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The message matters more than the messenger

April 13, 2006|by DAN KAUFFMAN

Is it even possible to have an original sports opinion these days?

I'm not so sure.

There's dozens of TV shows out there, including these ESPN staples:

Cold Pizza (specifically the First-and-10 segment with Skip Bayless and Woody Paige) ...

Around the Horn (Tony Reali and a cast of characters including Paige, Jay Mariotti, Kevin Blackistone, Tim Cowlishaw, Bill Plaschke and Michael Smith) ...

Pardon the Interruption (Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon) ...

Quite Frankly (Stephen A. Smith).

There's ESPN.com's popular Page 2, featuring columns by "The Sports Guy" Bill Simmons, Scoop Jackson, Eric Neel and Jason Whitlock, among others. Also, CNNSI.com, CBSSportsline.com and numerous other dot.coms I don't read.

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Then there's sports talk radio. Around here, you can catch both The Jungle (Jim Rome's show, which is much better than his ESPN show "Rome is Burning") and The Dan Patrick Show on WEPM 1340 weekday afternoons.

All this airtime has led to a severe case of opinion overload.

Isn't the media supposed to give viewers, listeners or readers the information in an unbiased, objective way so that they can form their own opinions?

What happened to that idea? Everything's so prepackaged these days. "Here's the information, and here's what YOU should THINK about it!"

Um, thanks, but I can think for myself. No, really, I can. I have a brain. I know, surprised me, too ...

I get that the opinions of columnists, radio jocks and TV personalities are as much for entertainment as enlightenment. I enjoy hearing contrasting views from people. I just don't like having them rammed down my ear canal at 100 decibels.

And I really don't like those who take one side of an issue just to generate a reaction, which seems to be a growing trend these days.

Some of the opinions being thrown around are so off the wall and totally illogical, that the person stating the opinion must be doing so for no other reason than to see how much hate mail he/she can generate.

I guess my issue comes down to this: Sports opinions these days are often more about the individual expressing them, and less about the actual opinion expressed.

Shouldn't that be the other way around?

Here's an example, using one of the few opinions I have that I haven't seen expressed by many others: I believe Pete Rose and Shoeless Joe Jackson should both be in the Hall of Fame, because ultimately, the Hall of Fame is baseball's history museum, a place for fans of the game to go learn about its past.

Rose and Jackson were both great players who made mistakes. Put them both in the Hall for their accomplishments on the field, and on their plaques, clearly state the wrongs they did, so that visitors can learn about the history of the game, which is why the Hall is there in the first place.

Now, suppose Bayless were to state this same opinion. Would the emphasis be on the opinion itself? Or would it be on the fact that Bayless was the one who came up with it?

Exactly.

And that's the problem.




Dan Kauffman is a staff writer for The Morning Herald. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 7520, or by e-mail at kauffman@herald-mail.com

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