It ain’t easy being a mainstream sports media critic. There are times that you can just read too much, and be reminded just how blissful ignorance is. Other times you get angry, sprint to your computer and furiously type away. On the increasingly infrequent good days, an author could remind you exactly why you became a sports fan in the first place. And then there are those rare momentary “defeated days”. These are the articles that immediately make your shoulders slump all the way to the floor (see Jason Whitlock), the days that seem to swallow your spirit whole, and the times that reach deep into your soul to see that true nature of its contents. It is on these days where you realize the story is so much bigger than sports, that sports coverage is merely a reflection of our society, and that coverage provides a stark and unflinching reminder of just how ill our society really is. And right when you feel like you can’t possibly summon the energy up to write one single sentence, you tell yourself how thankful you are. How thankful to have loved ones around you; how thankful to be free of harm’s way; and, most of all, how thankful you are not to be Sean Taylor. Taylor was shot and killed earlier this week after an intruder broke into his own home. COSELLOUT’s heartfelt condolences go out to his family and friends. There are no words that can ever replace the loss of a loved one.
There are also no words that can accurately describe much of the mainstream sports media’s coverage of Sean Taylor’s death this week. Adjectives like “appalling”, “disgusting”, “sickening”, and “unconscionable” all seem to fall short. The last time I felt this same way about death and a reckless media, FOX News was going to air a special interview on OJ Simpson’s "If I Did It". But luckily that show never aired. Luckily, the public INSTINCTIVELY saw the immorality in such a show, and forced its cancellation. Luckily, Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman’s memories were treated with dignity more than 10 years later. This week Sean Taylor was raked through the coals while still fighting for his life. And while COSELLOUT currently lacks the emotional wherewithal to adequately tackle the media on this one, fortunately, many of our good friends from around the blogosphere have expressed their outrage for us. COSELLOUT sends out a warm thanks to all our partners fighting for honor, decency, and fairness in our sports coverage, and by extension, in our society. In doing so, we could only hope that if a sports journalist was ever killed (knock on wood), their memory, their family, and their honor would be treated with greater respect and dignity. Maybe, just maybe, we would even dare to consider them a VICTIM in their own death. Before we address the media, here are a couple of tributes:
And Still We Weep: The Death of Sean Taylor – The Starting Five
R.I.P. Sean Taylor (1983 – 2007) – MindRiteSports.com
– Michael Wilbon: Just last week COSELLOUT gave thanks to ESPN’s Pardon The Interruption. Is it too late for a retraction? In the past Wilbon has been a respected journalist. But Wilbon is wrong. Not “slip-up” wrong, not “he had an off day” wrong, but DEAD WRONG! At minimum, Wilbon owes a sincere apology ON THE AIR to Sean Taylor’s family and to all his viewers who ever held him in high regard. Apologies for misbehaving athletes are requested all the time by journalists. Now it is time for Wilbon to show HIS character and lead by example. For more detail see the following links:
– Walt Sedensky from Associated Press: If you always wondered why so much of the mainstream sports media often sounds exactly alike, you have to start with the “Associated Press” (AP) – the common single source where sports outlets around the nation get these articles. The AP decides: what IS newsworthy (see Pacman Jones getting 3 traffic tickets), what ISN’T newsworthy (see Stephon Marbury donating 4 million dollars), and most importantly, HOW that story will be portrayed. If you want to know how the Sean Taylor story was initially framed for the rest of the nation’s journalists, you have to start with AP writer Walt Sedensky.
– Leonard Shapiro: In addition to more commentary on Washington Post Columnists’ Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser, this post by Sports Media Watch (Paulson) nicely deconstructs Leonard Shapiro’s reckless column on Sean Taylor.
– Jason Whitlock: Yes, he weighed in. Yes, his column was disgusting. Yes, he blamed hip-hop. Yes, the sun rose this morning. (for those unfamiliar with Jason’s weekly antics see "Whitlock-Gone-Wild")
– Sports Talk Radio: We didn’t listen to it. We trust you understand.
– The Big Media Picture: See The Murder of Sean Taylor: Trying to Express All That’s Inside by D.K. Wilson
And we will close with the ultimate proof that the sports media world has truly been turned on its head. COSELLOUT has been a frequent critic of ESPN’s “Around the Horn”, and specifically panelist Woody Paige. However, when it was really time to get serious, Mr. Paige knew when to stop clowning. And it seems like Michael Wilbon, Walt Sedensky, Leonard Shapiro, and every other respected sport journalist in the country who got this story so very inexcusably wrong can learn something from Woody Paige. Here is what he had to say.
“Darrent Williams was killed almost exactly a year ago on New Year’s Eve after the Broncos completed the season, and I can just tell you what the Broncos and the community went through at that time and how maybe we must and should react at this point. As a team the Redskins should go to his funeral, if that means taking a full day off from practice I think that is the right direction to have a memorial, to go to the funeral, and maybe the NFL should consider moving the Redskins game to Monday night to give the Redskins at least an extra day to contemplate and mourn what happened. Number 2: What the community did was rally around the family, rally around the teammates, and rally around the team, because we all know that there are senseless tragedies going on all around the world to young men and women and this is no different from that. However, in this case with the football team so ingrained in the community, I think it’s important for the players and for the community to build a memorial to young people for his name. I think that is one way you can recognize what he accomplished with the team and accomplished in his life, and I think it is also important that everyone keep in mind that players have to be more guarded about their personal lives, and we hope that young players will take something from this. There has to be positive in such a terrible negative, but having gone through this a year ago, I say that the Redskins must have their mourning period before they go on and they must cherish his memory.”
Thank you Mr. Paige.
R.I.P. Sean Taylor