Must-See TV

Recently just prior to commercial break on ESPN’s “Sports Center” the anchor person spoke over a clip of several NHL players going at one another on the ice. She told her audience: “Five fights going on at once? Now that’s must-see TV. Stay tuned.”

ESPN also likes to show clips from a program being run on another network that focuses attention on the pressures on little boys, ages 6 or 7, in an organized youth football league. It shows the coaches screaming at the boys and admonishing them to take out their opponent. “Use your helmet. Get him out of there.” It also shows the coaches verbally and physically abusing the boys and the boys politely responding with “yes, sir” or “no, sir.” The NFL has been critical of the show, though one of the talking heads on ESPN’s “Around the Horn” charged the NFL with being hypocritical, for promoting violence and ignoring the complex and costly issue of concussions among football players. But, seriously, doesn’t ESPN warrant much of the blame? They routinely highlight violence in sports. It draws the audience and sells the products that keep the show on the air.

I haven’t watched the aforementioned show about child abuse and don’t plan to. But many will. I imagine it will be a big hit (pardon the pun!).

And we wonder why this nation is prone to violence. Seriously?


7 thoughts on “Must-See TV

  1. There is a lot of blame to go around. We need coaches teaching how to tackle without getting hurt. I have coached enough Little League to spot when a coach is there for his glory more than teaching the kids sportsmanship and the game. This football coach is probably the same one who loads his team with talented kids rather than work to evenly divide the talent amongst the teams. By crushing his opponents, he is placating an over-sized ego. Sorry for the rant, BTG

  2. There is, indeed, a lot of blame to go around. And these reality shows are so heavily produced and edited that the most-tense or most-dramatic moments are going to make it on TV. Yet, there are still many coaches, and parents, who behave like that even when there are no cameras. ESPN should shoulder a great deal of the blame, along with the NFL and NHL (and viewers). I read the history of ESPN book two years ago, and it reveals the depths of the network’s financial partnerships with the NFL and the NCAA in particular — they are so dependent upon one another (for money, for ratings) it’s often near-impossible to draw the lines between network and NFL or network and NCAA anymore.

    One of the other “sports” that seems to run on unfettered violence, without much societal outcry, is mixed-martial arts, of which ESPN also is a heavy broadcaster. It’s pretty much street-brawling in a ring — minimally padded gloves, no headgear. Considering all the concussion evidence emerging like a tidal wave in football (from youth through the NFL) and hockey, Lord knows how much brain damage is being done in mixed-martial arts. And those guys won’t have the money for long-term care or even to mount the big lawsuits that ex-NFL players have. And I wonder how much the MMA organizations would be able to financially help anyway. If I had any say on that thing, I’d a) get the AMA involved and also find a lawyer right now who can go to work proving ESPN is culpable for whatever damages may occur.

    Yep, we are a violent-loving society. Seems there was once another society that, in its waning days, was similar. We give our gladiators uniforms and paint our faces in the color of those uniforms. And when they are maimed or die, we just wait for the next man to step in. Movies like Rollerball, Death Race and The Hunger Games maybe aren’t far-off science fiction anymore.

    My turn to say sorry for the rant. (!) I still believe in America’s young people — probably more than you, Hugh, as you and I have discussed many times — but it’s harder and harder to believe much in America itself. This has got to be one of the lowest points in our cultural/societal history.

    • Very good comment, Dana. I would also mention the determination of ESPN to highlight high school football recently — including the “signing” of high school recruits by prestigious colleges at the NCAA I level.

  3. Is it just me or is there something radically wrong about the fact that thousands of people in this country are homeless and cannot put food on the table and yet the New York Yankees baseball team can spend $491 million on new players during this off-season?

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