Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Congratulations are due to the Worldwide Leader in Sports, today. A tragedy occurred in the sports world, and machine that covers the comings and goings of athletes sprang into action with ruthless precision. Words cannot adequately describe the sorrow involved when a 34 year old man with a wife and six year old son passes away suddenly. And yet the story dominated ESPN all afternoon and all evening since it broke.

I am being harsh in my treatment of the ESPN family, I suppose. And uncharacteristically serious. Like many sports fans, I watch ESPN quite a bit. And like many sports fans, I hate the "have righteous indignation, will travel" mentality which is the trademark of the modern sportswriter. I try to strike a light tone, but today isn't most days.

Cory Lidle died when his plane crashed into a building on the East Side of Manhattan. In their rush to coverage, ESPN came on the air with the story before the family could be properly notified. Can you imagine? Stepping off a plane (his wife and son were apparently on a commercial flight when the tragedy occurred) in an airport terminal and seeing on the TV that your spouse died in a plane crash.

Never having taken a class in journalism, I can't say whether or not that is responsible. I do know that it is a pretty rotten way to find out that you're widowed. It also struck me as ghoulish to see the Baseball Tonight talking heads intermittently appearing on screen to remind us how this sad even puts a perspective on the Yankees recent difficulties and controversies. Did this story really merit the three or so hours of national television time it got today?

I understand that too much attention is paid to the world of sports in general, and to high profile franchises in particular. The Yankees are the most visible franchise in the nation's largest media market. There is also the fact that from no until this generation passes, no one will hear a story of an aircraft hitting a building and not call to mind images of the carnage of September 11. As a matter course, this unfortunate incident was bound to be overcovered. That is the unfortunate reality of cable television, 24 hours programming and the internet media circus era in which we live.

There are several questions which linger. First, is the obvious, who made the decision to devote the day of programming to this story, and why? And again, was it coincidence, or a mad rush on the spur of the moment, that a retrospective on the tragic death of Yankee catcher Thurman Munson in a plane crash in 1979 was available for broadcast tonight? Finally, where is the line in reporting a breaking story and respecting a family's right to privacy in the wake of a tragic loss?

Tragedy TV is an unfortunate trend in today's entertainment industry. When a celebrity dies or does something noteworthy (provided, of course, that it is a negative action), it will be covered in the news media until people have their fill of it. I don't watch the news on a regular basis because of this phenomenon. I can live without knowing the gory details of each horror of every day that passes.

I might be one of the last 3 or 4 people to understand why the Irwin family withholds the footage of the tragic death of Steve, famously known as the Crocodile Hunter. Why do people need to see their personal tragedy unfold on You Tube? He was struck in the chest by a sting ray spine, it pierced his heart. Isn't that a vivid enough description without seeing the poor man die?

Sports was my escape from this insanity. But now there is no escape. Look at the events of the Terrell Owens soap opera. Whether or not his camp is telling the truth about a pharmaceutical mishap is not the real issue. The real problem is that the media hopes events like that turn out to be an attempt at suicide. It fills more broadcast time. The fifth starter on the New York Yankees tragically dies in a plane crash, and it's like a head of state passed away. Well, it looks like we've lost sports to the tragedy TV culture. And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

1 comment:

Stunna K said...

Yea well basically your a tool or maybe you meant fool but trust me before you start running your mouth on your lame blog, maybe you should consider the facts, his dad is diagnosed with mesothelioma and is struggling to live and relating Sean who is doing a heroic thing to Britney Federline is absolutely absurd, I guess before I run my mouth on your lame blog I should stop because you probably don't have any thought process to pick up on anything i am writing. Next time before you state the obvious, realize there is a reason you arent getting paid to write for a living and thats because there is no columns available for losers.