The Sports Media

It’s about time I gave some blog-love to my boy Andrew Katz at Dime.

There’s one thing that completely baffles me about major media coverage of the NBA. For whatever reason, both ESPN and Sports Illustrated feel like it’s important to rank rookies, and to do so front and center on their sites. O.J. Mayo’s had a couple good games, and all of a sudden he’s “better” than Derrick Rose. But if you asked every GM in the League right now, do you think that they would have taken O.J. with the No. 1 pick instead of Rose?

I’ll see your criticism of “major media coverage of the NBA” and raise you “major media coverage of sports,” which incidentally, is why I can’t stand the absurd circus that is sports “journalism.”

As I see it, the object of sport is to win a competition (if you don’t believe me, please reference the phrase “winning cures all”), and sports journalism should reflect this. Needless to say, if ESPN and SI merely covered who won a given game — even if they assembled an accompanying “narrative” — there would be a lot less work for people at ESPN and SI. Being the profit seeking enterprises they are though, the ESPNs of the world are not in the business of creating less work.

The answer of course was to leverage brand power to create a product unto itself, almost totally divorced from the sport. These are self-sustaining features like “Rookie Rankings” or “Power Rankings,” almost any article by John Clayton or Gene Wojciechowski, and the most perfidious of sins: moronic segments like “Who’s Now.” The evil purpose is to transmogrify something beautiful in its simplicity into an entirely subjective (and ESPN controlled) mess.

But alas, Andrew has peered through the looking glass, and there’s turning back. Fortunately for the rest of us, Power Rankings only matter inasmuch as we let them. Don’t read them, and we’ll all be better off.

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