Can we get a good soundbite, please? Photo by Ivana
In response to the growth of social media, sports media in this age has become a race of who can deliver the news the fastest. Oftentimes at the expense of the truth. Beginning with the internet boom of the 2000s, the relationship between media and athletes has become hostile and downright invasive at times. What was once a day to day news cycle has become a 24/7 news breaking debacle.
The media chews athletes up and spits them out as quickly as they can. Yesterday’s Tim Tebow has become today’s Johnny Manziel in which the media builds athletes up in images they fully construct themselves. I don’t consider it entirely the media’s fault. As the age old saying “If it bleeds it leads” suggests, there is a negative feedback loop between public opinion and media. The media delivers what we’ve proven we want in our habits.
I think the best example of what sports media has become in the internet age is LeBron James’ entire career in the spotlight. James first gained fame in 2002 during his junior year of high school when he was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated. The magazine declared him “The Chosen One” drawing comparisons to Michael Jordan his entire career because of it. He’s been forced to meet a certain expectation and drawing unreasonable ire ever since. The beloved Michael Jordan would have gotten eaten alive in today’s media world because numerous reports indicate he’s an asshole. James’ success paved the way for media in the internet age to follow potential stars from the earliest sign possible, potentially harming their chances in the long run. But the media doesn’t receive the backlash from it, it’s just another washout story for them. LeBron and every superstar in between were built as the next Michael Jordan. Today, top basketball prospects are billed as the next LeBron James.
If we want lazy and dishonest journalism to stop, our habits need to change. A long time ago as a self-righteous teenager, I vowed to never read an online article by The Oregonian sportswriter John Canzano (I’d link him, but you know, morals yadda yadda) ever again because I felt like he produced shoddy biased work. I was going to stick it to the newspaper right where it hit them: revenue. Even though I failed in reaching my goal of getting him fired (in fact he actually has a radio show now, so he’s done quite well for himself despite my noble stand) I’ve held strong in my beliefs because views and shares run media today. If we want better player relationships and interactions, we need to change. If not, prepare for more Marshawn Lynchesque interviews.
Will a new president bring the change FIFA needs? Or will he just be the next one up for a deeply corrupted organization? Photo by Wayne Roddy
The global soccer governing body, FIFA, announced this past Friday that current UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino was elected to be the next president of what is likely the most powerful organization in all of sports. FIFA has been under immense scrutiny ever since the May 2015 arrests of seven top officials on corruption charges in Switzerland and subsequent charges made by the United States government. Infantino’s election comes in light of former president Sepp Blatter and heir apparent Michael Platini’s eight-year bans from all FIFA events. The scandal has been a public relations nightmare for FIFA, including public reprimands by some of the largest corporations in the world, severance of partnerships from others, and the release of arguably the worst movie of all time. The ruling body that is capable of bringing North Korea and the United States together on a grassy field needs Infantino to right a ship that has been sailing crooked for far too long.
From the looks of it, Infantino is starting his tenure off on the right foot. As he helped open a new FIFA museum in his first act as president, he declared his intent to implement reforms to the ruling body. It is important in this time of change that he reiterates that the organization is making the changes its publics need to see for reassurance. In what was a massive part of the previous regime’s abhorrent corruption, Qatar was awarded the 2022 World Cup in 2010 despite its complete lack of infrastructure at the time. To meet the promises it laid out in its bid, the nation has embarked on an incredibly horrific migrant worker system that has left thousands dead already. Huge sponsors including Visa, Coca-Cola, and Adidas, are calling for Infantino to address the human rights issues FIFA has turned a blind eye to thus far.
Infantino and FIFA have a massive hill to climb in righting the wrongs of its previous leaders. In my opinion, stripping Qatar of the World Cup bid it won would be the strongest and most symbolic act Infantino could make at this time. It would show the world that FIFA is making the necessary changes it desperately needs to make during this period of mistrust from its publics and also that it values the rights of the voiceless. Realistically, I don’t see a shake up that large happening, but I do hope Infantino takes a page out of NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s playbook and levies a heavy hand early to set a tone.