City Sports Report

Victory is in the air

deflategate_22

Written by Jason Safford

Being a lifelong New York Giants fan, I have no stake in this Super Bowl. However, it does allow me a certain vantage point – to observe this current climate of media hype and hullabaloo over the teams and how they got to this game with a more objective eye to the reality of the situation. My takeaway from “deflategate” is simple – the media took the air out of the ball.

As a kid, I used to pour over the sports pages of New York Newsday, The Daily News, and The New York Times. The stories of players feats, their adversaries, overcoming injuries and adversity, the challenges of individual and team goals, camaraderie, it all got packed into a few hundred words on a page and captivated the minds of sports fans like me. Those reporters wrote with a deadline on their backs and a desire to get a good story in front of eager eyes hungry to read insights into and about the players they loved.

Much has changed over the course of 30 years, no doubt. The rules, the unions, the owners, the endorsements, the contracts – the leagues have grown into economic powerhouses of influence and prestige with far-reaching tentacles on an international scope. But the sports reporters have changed in different ways. As publishers and editors have suffered from a decline in readership and viewership, budgets have been cut and article space has been reduced.

Despite these challenges, the integrity of writing and reporting should not be compromised to the extent that readers have to suffer frivolity and useless controversy that has become all too apparent in today’s news cycle. Sports reporters are supposed to be different from regular newscasters. They are supposed to hold themselves to a higher standard than the regular news anchors who propagate the print outlets and airwaves with countless accounts of depressing, terrifying and tragic stories of everyday happenings. Sports reporters are accountable to the fans for delivering excitement, joy and delusions of grandeur in their brief, tightly packed segments of split-second highlights and impressive statistical analysis of the home teams and superstar players’ achievements. Sports reporters are responsible for providing the bright spot in an otherwise gloomy news cycle.

What has changed in sports over the past 30 years of sports reporting can be best defined by “deflategate”. The game has become less about the actual game itself – instead we are lost in a deluge of instant replay controversies, officiating gaffs and endless deluge of minutia that clouds our minds from any clear enjoyment of the game itself. Exposition of players weaknesses, their off-the-field controversies, their faults and failures, have become more important to sports reporters than giving their fans incredible stories of these adversities being a challenge that made the superstar more human, more believable as someone who fans can root for in hopes of victory.

Rooting for a team or a player is what gives fans some of their greatest moments of joy in life. These are our personal warriors, our protagonists, who face off in a real battle for something meaningful. Sports reporters and newscasters are responsible for delivering the feats of these combatants to our homes and to our children, in a useful and meaningful way that inspires the youngest of us to desire to be something valuable, to achieve greatness. This power is exhibited in no greater form than the ability to determine who makes it or fails to make it into the Hall of Fame. The writers and reporters are our representatives for that great honor to be bestowed onto our most cherished champions. This is the epic culmination of storied victories and outlandish efforts of herculean proportion. There is no room for error in the final judgment of our heroes’ careers.

Athletic ability, achievement, prowess and character are all different challenges today. The history of sports, its athletes, coaches, owners, and the fans has dictated a balance of personalities and passions that has been the task of the writers and reporters to deliver in a meaningful snapshot, a timeless picture of the moment. Each era of sports has had its heroes and its villains, its prognosticators and its intimidators, all with attitudes and arrogance about their abilities, decisions and standings. What was once a clear line in the sand, such as gambling on a sport, has now been muddied by performance enhancing drugs and other personal choices. Our convictions have been called into question. Should a hero who played the game harder than anyone else of his time be judged for his personal weaknesses more so than his desire to achieve greatness? That has been the challenge our sports reporters – to deliver to us the facts so that we may make our judgments with the greatest of consideration to all aspects of the players function.

This weekend a Super Bowl with be played with two great teams whose accomplishments should be touted and hyped with the revelry and fanfare of great storytellers. We are again at the pinnacle of the sports world, with the biggest game of the year, pitchers and catchers about to report, the hockey season beginning its second half, basketball nearing the midway point, and March Madness around the corner. There is no time for deflating points and soft excuses, this is the most exciting time in sports. Otherwise, we should get our highlights from the weather. Since I do not have a team to rout for in this game, I am routing for the air.

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