had to offer, and all that ESPN has peddled for these past years, is poison. ESPN has done to athletics what the cable news giants are doing to the democracy. They have consolidated the money in one place; they have done so in the same manner as a madam consolidating all the best hookers into one brothel. Don’t mistake me now friends, I love sports every bit as much as I love politics; but my love for the twain pale in comparison for my love of this nation and its democracy. The pimps have got to go.
The cable outlets all miss the real stories, it is a simple matter of money. The real story in politics always revolves around who has the money, and where they want it to go…and I am not talking about tax dollars. In sports as well, who has the money…owners. Who wants the money…agents. What is the instrument of transfer…player contracts. The notion of draft, and player rights, and free agency is ridiculous. We sports fans love the idea, and ESPN has been careful to sell us the joys of the draft and free agency in whatever form. None of us would be happy, I should think, if the factory around the corner, or market in the square “bought” or was “awarded” the rights to our labor…but we love to see those athletes bought and sold, don’t we.
Lebron James wasn’t the most important story today, in the news or sports. That ridiculous whining owner of the Cavs wasn’t the story either, or the font he wrote his boohoos in. As I prepared to write this article, I came across the names of two foolish and unfortunate young boys killed yesterday in a town just up the road from where I live. They, apparently, thought that trains were like the movies, if you laid still on the track, the trains would pass over you. On this day of earth-shattering NBA news, a relative of one of the boys was being told of his fate; he was being told in Afghanistan. I don’t imagine that my town is unique in having a personal story larger than Lebron.
If we must cover sports, celebrity, and the scummy side of politics, then shouldn’t those reports focus on substance instead of the hype? It seems like a matter of perspective, and if the networks can’t or won’t show that perspective, then perhaps its time to stop turning to the networks for our news.
The Rational Middle is listening…