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Thursday, September 28, 2006

Defending the Tabloidization of Sports

I know JD. He's a good guy. Raging alcoholic...but if you catch him on a dry day, a cool dude nonetheless. But his pejorative tone re: the tabloidization of sports smacks of condescension.

Whenever people complain about media coverage of almost any issue, I am reminded of the greatness of George Carlin. His joke was about traffic, but is an analogy about relative morality/ethics. He said that whenever you are driving on the freeway, whoever is going faster than you is a "maniac" and whoever is going slower than you is "moron". JD's premise is that there is an amount of T.O. coverage that is "excessive". I disagree.

He seems to assume that the media intends for each one of us to consume every morsel of minutia that they put out. This is not the case. They know our viewing habits better than we do...that's why the football game has a "Fox Box" (so that you can walk into a room or be in a bar and immediately know the score, time remaining, etc.), why the anchors tease the story that is coming up after the commercials (so you'll have a reason to come back after channel surfing during commercials), and why talk show host "reset" after a break (to bring new listeners up to speed on the current conversation). They realize that we all consume our media differently, and the media outlets are now so specialized that they CAN (nay, in service to their target audience, SHOULD) dedicate 100% of their content to the story at hand.

You didn't complain that, right when you tuned in to ESPN, that there was a "Special Edition" of SportsCenter that had been strung together and the 1st thing you heard was: "If you are just joining us..." and within 2 minutes, you knew everything the anchor knew about the situation. But then, after watching this 2 minute loop of the same information for 30 minutes, you want to complain that "This is the 3rd time that they've said the same thing" (not realizing that it was actually about the 10th time). Well...they weren't talking to you!

Really, what would we have them do? "We interrupt this replay of the 2003 Middle Tennessee State v. Troy Old Timers Game to advise you that Cowboys receiver Terrell Owens is in a Dallas hospital. We think it was an attempted suicide. Now, back to our regularly scheduled program."

*Blink* *Blink*

Huh? Did I just hear that?...

No, you'd clamor for more, or else go find another outlet who will elaborate and stay with it for just the right amount of time...(ie-that which precisely matches your attention-span).

Nah...I say to the media: You make it do what it do...

You can't "make us" better fans. You can only hold up a mirror to let us know what type of fans we are.

When we are full, we will push ourselves away from the table. If we are so gluttonous as a society that we harm ourselves with our frenzied feeding at the teet of the media, then I say we reap what we sow.

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