June 14, 2017
I just discovered that Vocativ Sports is no more. I find it particularly distressing in that this was an outlet that wasn’t the least bit shy in reporting on the injustices in the sports world. One of their writers Robert Silverman I’ll particularly miss on the Vocativ platform (although I believe he’ll find a good landing spot elsewhere.) Bob has never been one to mince words when it comes to inequities and dirty deeds in the sports world. In addition to this, he’s a nice guy, and one of the few to actually cite me, a low-level blogger, the few times when I have managed to actually break a news story. I appreciate this gesture greatly.
More importantly, though, I’m seeing a trend I don’t like in the world of sports media. ESPN recently laid off a number of good journalists, and while many good ones still remain, the trend I’m observing is not to keep the most intelligent or thought provoking personalities, but rather those who have abrasive personalities or those who manipulate their audiences with content that is high on emotion but low on facts.
Concussions, painkiller abuse, exploitation of student athletes through amateurism NCAA style – these issues and many more have been brought to the public’s attention because of those in the media who found the issues important enough to write on and speak about. In fact, both the NFL and NHL tend to blame the media for inciting fans with “hype.” I feel there are many within profit-oriented circles who’d like to hush up the dissenting media and go back to the sheer entertainment of sports without any responsibility to the athletes – without whom there would be no games – no entertainment for the public to watch.
I’m seeing this in the Kaepernick situation – “just shut up and play – don’t subject me to your thoughts and ideas…” to those who would like to believe the concussion issue is overblown, to those who tend to blame “rich” athletes for their own problems, without having to contemplate how the leagues (and even fans) contribute to the challenges high-level athletes face on a day to day basis. The trend seems to be tipping in favor of appealing to the lowest common denominator audience and the dumbing down of the public in the name of clicks, ratings, and entertainment over information.
We’ve seen a lot of progress in recent years because of an aggressive media, and we can’t lose this ground. So I’m asking everyone to support good journalism, share articles on Facebook and Twitter, or whatever platforms you use and encourage others to do the same. This is the one weapon in the average person’s arsenal that CAN make a difference. We need to show our support and appreciation for good journalism as never before.
Sheilla Dingus founded Advocacy for Fairness in Sports in October 2016, after a stint with Defenders of the Wall, a New England Patriots based blog where she dived deep into the legal aspects of Deflategate. Along the way, she observed many inequities in sports and felt a need to address some of the under-reported stories in sports law. She draws from her background as a former professional dancer, who like many of the athletes she writes about, took an early retirement due to orthopedic injuries. After a return trip to college she worked for a legal software company, with seven years as a Project Manager and Analyst. She brings her analytical skills to the table in breaking down complex lawsuits, and enjoys pursuing her longtime interest in journalism.