Mini Smearies: Pet Peeves of Sports Journalism, Part 2 of 5

Superstar Ass Kissing and Ridiculous Praise

Kobe Bryant was suffering through one of the most humiliating games of his career. He was at Madison Square Garden, on of his favorite haunts, and was getting thoroughly outplayed by rookie sensation, Jerry Lin, the night after telling reporters he didn’t know what the big deal with Lin was. Every time the Knicks came down the court, the rookie guard made a good play, be it hitting an open shot, driving for a layup, finding an open teammate, etc. Every time the Lakers came down the court, Kobe Bryant made calamitous play after calamitous play, dribbling into triple teams, heaving up desperation shots with little to no chance of going in. He had gone into full on, “screw it, I don’t give a damn if we lose but I’ll be damned if I let this kid score more points than me,” mode. Then it happened. One of Bryant’s terrible jumpers actually went in, and then a couple more. At this point, the Lakers were down by a ton and the game was essentially over… but from the nitwit announcers you got, “Kobe Bryant! What a shot!!! Trying to carry his team back…” and whatever other drivel along those lines. Not once did anyone point out that the Lakers’ deficit could be blamed one hundred percent on Bryant’s awful play to that point. 30 something percent shooting, a boatload of turnovers, zero hustle on defense. No, they praised the moody star. Why? Because maybe he would get wind of it and not talk to them anymore for interviews? Who knows?

It’s only been a couple of years since his much publicized dalliances with seemingly everything female that had a pulse, but every move Tiger Woods makes is still front and center. Golf announcers do everything but overtly cheer for him to win. Why?

Derek Jeter’s skills are obviously eroding. He’s been a wonderful player for most of his career, and is still a great leader… but nobody wants to point out that a seeing eye grounder to the left side that any other shortstop makes a routine play, the Yankee legend can no longer get to. And Jeter is a nice guy, unlike the mercurial personalities of Bryant and Woods. He’d probably admit he wasn’t the same player he used to be… if anyone had the grapefruits to ask him.

When I was in college and studying journalism, the romance of the profession was enhanced by being described as the “watchdog for the public.” Reporters and journalists had an obligation to report the facts to keep the public informed, to ask the tough questions because it’s what people want to know. Apparently, today’s sports journalists missed that day in class. Oh sure, you get some candid rhetoric from guys like the LA Times’ irascible Page 2 columnist, TJ Simers, ESPN’s Bill Simmons, and a few others. But by in large, those guys’ words are treated as rhetorical hyperbole. It’s the guys making the simulcast calls, and asking the postgame questions that we look to for the info. And those guys, nearly all of them, are cowards. I have no other explanation.

I do however have a solution. It would require, however, an uncensored sports channel… because you see, I would be calling the games. “And Kobe heaves up ANOTHER horrid shot. Clangs it off the backboard and here come the Clippers on a fast break, they score. Kobe is still bitching at the refs, the whiny punk that he is… when is Mike Brown going to remove him from the game!? He does want to win, right?”

Meh, I guess I could do it without cursing… unless of course you count “bitching” as cursing…



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