I got the idea of this post after I read Dan Steinburg's Washington Post's D.C. Sports Bog and what Nationals team president Stan Kasten and reporter said about the A-Rod coverage.
Stan Kasten suggested to Barry Svrluga and I this week that a line has been irrevocably crossed, and that if other newspapers follow suit, the relationship between the media and MLB teams will never be the same.
Although I have taken my shots at A-Rod in the past few days over his alleged indiscretions and over his photos of the blonde he was with, Bill Madden of the NY Daily News made this statement that seared in my mind in his piece, “Wake up, Alex, Everyone is Watching You”:
But now, in this dumbing-down, reality TV society we live in, where even the nightly cable "news" programs take on the appearance of the National Enquirer, more consumed with a drunken Lindsay Lohan or Joey and Amy's latest romantic rendezvous, ballplayers better understand their sex lives and off-the-field conduct may hold far more import with the general public than their batting or earned run averages.
Reading the article again, the statement even rings more true.
There is a reason why people care and have put so much emotional involvement and thought into Alex Rodriguez’s off the field life.
Well, A-Rod plays on the Yankees, he’s make $25 million per year, and he had an image of a guy who cares too much of how he is perceived in the media, and how fans look at him from home and on the field; it is.
However, we have put athletes in society on a pedestal (whether they should be up there is subject to debate), but professional athletes make far more than the average American, and their faces are plastered on ads, SportsCenter, games, and magazines; therefore, we feel that we have an intimacy with them.
Furthermore, because of the differences in lifestyles between the average person and athletes (the gap is always growing), we are interested in them and how they spend lives off it.
To be quite honest, athletes are as much entertainers, as actors or actresses. We stand, cheer, boo and gossip about these guys – do we don’t do the same with those in Hollywood? People have emotional investments in their team and spend their hard earned money watching their favorite men and women on the field.
We’ll go to the ends of the earth and some people will do silly things for an autograph. Hell, some of us will spend hundreds, thousands of dollars and countless hours of our time to get a John Hancock or even face time with an athlete.
We have seen some of their homes on MTV Cribs’, SportsCenter and ‘This Week in Baseball”. Heck, there was a show on ESPN that looked at the world of athletes and the larger entertainment industry called “ESPN Hollywood”.
So, it is little wonder why the world would be interested in Alex Rodriguez’s life off the field, and why when he does something, especially under the nose of his wife, we’d care?
In the age of the internet, blogs, camera cell phones and Blackberries, information travels faster than ever, thus the agencies and media trip over one another to be the first with a news story.
Some of most popular blogs like Deadspin, With Leather, Kissing Suzy Kolber, Drunk Athlete and others, don’t strictly look at the games on the field; therefore, what makes them so popular is that they look off the field for their next big story to drive up their site traffic.
I more or less do the same, though I go about it much more differently, and this blog’s traffic is a drop in the bucket compared to theirs.
It’s not an accident.
In the end, it’s all a business and getting notice. Athletes play for money and rake off endorsements, the media needs to get eyes on their products, and advertisers to keep them afloat.
Why would the line not be blurred? We hype, celebrate, deify, honor our athletes, and they get paid an inordinate amount of money to play a game. Sorry, we treat athletes special our society, and we spend a lot of money and time doing so.
In a world where we praise Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton, why would some multi-million dollar athlete who from the looks of it cheated on his wife be treated differently?
Bill Madden is right, the very society we live in is the cause of it Alex Rodriguez coverage.
Athletes, you have been warned – be very careful what do you off the field.