Once upon a time, media and athletes enjoyed a different relationship. Additionally, fans viewed sports media in a different light. As a long-time viewer and current writer, I am rather disgusted with the landscape. What I see is a world of unbelievably shallow, tactless, and utterly trash behavior by many members of sports media. Granted, true talent still exists. Yet, with each passing year, the number of abhorrent thought and hot take artists multiplies.
On Wednesday, Amber Dixon, sports anchor from LV3, tweeted a photo of an Instagram interaction. The other person in the conversation, Raiders WR Antonio Brown did not appear pleased. Dixon messaged Brown, requesting a picture of his feet. Granted, Brown’s feet remain a source of news because of the speculation regarding his injury. Yet, Dixon’s approach remains problematic. First, you would think she would possess the connections that would allow her to contact Antonio Brown via other avenues. If this weren’t for clout, why do it? Next, imagine that interaction reversed. Think about a Black media member doing this to Megan Rapinoe or Alex Morgan’s injured feet. I guarantee you that people would not laugh this off as a troll. The double standard is real.
I direct messaged Antonio Brown’s Instagram account and asked for a picture of his feet. I was surprised to get a response. pic.twitter.com/IgI3ESd7lO
— Amber Dixon (@AmberNews3LV) August 7, 2019
In all fairness, I try not to give Jason Whitlock not a scintilla of much thought. He remains a voice of a small population that appears devoid of reason and logic. If you want a laugh, Google his obsession with Colin Kaepernick. Setting that aside, my specific issue with Whitlock is his take on LeBron James and his son. If you remember, footage of James attending his son’s basketball game. During the deadspots, James delighted the crowd with an impromptu dunk contest. Whitlock devoted national TV time to dress down James.
“It’s inappropriate,” Whitlock said. “It points to how much fame has inevitably changed LeBron over the past decade. Fame is a drug more potent and dangerous than cocaine. LeBron is a fame and social media junkie. He moved to Los Angeles looking for a better high.”
Instead of commending a father for actively participating in the lives of their children, Whitlock criticizes an athlete for having fun. While nothing illicit happened, Whitlock achieved his goal. He’s a contrarian that takes aim at Black athletes, in order to differentiate himself in media. There is a rather strong word for that, but I’d advise you looking it up elsewhere.
In examining Dixon and Whitlock’s attempts to grab spotlight, one thing remains clear: folks will do anything for a drop of attention. Now, that is not to say every member of sports media would lower themselves to such a depth. However, it shines a light on the media member becoming the story, and not the athletes. If Dixon legitimately asked about the condition of Antonio Brown’s feet, this article would not exist. Similarly, if Whitlock doesn’t try LeBron James over his parenting enjoyment, you are not reading this. Yet, the search for notoriety leads to these acts of desperation.
If you look at this in a broader scope, consider this: media determines Hall of Fame worthiness. Writers and media types possess the privilege of voting players into various halls of fame. If a player stiffs a writer on quotes, the pettiness of the writer could see the player wait longer than he needs to. Terrell Owens and Charles Haley spring to mind. While neither enjoyed a fruitful relationship with the media, both deserved prompt election into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. During his career, Owens endured a contentious relationship with the media, local and national. Yet, his numbers screamed first ballot. Yet, media with axes to grind, made an example. In the closed selection room, Owens’ case for induction needed to last less than a minute. If media members like Dixon and Whitlock persist, why should athletes talk to them? Outlets like the Players Tribune circumvented the need for major media interaction.
The media will always challenge a player, which is the hallmark of the industry. However, trolling, clout chasing and hot takes invaded the landscape. The ultimate arbiter of where the line should reside remains the viewer/reader/listener. Meanwhile, the larger populace wants athlete interaction from an unbiased source with the only agenda being truth and dialogue.