A message from the sports editor

I have, as I have my entire life, every ambition to enter the world of sports media following my graduation, and I will be proud to call myself a sports journalist.

But right now, a part of my industry sickens me.

Like the rest of the business world, it seems, sports media has strayed away from the path it was once on and has put its tail in between its legs and scampered over to the path that will lead to money.

I’m talking specifically about what many people in the industry call the “mother ship” in ESPN.
All summer long, I witnessed egocentric athletes dominate the headlines, and mostly for the wrong reasons.

At the beginning of the summer, I watched the Dwight Howard saga unfold before my eyes. Here is an NBA player, perhaps the best player in the world at the center position, drawing national attention because he couldn’t get along with Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles, making him move to Houston.

Later on, I sat with my mouth open trying to wrap my head around the Aaron Hernandez case. Hernandez, of course, is the former New England Patriots’ tight end who was arrested and accused of murder. As the story unfolded, it appeared Hernandez had an incredibly dark side to him, putting a huge shadow on an otherwise classy Patriots organization.

Then, I started getting hourly updates on the progress of baseball’s new “golden boy” in Los Angeles Dodgers’ rookie sensation, Yasiel Puig. Except here is the reason why he seems to be the new poster child for ESPN’s coverage of Major League Baseball: he has a hot-headed attitude.

While Puig has undoubtedly put up some great stats, a rookie counterpart in Tampa Bay, Wil Myers, is putting up almost as equally impressive of numbers, yet he gets about as much coverage on ESPN as you and I do.

Then came the two most interesting cases I’ve seen in a while.

There was the infamous second round of busting performance enhancing drug users in Major League Baseball with the two head honchos leading the way in our hometown Ryan Braun and the always flamboyant Alex Rodriguez. In fact, ESPN had their own separate categories on the Bottom Line, meant specifically for scores, on Braun and A-Rod, updating us with their every move.

And lastly, we’ve had to deal with the constant scrutiny of Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. Manziel made a lot of noise this offseason for, in my opinion, acting like a normal college student.
The NCAA wants sports media to portray Manziel as a Tim Tebow-like poster boy, but Manziel was continually appearing in party pictures and normal shenanigans college students like to do best. I would like to question every one of these reporters and show hosts whether or not they ever enjoyed a beverage or two at a large gathering in college. Come on, now, have some common sense.

Then, of course, came the autograph saga and whether he not he received money for giving away his signature, something that is a red flag to the NCAA. ESPN debated for weeks what was going to happen to Manziel, and it almost always made the front headlines of SportsCenter, a show that has become more of a soap opera than anything.

These stories collect the interest of people, this I know. And with more people comes more money. That’s basic economics, and this I also know.

But the real reason many of us enter the journalism industry is to find stories that will inspire audiences to persevere and ultimately make a difference.

The mother ship has gotten away from, something they used to do quite well.

Too many great stories go untold because of the constant following of sports loudest and most controversial athletes.

Did you know of Puig’s Dodger teammate, Matt Kemp, giving his uniform to a young man with cancer after a ballgame earlier this summer?

Did you know that Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron wears a bracelet every game that a young girl with leukemia gave him a few weeks before the National Championship Game and that McCarron is now her godfather?

Did you know of Olympian Nick Symmonds outspoken stand against Russia’s anti-gay laws
in this summer’s Track and Field World Championships in Moscow?

Or for goodness sake, did you know that a fan caught four foul balls at a Cleveland Indians game this summer?

These are the types of stories that make sports so great. Sports are not only meant to show off the best athletes in the world, but they’re meant to inspire audiences to take risks, become leaders and enjoy the things they do.

My challenge to you here at UW-Eau Claire this semester is this: enjoy sports for what they are and don’t let a few boisterous athletes ruin what is a beautiful thing.

It’s time the media brings back the magic in sports, and when I enter the industry for good, I attempt to do just that.