ESPN now has a 20-year, $300 million deal with the University of Texas to run the network promised them in that sweetheart deal that kept UT from leaving the Big XII for the Pac-10. This goes along with ESPN’s already existing 15-year deal with the SEC to televise football and basketball games. But hey, all college teams are the same and operate solely to produce good student athletes, right?
This is beyond laughable. That an organization which breaks news and would therefore have to report on any SEC/Texas scandals has a direct financial stake protecting those entities from too much bad press is a little beyond William Randolph Hearst stirring up war fever.
In short, this deal between ESPN and Texas is in the same vein as the reasons The Daily Show somehow actually became a reputable news source over the networks, talking heads, and pretty much everyone else. It was the only entity that could call out anyone without repercussions. It could call other news outlets biased and simply prove it because The Daily Show has no vested interest in being a news show. Or at least it didn’t a few years ago.
Deadspin is actually less scummy for running pictures of Brett Favre’s dick than ESPN is for forcing everyone to pretend it will cover Texas with any kind of objectivity at all.
And to be clear, it’s not that Texas is somehow up to no good and needs to be caught. It’s the appearance of any kind of bias that has truly ruined old-school reporting and made it impossible to turn to any news channel except PBS and not see people talking loudly about their opinions.
Profits drive everything and are more important than anything else. Screw your idealism.
Now everything you read requires you to consider its source. Not even just sources for a story, but also which newspaper or website wrote/broke the story and why it would have that particular take on it. You even have to ask yourself how that source might have tweaked statistics and quotes to get the story it wanted. You even have to check to see if a given news entity covered a story at all because it might have a political/financial interest to not cover the story.
Whether it’s reality or not, it feels like there’s no such thing as actual news anymore. Everything is news analysis, like when Glenn Beck helpfully stirs up the crazies every night, or when Keith Olbermann talks to no one at all. I love PTI and everything, but it’s really just two reporters sitting around talking about the news, not actually breaking any. Normal people do that shit every day and don’t have to have cable to see it.
This whole issue is also why Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter seem to break every NFL story on ESPN. There just aren’t very many other people to do it (Jay Glazer). Apparently, it’s much more fun to have news analyzed for us and to satisfy whatever opinion we’d like to hold than to just absorb information and analyze it ourselves.
So I have no idea where I was going with this. It just sucks that college sports have become even more of a “haves” and “have-nots” situation than ever. Many people excoriate Major League Baseball for a situation very similar to this one: competitive imbalance due to extreme financial limitations for many teams. But no, it’s cool that Texas gets all this money. It’s not a result of being a big-time program at all. I’m sure the Rice Owls will get their own ESPN network any day now.
So let me end with this: Do we really want both baseball and college football to keep becoming more and more like international club soccer?
If that’s the case, I hope a middle-eastern oil billionaire buys the Padres. That would be sweet.