Some things are thoroughly rotten with media coverage of March Madness and Major League Baseball this spring. New York Post columnist Phil Mushnick exposed television networks airing these respective sports for celebrating cheating coaches and athletes.
TV executives think they know what’s best for us, Mushnick charges. Fox Sports and the MLB Network are employing former steroids cheater Alex Rodriguez as a baseball announcer -- mistakenly thinking baseball fans are smitten with him. Not so, says Mushnick, who counters “we’re sickened by him”:
“Why? Is it because TV can’t do any better at half the cost? Or because TV thinks we don’t deserve any better? Or is it that TV hires dolts as its shot-callers?”
Rodriguez has extremely low credibility, in Mushnick’s opinion. He is MLB’s “most visible and rewarded disreputable recidivist drug cheat and liar.” Yet he is America’s star prime-time Sunday MLB presence, “speaking his all-knowing contradictory nonsense” as the weekend star of Fox’s “worthless” MLB studio show.
Mushnick says Rodriguez is still the same guy who previously lent his name and fame to an organization combating lethal steroid use among high school athletes. Only “to betray that organization and those kids by further juicing to further enrich his fame and fortune.”
Television networks are also guilty of glorifying college basketball cheaters, the New York Post writer points out. He accused CBS TV personalities Jim Nantz, Clark Kellogg, Grant Hill, Kevin Harlan, Tracy Wolfson and others of lining up to portray coaches as special humans and great men. The one thing the coaches have in common “is doing whatever it takes to win a basketball game for the colleges that serve as their teams’ fronts”:
“With the NCAA Tournament, a billion-dollar TV property, back in mass view, a look at the college basketball coaches enshrined in halls of fame finds many who ran far afoul of NCAA rules as a means to their NCAA Tournament ends, and reveals their schools’ willingness to play their kind of ball. The repetitive play of both parties was the wink and nod.
“And early on in this tournament it seemed that significant, whatever-it-takes recruiting truths were evaded.”
Implying that Utah State had loaded up its team with questionable foreign recruits, Mushnick noted that CBS broadcasters Carter Blackburn and Debbie Antonelli conveniently ignored the controversy.
That’s the history of television sports. It got going in earnest with the late North Carolina State coach Jim Valvano, “now ESPN’s sanctified version of Our Lady of Guadalupe.” Jimmy V became ESPN royalty even though, as a coach, he got caught cheating too many times to continue that career.
“Soon, big-name college coaches who were fired for running runaway programs found TV networks to be eager and enriching, no-questions-asked, easy-money employment havens,” Mushnick explains.
Mushnick didn’t mention LSU’s Coach Will Wade, but he is another blight upon this year’s Big Dance. Wade is facing allegations of recruiting violations and the threat of future sanctions. Which could one day make him a prime candidate for a CBS or ESPN broadcasting role.