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The NFL's Flagrant Hold on ESPN

On Friday, the New York Times released a damning piece that revealed just how much of a grip the NFL has over ESPN, concerning the network’s participating in a documentary about players suffering from football related head injuries. The story has garnered a lot of attention within the sports media community, calling into question the journalistic integrity of ESPN as a result.

On a semi related note, you may recall an ESPN television show 10 years ago called “Playmakers,” which depicted a fiction pro football team overcoming day-to-day hurdles in a fiction pro football league. The NFL didn’t appreciate having such “hurdles” spotlighted — even if the show was fiction — and pressured ESPN into dropping the series.

On Saturday, the Times released another football related piece about ESPN, concerning the network’s influence in the creation of specific games, of which would also air on the ESPN networks. While not as damning as their now lack of involvement in investigating head injuries, this piece is still revealing, at least at the big picture level, as it concerns the relationship between media partnership.

The two type of above circumstances are not exclusive to ESPN or sports media. Concerning our news and political media, I’d argue that any agendas, whether it be the New York Times, NBC News or Fox News, are more often business/financially driven as opposed to being politically driven. Political talk radio should be the most obvious example (unfortunately, that is often missed by the hardcore fans of a Rush Limbaugh or a Glenn Beck).

Ball game or not, at the end of the day, news reporting is all business.

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