How The Media Shapes Minds: Truth vs. The Tabloid

By Michael Tillery
Updated: July 27, 2005

PressNEW YORK — When are journalists going to write about something that mothers of professional athletes can be proud of? What happened to the sheer spirit of sports and the goosebumps that follow when an athlete performs in the clutch? When did sports become gossip? Damn you, Walter Winchell!

For those of you who are clamoring for the search box in your browser, trying to find out who the hell Winchell was. I personally think it was he that demonized sports and anything that entertains us for that matter.

He was a news paperman and commentator in the early to mid 1900’s whose thirst for gossip ruined many an politician and and entertainer, Josephine Baker for one, and spawned the Vesceys and the Baylesss of the current sports journalism world.

It is again my humble opinion that papers can be sold without throwing a brick at an undeserving, minding his own business athlete and then having the audacity to question his obvious angry response. I have no intention to get personal with any athlete when I can just be content in creatively writing about his athletic achievements and the good he does for his fellow man.

That is, if he chooses to do so. I also have no intention in shaping an impressionable reader with BS. about what kind of music his favorite athlete’s mother’s sister’s God daughter’s neighbor-on his auntie’s side-listens to on her way to the local bingo night. I want the reader to visually and mentally learn about the athlete him or herself without prejudice.

How long ago did Chris Webber motion for timeout? Can you name the starting five for Carolina in that game? Why was Albert Belle’s incredible year of ’95 basically made to non-existent in a year when his team made it to the World Series, eventually losing to the Bravos in six? (.317,52 doubles, 50 home runs, 126 rbi’s, .690 slugging, no MVP, in 143 games!)

Public outrage is irrelevant. Don’t hate! Why is ARod’s salary always mentioned? Didn’t he sign for the market value at the time? Be happy for yourself when you get that 3.00 an hour raise that you obviously think you deserve.

His salary has absolutely nothing to do with you watching sports. Learn to appreciate him for the gracefulness he exhibits when diving behind the bag and robbing Varitek of a game winning double, or his willingness to break up a double play with one out, down by one and a runner on third.

There was a time when athletes were considered role models. Ha! What happened to raising your own kids? Just because little Bobby is wearing Barry Bonds’ throwback jersey from his Pirate days, doesn’t mean that he’ll be a 40-40 player or stay skinny for that matter.

Hypothetically speaking, why would you want your child to emulate an athlete who has a squeaky clean image publicly, but behind closed doors is feeling up his daughter?

Why is there still this thing where Babe Ruth is considered to be the best player, or athlete, for that matter, of all time? You ask most kids today who is the best baseball player to ever play and what will they say? Ruth. How the hell can that be? His stats speak for themselves, but he played in a time when no minorities to speak of were allowed to participate.

How would history perceive Bonds if Josh Gibson,( .350, “almost 800 homeruns” in 17 Negro League seasons and the only player credited with hitting a fair ball out of the House That “Ruth” Built), owned the “hallowed” homerun record?

There are so, so, so many writers who say anything that is going to shape their readers opinions of particular athletes. They want their readers to demoralize or to characterize an athlete in a less than accurate way.

Writers have a responsibility in helping our youth garner diverse opinions regarding sports and to respectfully take accountability for said opinions whenever the need arises.

To the journalist who is in it for the money, this might be too quick for your 100 meter time. To the writer of a hopefully perceived historical reference, break the tape first. Strive to be someone your kids kids will be proud of.

You have your ear to the athletic street. Have some respect for yourself! Do all of us a favor and leave the gossip for weekday afternoons.