Wednesday, February 27, 2008

If a tree falls in the forest...

In an era of overwhelming sensationalism in television medium, Young Swole finds it shocking that one of the most high-profile athletes stands accused of serious violations and crimes and yet is being ignored.
Two years ago Reggie Bush was on top of the world. He was one of the most electrifying college athletes we had seen in years and was poised to make millions of dollars in the NFL. Since then, a lot has gone wrong though. He hasn't lived up to the hype in New Orleans despite being surrounded by some of the greatest offensive weapons in the entire league, but more damaging are the off the field concerns that have been raised. For years, many skeptics have wondered if USC could build such a powerful football program in a clean way, and while it was hard to find a crack in the Trojan Program, the Achilles heel (pun intended) may in fact turn out to be the face of the USC dynasty in the 2000's, Reggie Bush himself.
Bush is accused of borrowing money from people like Lloyd Lake, an ex gang member who became a sports agent, while playing at USC. Lake is believed to have financed a car for Bush and home for his family, which if true would violate NCAA rules. To make the case even more serious, Lake is now suing Bush because he claims Bush has not paid him back despite making millions of dollars a year. While this is a very serious deal, it unfortunately isn't even the biggest story. What makes the entire situation so shocking is how the overwhelming majority of sports media has chosen to ignore it.
For the past few years, ESPN has degenerated before our eyes into a daily tabloid of sports drama, instead of a reputable source of sports information. Their habit is to choose a controversial team or player, and cover them so extensively that they run the story into the ground before they choose another candidate to feed on for the next rating cycle. Players like Terrell Owens, Michael Vick and Barry Bonds and teams like the New York Yankees are beaten into our collective psyche like a bad catchy song. It seems like the developing Reggie Bush saga would have ESPN executives licking their chops as they see it as an opportunity to fill up another 3 months of programming. Yet if you turn on ESPN you will never hear a mention of the case. Lip service is paid to the fact that Bush's bodyguards threatened Lake's life at a hearing last month, or that Bush didn't show up at a mandatory court appearance yesterday, or even that USC is investigating Bush's financial background and may forfeit victories and championships. In a story that seems like a much bigger deal than most of the other garbage we hear about daily (The Best Highlight of All time for example), why is ESPN almost entirely ignoring it, when it seems so quick to jump on the bandwagon of every sensational sports story that exists?
Here are 3 quick reasons why ESPN is ignoring it:
1. USC was ESPN's glory program for college football. 2 years ago, their talking heads were saying USC was the best football team in the history of college sports before they even won a title (which they promptly lost to Texas). This year they severely overrated the Trojans at the beginning of the year again, and then constantly rated them as the best team at the end of the season despite being no more impressive than many other teams around the nation. This coverage included fawning over the accomplishments of Bush which while impressive, have to be looked at harshly in hindsight if Lake's allegations are true. To bury Bush's career, ESPN is effectively burying all the hype they put into the USC program, which would make them look foolish.
2. Reggie Bush has carefully crafted an image as a clean-cut athlete that fans can look up to. ESPN is quick to bury athletes they deem controversial like a TO, who hasn't done anything near what Bush is accused of. The fact that they play favorites is bad enough (just look at their coverage of Brett Favre and the Patriots last football season), but to not treat all players fairly in the wake of recent and enlightening events is frankly a disservice to ESPN's viewership.
3. Most importantly, Reggie Bush's attorney is a man named David Cornwell. ESPN viewers may remember him as the legal authority then turned to when the Bonds and Vick fiascos were ongoing. Now Cornwell is the man orchestrating the possibly criminal acts that Bush is undertaking, all while still being considered a respectable legal authority in the eyes of ESPN. This entire relationship screams of a conflict of interest. Simply because a person has been on your tv channel before does not mean he should be above the law, and above the judgment of those with the power to do so. By protecting Cornwell, and thus his client Bush, ESPN is stunting the legal process, and also proving highly hypocritical in its reporting and opinion-forming.
So while this Bush story is not going away any time soon, and in all likelihood will only grow more important in the coming months, it may be ignored on one of the most important sports media outlets in the world. Bush may be guilty or innocent, the legal process will surely find that out, but we can already safely say that ESPN is guilty of biased reporting in what may turn out to be a more serious case than all of the sensationalized garbage they have thrust upon America over the last few years.


Young Cicero said...

Good investigative reporting right there. Too busy roasting IU over phone-gate I guess.

Young Knuckleballer said...

I like this Watch Dog type of journalism Swole. Keep up the good work and keep us up to date on the Reggie Bush Fiasco