Tabloid sports journalism has become so sickeningly prevalent that the wacky misadventures of Pacman Jones receive top billing over the improbable rise of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, the Miami Dolphins devil-may-care, circus offense, the Morbid Angel/Deicide/Death supergroup kickball squad, and other Satan/Florida-related sports happenings.
This national obsession with who hit who with what after drinking what while outside of what massage parlor/OTB, or who snorted what while driving what vehicle without what license accompanied by what gendered sex trade laborer stems from the empty, secret satisfaction we seem to get when someone we perceive as better than us fall on their faces. It’s nothing new. What’s left of this nation’s monthly print publications are primarily based on celebrities at their worst. But in the sports, there’s an uglier tinge.
The last ESPN Pacman Jones related article received over 4000 comments.
His colleague Jacksonville WR Matt Jones (no blood relation) dodges a felony cocaine possession charge by entering a treatment program and that story receives 19 comments.
Why the disparity in interest and coverage? Is it a black/white thing? Is it an America thing? Is it a typical sports fan thing? From reading the comments on each of those articles, it’s a perfect storm of all three.
Obviously, empty barrels make the most noise, so it’s foolish to condemn an entire population based on 4000 or so comments, but here goes.
The NFL fan is a strange bird in that he’s perfectly comfortable paying $70 to wear a jersey with another man’s name on the back, yet if that same man moved in next door and worked for FedEx instead of playing in FedEx field, he’d put his realtor on speed dial. (Not only are sweeping generalizations easy, they’re fun too!)
This same crude caricature seems to get such satisfaction from the failures of their sports heroes/villains that sports publications make it a primary focus. Yes, they need to sell papers/chalk up web hits, but it would be nice if they made it a point not to cater to that lowest common denominator, and not for the players sake, but for the sake of the slightly less stupid sports fan.
This isn’t a “leave Pacman alone” diatribe, but more a leave everyone alone diatribe. Leave all these drunken strip club fighters, wife slappers, and drug indulgers out of the spotlight. Not because they’re entitled to a private life or shouldn’t have to endure the media microscope, but because their crimes are BORING. Yes, Pacman Jones is a criminal. But he’s not an interesting criminal. Ed Gein is an interesting criminal. David Berkowitz is an interesting criminal. Brenda Ann Spencer is an interesting criminal. Pacman Jones is just another giant child with too much money and free time.
So until Pacman kills a convent of nuns and performs Pagliacci using their fresh corpses as puppets, let’s focus on the important aspects of sports like, ummmm…on-base percentages of NL left-handed pitchers with runners in scoring position against right-handed pitchers in stadiums without natural grass.