Like most people who watch ESPN, what I enjoy most is the opportunity to hear sports news quickly, in real time, 24 hours per day. I love to know who signed where, who got traded, the score to a game, etc. ESPN and its associated website are the quintessential medium for all the sports one could ever desire. My problem now is that there is a lot less news and a whole lot more speculation. ESPN actually is short for “Entertainment and Sports Programming Network.” With that it’s probably my fault, for solely expecting to know the facts behind a trade or a signing, not what one anonymous person’s speculation. The network is going to illuminate what generates ratings, not always wait for the final outcome.
The trend for the network’s on-air personalities to quote anonymous sources on air, on the website, or via Twitter has increased exponential in the last 6-12 months. Sports journalism is a cutthroat business, and it’s imperative to be the first person to break a story. This is all well and good, but I find it irritating. Seriously, who are these “sources”? The old guy at the coffee shop that I see every morning on the way to work has been a sports fan longer than I’ve been alive. He keeps up with all the latest development … is he a “source”? Is the janitor who empties the trash can of Brooklyn Nets general manager Billy King a source since he/she sometimes comes in while King is on the phone and may hear 10 seconds of his phone calls? Sorry for being such a skeptic, but the whole secretive, immeasurable accuracy of the whole deal annoys me. Here are two very recent examples of how this “source” business is stupid:
The case of Jeremy Lin.
- ESPN and the website contributor Marc Stein quoted a source that said the New York Knicks would match any offer sheet Jeremy Lin signed up to one billion dollars.
- Days later blowhard Stephen A. Smith quoted a source saying that the Knicks would NOT match the offer the Houston Rockets made to Mr. Lin
The Dwight Howard fiasco (Often termed the Dwightmare. Just for the record, Dwight Howard is now easily the most annoying athlete on the planet. His passive aggressive show of force is pathetic, especially considering he is an enormous underachiever. I don’t discount what he’s accomplished, but he could and should do so much more.)
- When “new” rumors circled about Howard once again being traded to the Lakers, a source said that Howard would be open resigning with the team. This is contrary to all previous reports that Howard would only resign with the Brooklyn Nets if traded.
- Maybe 12 hours after this awesome, and of course anonymous source provided this important nugget of information, Howards agent firmly stated that his client would not sign with anyone, and would test free agency. So who exactly did this obviously well connected source get their erroneous information from? Clearly they didn’t talk to Howard or his agent … really the only people who know the truth.
All of this yo-yoing is ridiculous for a company that bills itself as a news entity. If this were TMZ I don’t think anyone would care. Although maybe less entertaining, wouldn’t it have been better if everyone just waited 3 days to see if Jeremy Lin would actually be going to New York? Instead of the whole world being teased on Dwight Howard’s next destination, can’t we all just wait for it to happen? I know this may sound boring to some, but isn’t this how things were for decades? Didn’t we all wait for news to happen, not make it up and then change it? That doesn’t sound like news, it sounds more like sub par fortune telling.