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Sports Media is Broken- Opinion

This article will not be for everyone used to our normal content here. I admit upfront this is my opinion. Please take a few minutes to read it though. I want to have a conversation with you about sports media- I think it is broken and I am not the only one.  Bob Nightengale wrote a masterpiece on this subject and used the Ohtani coverage as the backdrop for his concerns.


PLEASE read that article here first.




Folks, seriously please pause and read the USAToday article before continuing. I think it is that important.


I have been trying for some time to describe my assessment of the current state of sports media.  Please consider this.


Joseph Goebbels – Nazi Germany’s Propaganda Chief has been attributed to say:


“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”


The Nazis were notorious as propagandists.  The truth eventually destroyed them.


Without trying to sound too over the top in this statement I would say that this statement describes my view of the current state of sports media and their parasitical relationship with sports agents and social media. 


Similarly, I think this sports propaganda relationship is destroying sports media and sports themselves.


If sports agents can get the popular media to tell and repeat their lies about their clients long enough, people and possibly other sports franchises will eventually come to believe it. If franchises believe the lies, they can take actions to benefit the agent’s player.  These lies can be maintained only as long as the media shields the people from the truth, often by refusing to check sources and engage in true journalism or basic analysis. It becomes vitally important for the media to repress alternate perspectives and data, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the parasitical relationship between agents and media desperate for attention and the “scoop” the agents are falsely feeding them.


Folks, it is far more difficult and time consuming to engage in data and statistical analysis and easier to rely on “sources” for answers.  Most of them will hate me for saying this but many in the media seem to be incapable of analyzing the data.  It’s easier to just dismiss the data and what it would indicate- even though the most successful teams in all sports have fully engaged in data analysis and have repeatedly used it for advantages over their peers. Often times, I feel like this site is viewed as the enemy of the agenda and that we are being repressed.


I would also submit that the plethora of data available has led to vast confusion over what data is efficacious and which are unproductive.  Sports media was better before the data explosion or maybe we were just as grossly misinformed and did not know it.


At least in prior eras of sports journalism, reporters were given access to and spent endless hours with the team. Their primary stories came from those relationships.  Today, in a much more limited access environment, reporters are getting information from sources who are sharing ONLY what they want the press and therefore you to know.


I posted this on social media in July. (slight addition here)

A friend said this to me. Listen to him now or hear it from me later. "People don’t get that the people who know what’s going on are only sharing info they want known."

Those that are quoting sources are really the "Useful idiots" for front offices and agents. Just think of them that way.

 

You may be wondering “Why are you writing this Larry?”

 

One, I am frustrated with the state of sports media.  I am tired of how certain people constantly misinform you and instead of being discredited more and more follow them.  I am frustrated that only a core audience seems to really desire the truth and analysis.


I am going to be very vulnerable with you for a minute. I am scarred by two years of fighting for the truth against Maldy’s and Gurriel’s cult like propaganda machines and even self-reported people connected with the team (probably fakers or possibly real- I don’t really care.)  This Bob Nightengale article just rolled back the curtain to show what I have been really going up against with data and analysis- a propaganda machine out to misinform you.


Let me be clear, I do not assume for one minute anyone on the Astros or any players or agents know who I am, nor do I expect they care what I say here. You know those things and I feel like I have been waging a war for the hearts and minds of the Astros fan base against a machine out to propagandize you.


You may think that is way too over the top. That is what it has felt like to me for over two years. I want the best for this team. Always remember that.


I am mean and salty and have no patience for alternative opinions because I have been misquoted and intentionally lied about by so many.  Hardly a week goes by without someone lying about what I said and responding to my posts about my articles saying they say something they don’t say.  Responding to the title of my articles without taking five minutes to read them is rampant. 


One might say, well Larry that is just society today. Why?


Are you so eager to move to the next social media post and just be snarky that you can’t be informed or challenged to think?  Why?


So what is the point?


You are getting the media coverage you want. You are largely choosing to reward those that click bait you and misinform you.  If the media lies to you, hold them accountable.  If I lie to you, debate me on the FACTS.


I am debated on facts so rarely that I WISH it would happen.  I am debated on how the truth makes you feel almost daily by those just reacting to titles.

If I can be so blunt. I rather you hate me but know I am giving you the truth that love me for lying to you. I want to be the place you go to answer, “is this true?”


Let me tell you a story I have shared with a few friends.  In my career I had a role where integrating acquisitions and their people into my large multi-national company was a side role and occasionally my core role.  In one of the sites I had a people leadership responsibility for, the site leader once told me this.  I think this statement may have been one of the greatest descriptions of me ever and is true for this site.


“Larry talking to you is like going to see the doctor and being given a prescription for a terrible tasting medicine.  I know I need to take it.  I know it will make me better. It still tastes bad. Thank you.” 


That site leader understood I did not hate him.  I did not hate his people.  He understood that what I was encouraging him to do is exactly what he needed to do even if he did not want to.  He appreciated me for helping him.


PLEASE take that approach with my content here.  I LOVE the Astros. I spend more hours in a week thinking about the Astros than most people spend at their jobs. I will write articles all night if I am engaged in the subject and on a roll.


So what about the Nightingale article?


I think it is a refreshing, rare, and critically needed self-assessment of the sports media.


Here are some of the symptoms of the media issues he discusses in the Ohtani context:

  • “We baseball writers have disgraced ourselves, becoming an embarrassment to the journalism community.”

  • The sloppy rush to be first enables fake stories.

  • Putting fake stories into the propaganda repeat machine.

  • Lazy acceptance of single sources and no checking with principal parties of the story.

  • No questioning of the motives of the source.

  • Demanding A story vs. reporting THE REAL story

    • "Here are Ohtani and his agent, Nez Balelo, operating in total radio silence, but we were so pompous and arrogant that we actually criticized the way they were handling their free-agent negotiations.”

    • “We would rather have them leaking the teams involved in the bidding, reporting who’s in, who’s out, and wildly throwing out numbers to see if we can have teams bidding against themselves.”

    • “The way Ohtani conducted his free agency should be praised, not criticized.”

    • “My God, it was so refreshing not having Ohtani and Balelo leak a single thing, and actually announce their own signing, complete with the contract figures.”

  • Media being used/ Leaks

    • “Let’s stop kidding ourselves into believing we are a conduit to fans in the offseason, delivering information on their favorite teams and favorite players.”

    • “We are being used and don’t mind, even embracing it.”

    • “You know how many of these stories are leaked by agents? Try 95%. Maybe higher.”

    • "It’s unbelievable as to how certain members of the media promote clients of certain agencies," one veteran agent said, “and more shameful is the fact there is little to no media accountability. No wonder why we have so many clubs and industry personnel being misled."

The statements Bob made here are some of the most transparent and should give every consumer of sports media pause. We should ask (and I often do) “where is that story coming from” or “who is benefiting from this story?”


More bullets from Bob

  • Media driving the agenda

    • “And once that contract is complete, and you were among the first to report it, you better believe we’ll hype your deal and tell everyone it was a stroke of genius, helping indirectly to recruit other clients.”

    • “We have agents who flat-out lie to us, but teams are prohibited from calling them out because of language in the collective bargaining agreement.”

Earlier, I said the media are acting like useful idiots and Bob confirms that here. The path to fixing this with them refusing to be used also.


  • Media making themselves a story – often inaccurately. “We can’t even accurately report on ourselves now, let alone real baseball news.”

  • Nightengale’s conclusions

    • “It’s a time to slow our roll – myself included – before we lose all of our credibility.”

    • “If we learned anything in this Ohtani hysteria, we should remind ourselves of the values and ethics of journalism that we learned when we broke into this business, and become more cautious, careful and accurate when delivering news.”


Unfortunately, I think it is too late for most in the media. They have little to no credibility with informed fans. I think the article Bob Nightengale wrote here should be heard and it is time for the media to demand more from itself.


Unfortunately, I think the current sports media is corrupt. There I said it.  I see little evidence they care about giving us the truth.  I see mountains of evidence they care about clicks, followers, money, and being famous.


How do I think we cure this?  How do we fix sports media? Unfortunately, I don’t know.  I will say it starts with the consumers of sports media.  The customer is always right.  Ultimately, we get the sports media we watch and engage.  Stop rewarding those who repeatedly lie to you.  Hold them accountable. Pull subscriptions from those that lie to you.  Turn off channels that lie to you. 


Unfortunately, I am not confident this will even work.

 

My commitment to you is this. I will try to do my part. PLEASE engage me and hold me accountable.  I do put out titles that are trying to draw in an audience, however my content is focused on objective analysis.  I do not use sources to drive the content you see here.  It is self-serving to say, but I am going to anyway. If you want an escape for media fake narratives, THIS is the place for you.


Please help us in our quest to provide data based objective analysis.


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