My pathetic profession

While working out at the gym earlier today, I had the misfortune of watching ESPN’s coverage of Super Bowl Media Day II. Specifically, I saw some reporter ask Pittsburgh’s Willie Parker some of the dumbest questions of all time (Note: My mom says there’s no such thing as a dumb question. She is wrong.) Among the inquiries:

• “You had a long run in the last Super Bowl you played in. Would you like another one of those?”

• “Are you tired of being asked questions like these?”

Come to think of it, that second one is pretty good, because it allows Willie Parker to say, “Are you f-ing kidding me? Are you f-ing kidding me? Of course I’m tired. Y’all can’t think of one original thing to ask me. Not one. So, yeah, I’m tired, because you’re a moron, and just because I’m paid phat dollars doesn’t mean I should be forced to sit here and listen to this bullshit.”

Sadly, Parker merely smiled and nodded. Oy.

Really, watching such affairs reminds me of why I left Sports Illustrated six years ago. I was tired of the garbage. Sports can be sooooo cliched, and while many don’t seem to mind, it actually drove me to drink. First, there’s the presumption that these athletes are fascinating people—which, 98% of the time, they’re not. Think about it: Your life is train, compete, train, compete, train, compete. Sure, the pay is great. And women will sleep with you in odd positions. But does that result in a riveting humanoid? I’d argue the opposite.

Second, while I respect many of my professional peers, the large majority suck. Not suck, in the “bad” sense. “Suck,” as in they have no interest in striving to go beyond. Take a guy like Tom Verducci, for example. Tom and I were co-workers for six years at Sports Illustrated, and he’s the best reporter I’ve ever seen. Why? Because the guy probed; asked real questions; hunted around for the right answers; never, ever, ever fell in with a pack of reporters, standing to the side and comparing notes. He rose above, and saw sports (in his case, baseball) in a very unique light. But Tom’s a rare gem. Most reporters head straight for the quarterback; run the standard cliches; nod with every banal answer. It’s sickening, but reality.

Anyhow, I’m babbling. But you probably get my drift.

3 thoughts on “My pathetic profession”

  1. Speaking as a struggling sports reporter (I’m currently “freelancing”), I think the problem is that no one in the industry rewards enterprise anymore. With all the cuts all that many reporters have the energy for is standard clichés and banal answers. And, you’re right. It is sickening, but reality.

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