At this time of the year I could say something about how incredible it was to be in San Diego for AAR/SBL and Thanksgiving, and how I miss the temperatures that were nearly twice as warm as those that have greeted me here in Eugene every morning since. Or, I could say something about the beginning of Advent and how we too often lose sight of this important time of the Christian year. Or, I could say something about the injustices of racism continuing to plague our nation. Or, I could say something about all of the wonderful music I encountered over the last twelve months. In fact, I will probably have something to say about that in a future post. But for today, sports are on my mind. I know, it’s sort of a cop out, an avoidance of meatier matters. I’m not so much shallow as mentally exhausted.
This is the time of year when the EPL plays a slew of games on top of each other. It is the time of year when the MLS crowns a champion, and this year it could be a storybook ending for Landon Donovan’s career. It is the week when the College Football Playoffs experiment gets its first go round at setting the final four. (As a Baylor fan, I am particularly interested to see how this all shakes out.) It is the time of year when college basketball gets into full swing. There’s a lot to love for a sports fan. But one thing that I don’t love as a sports fan—and this is not peculiar to this time of the year—is the lack of good sports journalism. So I was particularly intrigued by the report written by Robert Lipsyte, ESPN’s outgoing ombudsman. Lipsyte had an 18-month appointment to examine and analyze ESPN’s many media offerings. To ESPN’s credit, they actually employed someone to do this! That, in and of itself, is pretty amazing. Adding to their credit, they published the ombudsman’s report, which was not always nice. I think Lipsyte’s recommendations could be applied in other areas where consistent execution of journalism has fallen off, which is just about everywhere! Take the time to read the whole report. It’s not that long. Here’s a taste:
I think that improvement is most needed in ESPN’s inconsistent execution of journalism, which does not appear to be the highest of company priorities. That’s understandable from an economic perspective. College football and basketball, for example, are important revenue producers for the company. Extensive investigative reporting into the exploitation of college athletes, and the legal battles around that, would seem to conflict with ESPN’s business model. How do you turn over the rocks in the Southeastern Conference, for instance, while owning the SEC Network?