Responsibility in Sports Media…Does it actually exist?

Responsibility, as defined by Merriam Webster’s dictionary states: the quality or state of being responsible: such as: moral, legal, or mental accountability: reliability, trustworthiness. I feel that we, as participants in the “media”, have a responsibility to our audience….To report the facts of a story and to convey them without bias or judgment.

In this article, I would like to point out some very bothersome and disturbing trends I have recently noted in sports media.

Example #1 – Bryant Gumbel, a very well-respected and critically acclaimed television journalist anchor of HBO’s Real Sports, conveyed his thoughts on the promotional fiasco that is the Mayweather-McGregor tour. Mr. Gumbal states: “The two combatants have for the past month lowered the bar for civility and eagerly swapped racist, misogynistic and gay slurs in desperate hopes of marketing their pay-per-view event. That they’ve leaned on hate and ignorance to sell their fight says a lot about them and none of it is good (fully AGREE with this opinion/observation). What’s it going to say about those who buy it?”

Jerry Jones, the longtime owner of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys, signed Greg Hardy, who had prior been convicted of domestic violence, signed the controversial defensive end to make the Cowboys “more competitive within the rules of the NFL” and tried to substantiate his signing of Hardy by calling him, “a real leader who has the respect of all his teammates and inspires America’s Team”. In 2014, Hardy was convicted of assault in a bench trial, but the charges were dismissed on appeal and, it was reported in 2015, expunged. He missed more than a season of football but went on to sign with the Dallas Cowboys, for whom he’s become a bigger star than ever despite (or perhaps because of) a series of incidents ranging from making sexist comments in a press conference to going after a coach on the sidelines.

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Steven A. Smith, a contributor on EPSN’s First Take stated the following concerning the Ray Rice domestic violence issue:

Smith said of Rice, who was caught dragging his unconscious fiancé Palmer — whom he has since married — out of an Atlantic City elevator after allegedly slugging her, “probably deserves more than a two-game suspension.” Smith then added: “We also have to make sure that we learn as much as we can about elements of provocation.”
To me, these statements should have never been made…Clearly, these journalists have forgotten their platform is for responsibly reporting the issues in society and sports today. I feel they have forgotten the platform they occupy, one that reaches millions of people across the country and even across the world. Journalists, reporters, bloggers, etc. should embrace their positions and be measured and caring in their words. I would never ask for censorship or a degradation of our first amendment rights of free speech…I would just hope that people of influence and stature would always remember they are in the public eye and do their best
to be socially responsible. Report responsibly, be sensitive to the issues and think before you speak. I know I may be asking a lot but if your career is made by using your words use them responsibly….PLEASE!

In the following statement, Terry Bradshaw, Hall of Famer and ex-NFL quarterback of the Pittsburg Steelers and current Fox football analyst uses his platform to condemn anti-social behavior, more specifically, the domestic violence issue condemning both owner, Jerry Jones, and Greg Hardy: “[Hardy] has his first news conference and he makes a fool of himself and then Jerry comes out and basically becomes an enabler himself. This is wrong. We have no place for this and I’m actually tired of talking about the Hardy’s of the world. I seriously hope that eventually we never have a place in the NFL for people who strike women.”

For this, I applaud Mr. Bradshaw. Too many times we are a country who forgives too quickly our “heroes” in sports. Athletes are people and as such, a reflection of our society. They should be held to the same standard as anyone else, not above, not below said standard. Journalists, as well, should be held accountable for their performance of their job as other working citizens around this country. Think before you speak, and when you speak, be responsible….Do not take advantage of your platform. Mr. Gumbel, I am neither racist, misogynistic, a user of gay slurs, hateful or ignorant if I choose to purchase the McGregor-Mayweather fight. Mr. Jones, winning at all costs is not socially responsible when ignoring the actions of a man who has committed violent crimes against women. Mr. Smith, should I truly look to see if Ray Rice was provoked by his fiancé? And are you actually asking me to judge whether or not she deserved this violence? Whatever her words or actions, punching a woman is NEVER ACCEPTABLE!

All I am trying to say is this: If you are in the public eye, THINK before you SPEAK.
When you speak, REMEMBER your platform and your influence on your audience.
Responsibly report, responsibly speak and be a POSITIVE advocate, a POSITIVE influence on your audience and society.
DO NOT take advantage of this responsibility.
I know I may be asking a lot…If we could eradicate ignorance, what a beautiful world we would have…
Hate and ignorance are taught…Let’s be responsible and NEVER TEACH THEM.

The Coach

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