Thursday, July 24, 2008

ESPN - Where Racist Hypocrisy Lives

If you are a sports fan, its pretty much impossible to avoid ESPN. Therefore, if you watch ESPN during the summer months you are forced to endure manufactured stories and features that are in no way meant to inform, but instead used to drum up completely unfounded and wholly unnecessary controversy. In 2008, ESPN is using a combination of Brett Favre's retirement status and their own "Titletown" series to take up most of their airtime. Sure, lip service is paid to baseball and other sports, but if you take any time watching the channel you can easily see what their focus is upon.

I bring up this present day programming to illustrate the racist and hypocritical coverage that ESPN creates. It was a short three years ago that the network did the same thing to Terrell Owens that it has now done to Brett Favre. Thanks in part to ESPN's coverage, TO became public enemy #1 for contract demands he was making towards the Philadelphia Eagles. As is par with the course, meaningless events became overblown news stories, such as TO's agent holding a press conference or a fight in preseason training camp. Furthermore, virtually every talking head on ESPN went well out of their way to convict Owens in the court of public opinion before the entire story even played itself out. So thanks to ESPN's willingness to create controversy in Owens' contract dispute and their incredible pull they have in shaping public opinion on such issues thanks to the sports coverage monopoly they have, Terrell Owens career was forever changed. Nevermind the fact that Owens obviously loves the spotlight, the true crime in this entire saga from three years ago was in that TO is now commonly portrayed as a greedy thug who cares more about himself than any team he has ever been on. This depiction has become so engrained in public thinking that all of TO's ensuing accomplishments have taken a backseat to his perceived nature. Forget that Owens has scored double-digit touchdowns since joining Dallas, or that he has never had an issue with the law, or even that he has been a model teammate for his new team, the bottom line is that he will always be better known for the description that ESPN created for him three years ago.

Now fast forward to the present day. Its painfully obvious that ESPN is desperate for another publicity horse to ride during the slow days of summer. You'd think that they'd jump at a chance for any mention of a story involving Terrell Owens, considering how obsessed they have been to crucify the man during any of their television shows or game coverage, especially if the story possibly involved one of their own writers. Therefore, it brought a smile to my face to read the following account from ESPN writer Sam Alipour, and then the overwhelming lack of mention of the event in the following days from the network.

"Terrell Owens was standing over me. I'm told he was the first do-gooder on the scene of the accident. That he helped me to my feet and off the street to safe ground. That he didn't leave my side. It seems the mercurial Dallas Cowboys receiver is my hero. But my hero looks scared, and this scares me."Wow, you all right, man?" Owens kept asking me, but in a manner that would suggest there is no possible way that I, in fact, could be all right. "Don't move. Just sit there. Breathe. Don't move."It's now that I noticed the car's jacked windshield, which sports a hole the size of, well, my upper torso.[...]"That was crazy. Crazy," Owens confirmed. "You all right, man?"

So wait. The same TO that has been portrayed as a menace to society actually helped someone? And furthermore, the same man who had been drawn through the mud more than anyone else in the history of the network actually made sure an employee of that network was OK after suffering a severe car crash? Wow, that sure makes TO sound like a normal human to me, not the fire-breathing monster that hates his teammates as much as he loves money, which is after all what ESPN led us to believe. This whole revelation was way too much for ESPN to report, after all their little lab creation had turned human right before their eyes. So ESPN decided to make no mention of the accident and TO's response anywhere on their site or on their network, even though the event involved one of their own employees. The only show that even paid lip-service to the event was "ESPN First Take" on which Skip Bayless opined that TO didn't help the man out of the car out of goodness of heart, but instead implied that his actions were staged so that he'd become more of a good guy in the eyes of public perception. Basically it came down to ESPN having a chance to apologize to a man they did their best to destroy, but instead they came off as too prideful to acknowledge even one good thing that Terrell Owens did in his life.

I'll complete this commentary by comparing the Terrell Owens coverage to that of which ESPN has given to Brett Favre. For two athletes that are much more similar than you would think, ESPN has clearly taken sides based untrue racial beliefs and our society's hidden fear to accept black people the same way we accept whites. Lets take a look and see how similar Owens and Favre really are. Both won Super Bowl titles early in their career and have failed to since. Owens has come closest recently, putting in a legendary performance on a broken foot against the Patriots, while Favre interceptions have led to the two most recent Packer losses in NFC Championship games. Both men have achieved NFL records during their career. Favre has virtually every passing record in the league, and Owens may very well have a chance at wide reciever career records if he maintains his current pace. Both men are fearsome competitors willing to play through pain in order to win. On the opposite end of things, both men also have enormous ego's that have led to similar events in their careers, although the media has treated them very differently. Whereas Owens' confrontations with quarterbacks Jeff Garcia and Donovan McNabb have turned him into a egotistical manaic, Favre's confrontations with star receiver Javon Walker and understudy Aaron Rodgers have been blown over time after time. And while Owens' desire to play for a different team made him selfish, Favre's obvious intention to play for the Minnesota Vikings is fine and dandy in the eyes of the media. In fact, if you look at the play of both men in recent years, it can be argued that it is Owens who deserves the benefit of the doubt more than Favre. While Owens is still a top-5 receiver in the NFL, Favre's play has been falling off greatly in recent years. (And for those buffoons who think Favre had a great year last year, the reason he was better was because defenses had to focus on the Packers running game which allowed Favre more time to find his two excellent recievers on the outside against single coverage). It was Favre who threw the interception in overtime against the Giants, yet he is still glorified and exempted from any sort of blame.

So after looking at every angle in this comparison, its easy to see that the difference between Brett Favre and Terrell Owens comes down to one constrast that is as easy to see as black and white. Favre for almost 20 years has been the white hero of America, the kind of guy that we can look up to and admire. Substance abuse, illegitimate children, greed, selfishness, and bad play have all been ignored while ESPN and the rest of the media focus more on the fact that Favre "has fun" when he plays, "seems like a nice guy to be around", and "only cares about winning". On the other hand, Owens has become the black boogeyman for our society, a figure who becomes the straw man for white Americans to implicity state the racist beliefs they still have towards blacks. He is the greedy black thug who cares about money more than his teammates. He is a publicity whore who is destroying our country's moral fabric. He is the player who parents refuse to allow their son's to pretend to be in backyard football games. He may even be gay. Nevermind the fact that he is one of the best wide receivers in NFL history who has played injured in the biggest games and still produced, who has become an excellent teammate since joining the Dallas Cowboys, and even helps out people involved in car crashes, that side of TO doesn't help further ESPN's racial agenda, which is all about glorifying white men while crucifying similar black men and forcing its viewers to agree with this perception.

MLB Power Poll

This blog needs an injection as no one has posted in a over a week. I've been busy at work while I'm sure my colleagues have just been lazy. Last week the poll took a hiatus for the All-star game so we have a lot to catch up on here. Let's take a look at how much the rankings changed since then. A new addition is the Number in Perentheses before the team name. It represents that team's previous ranking. A dash means they were absent from the last edition.

1.) (4) LA Angels of Anaheim (62-39)- LA regains the top slot for the second time. They've somehow took over the top record in baseball by quietly playing error free baseball over the past 2 weeks. The Halos have won 7 of 8 and something that's been missing all year (the offense) is finally starting to get into gear. They've scored 11+ runs twice since the all-star break. It's starting to look like K Rod is gonna set the record for saves in a season. He's 15 away from tying Bobby Thigpen with 2 months to go in the season.

2.) (3) Chicago Cubs (60-42)- The Cubbies make their highest appearance on the Poll since hitting #1 four weeks ago. They've got the top record in the NL, but are only 1 up on the streaking Brewers. It's important that they start taking a page from Milwaukee and start a streak of their own. They go for their 3rd in a row tonight against the Marlins, but haven't won more than 3 straight in a month and a half.

3.) (5) Boston Red Sox (60-43)- The Red Sox will get a Huge boost tonight in their lineup when David Ortiz returns against the Yankees. Big Papi has been MIA since the beginning of June and he couldn't have picked a better time to return. The Red Sox are tied atop the NL East and will need to put on a good show this weekend if they don't want to be in a 3 way war with the Yanks and Rays. It's been awhile since a Boston/New York matchup has actually been as important as the media is making it out to be. Tonight it's a battle of the aces and J. Chamberlain faces J. Beckett.

4.) (6) Milwaukee Brewers (59-43)- The Brew Crew is by far the hottest team in baseball right now. With 8 straight wins under their belts, Milwaukee is just a game back of the Cubs in the NL Central and have a 3 game lead over STL in the Wild Card race (the team they just swept). The CC Sabathia trade has give the Brewers an enormous advantage in pitching depth over the rest of the league. He's 4-0 with CG in his past 3 games. A spectacular series looms next week as Chicago travels to Wisconsin for a 4 game set.

5.) (1) Chicago White Sox (57-43)- Big drop for the Chi Sox this week. Their record isn't awful in their last 10 (4-6), but they've been past by teams that are just superior right now. At one point it looked like the White Sox were going to run away with the NL Central, but a combination of their lackluster play and the resurgence of Minnesota and Detroit has left their title in the balance.

6.) (2) Tampa Bay Rays (59-42)- The Rays are playing themselves out of contention with just a 4-10 record since the second week of July. Their schedule hasn't even been difficult. Their last 4 series have been against the A's, Brew Jays, Royals, and Indians. They're gonna need to turn things around quickly if they want to stay afloat in the ultra competitive AL East (3 teams in the Top 7 of this Poll).

7.) (9) New York Yankees (56-45)- The Yanks are on a sizzling 6 game win streak and could be tied atop the AL East with a sweep of the BoSox and 3 straight losses by the Rays. Early on it didn't look like New York would be able to overcome the loss of Chien Ming Wang, but Joba Chamberlain has filled in admirably and has become the new ace of a surprisingly durable staff that includes vets Mike Mussina and Andy Pettite. "The Hut" has much to prove tonight against last year's Cy Young Runner Up Josh Beckett.

8.) (-) New York Mets (55-47)- The Mets have been arguably just as good as their cross-town rivals. After a 10 game win sreak, the Amazin's just won their last 2 against their division foes to the south. They just passed Philly with the last win to take a 1 game lead in the NL East. They've got another big series against the next team in the poll with the fresh faced Mike Pelfrey taking the hill tonight. He had won 6 in a row before imploding in his last start at Cincy.

9.) (8) St. Louis Cardinals (57-47)- The red birds were looking to make a statement in their series with the Brewers this week. They made a statement alright, but it wasn't the one they were looking for. Milwaukee swept the Cards in the Lou to go pull 3 ahead in the standings. The Cardinals now get to look forward to an 11 game stretch against NL East division contenders starting with the Mets tonight.

10.) (10) Philadelphia Phillies (54-48)- The Phillies got a taste of their own medicine this week. Last season, it was Philly sneaking up on the Mets to take the division lead and snag a playoff spot, but this year the tables were turned, albeit a lot earlier in the year. Philadelphia still has plenty of time to regain control, but they absolutely must trade for a pitcher if they want to feel better about their chances of taking the NL East crown.

Others Receiving Votes: Minnesota Twins, Detroit Tigers, Florida Marlins