I hate ESPN. This has already been stated on this blog many a time. Whether it is the obvious East Coast they litter the airwaves with for decades, whether it is the no talent hacks that don’t even watch sports that they employ, or whether it is a pop culture channel masquerading as a news station, ESPN is horrible yet it is really the only option when it comes to national sports commentary. However, none of those aforementioned reasons why I hate ESPN are dangerous to the fabric of society. Frustrating…yes. Dangerous….no.
But this new reason to hate ESPN is: the irresponsibility of using their media voice to exalt bad people.
Today, Aaron Hernandez killed himself in his jail cell. This is something you or I should not really know or care about. He is a sociopath murderer who just happened to kill himself because he didn’t want to be behind bars the rest of his life. Not really a big deal. Maybe we can all take a little bit of joy out of the fact we don’t need to use government funds to keep this piece of garbage alive anymore, but that’s about it.
But instead of this being a small news story, ESPN not only made this their main talking point on all of their talk shows (both TV and radio), they highlighted his entire sports life; from high school to college to pro.
Now I know ESPN would argue they did not paint him in a glorified light. However I would argue the mere fact that they are giving him tons of attention, regardless of how the attention is doled out, is grandizing him in a way he does not deserve. If there is one thing we learned from our past election, any attention is good attention.
The main message that ESPN carried throughout the day about Hernandez is that it is a sad story that a man who achieved so much threw it all away. I never understood that logic. I don’t find that sad. I find it disgusting that someone was given something (in this case, athletic ability) and didn’t have the appreciation to conduct himself in a fitting way (in Hernandez case, a way that did not involve killing other people). If you gave a kid an ice cream cone and he threw it down, do you feel bad for that id that he literally just threw away an opportunity given to him to eat some ice cream? I guess my sympathy doesn’t extend as far as others.
This is not limited to ESPN (I mean this is a Global post, not a Sports post). The media has had a history of exalting the malicious of our society. From Ted Bundy to Jeffery Dahmer to Aaron Hernandez, these are people that we all know and therefore have become icons in our society. Know who Robert Jarvik is? Know who Edward Witten is? Know who Tim Berners-Lee is? If not, look them up. Oh yeah, and you will make my point.
The media is a powerful thing in our society. They bring us information, entertainment, and also identify what is important to our world. The more outlets like ESPN use finite airtime on essentially promoting the life of thugs like Hernandez, maybe our collective sense of what actions should be rewarded with attention will be changed for the better.