Archive for Saturday, February 20, 2010

Sports, show business overshadow more important issues

February 20, 2010


Friday morning, the nation’s three major networks and three wire services, along with niche television networks and radio stations, all carried live reports of the Tiger Woods press statement.

Other programming and news reports were halted to report the very special Woods “press conference” for which he selected the individuals he wanted in the audience.

A large percentage of Americans know the world’s greatest golfer has acknowledged having extramarital affairs with a number of women. He is married and has two children, and until the revelation about his sexual appetite became known, he had been held up as an idol because of his personal conduct and behavior.

Once news of his indiscretions became known, Woods announced he was postponing a return to the golf tour. Shortly thereafter, it was announced he had entered a therapy program. Since then, there has been a parade of women announcing they too had affairs with Woods.

Now comes the Friday press conference and the massive news coverage the event triggered.

What does all this say about the public’s almost insatiable appetite for sports? Granted, the Woods story has the extra zing of sexual misbehavior, but sports alone seem to be attracting more and more of the public’s attention.

There is great concern here in Lawrence about how the public schools can meet current budget restraints, what schools may be closed or how many teachers may lose their jobs. The one action that really triggers strong public reaction is the suggestion to eliminate various competitive sports programs at the junior high and high school level.

News about the Winter Olympics is on the front page, not just on the sports pages. Whether it is how American skier Lindsey Vonn does in her downhill runs, U.S. ice skater Evan Lysacek’s quest for a gold medal, the death of relatively unknown Georgian Nodar Kumaritashvili in a tragic luge accident or almost any other athletic competitor, it is big news.

The salaries of college coaches, news about what colleges high school all-stars will attend, pressure tactics used by athletic departments to force fans to pay extra dollars to qualify for better seats, the academic performance of college players to stay eligible, etc., all represent just a small slice of the attention given to sports.

Why shouldn’t a goal of making Kansas University one of the nation’s outstanding academic institutions stir as much interest and support as does trying to be one of the nation’s top football or basketball teams?

If it isn’t sports, then it’s the entertainment industry that seems to interest and titillate the public. Currently, Lady Gaga seems to capture the most attention, but the number and variety of magazines stacked near grocery store check-out counters offer ample evidence of the interest in knowing the inside information about those in show business.

There’s nothing wrong with this obsession with sports and show business, but it does raise the question of why there isn’t equal or even more interest in what is going on elsewhere in today’s world.

Granted, the horrible earthquake in Haiti captured attention and even held the public interest for many days, but this is an exception. What is going on in Washington, Topeka and Lawrence doesn’t come close to the excitement, attention, passion and reaction of a sports event like the Super Bowl, Olympics, NCAA playoffs, etc.

Have those who can’t get enough news about sports and show business tuned out of situations involving government actions in Washington or at the state and local levels? Do they give much attention to what may be happening to the free enterprise situation in America, the environment, greater government control of our lives and actions or the misbehavior of so many in public office?

Do they really not care or do they think they really don’t have a chance to make a difference? Do they think their voices and concerns don’t matter and they would rather spend their time and, in many cases, their money engaged in sports activities, either as an observer or as a participant?

It’s more fun and enjoyable to turn on the tube and watch a sports event or be a team member on a local sports team than to attend a school board meeting or a city or county commission session.

Will the level of interest in sports continue to grow, or will there come a time when the public finally says enough is enough? The salaries paid to players and coaches, the massive millions of dollars spent on tickets to sporting events, the coverage and position sports has in newspapers, television and radio and the billions of dollars spent on betting on sports events and other evidences of the interest in sports keep growing and growing.

Competitive sports offer many pluses, but are sports getting out of hand compared to the extremely serious, critical issues facing this country and its citizens?

Are sports serving as an ideal and easy way for growing numbers of citizens to close their eyes to the really important matters facing them in everyday life?


KU_cynic 8 years, 2 months ago

Okay, Mr. Simons, I'm with you.

I look forward to the the newly formatted Lawrence Journal-World, with an expanded staff of talented reporters who critically probe into important stories of state and local interest -- like USD 497 budgeting, like sweetheart deals cut between the City Commission and local developers -- and not hack reporters who just serve as parroting scribes for local interest groups.

And I look forward to a downsized sports page, without 365-day-per-year coverage of KU men's basketball, without, just for example, sports editor Tom Keegan wasting 18 column inches on Tiger Woods's staged and self-indulgent press conference.

I just can't wait to read and be a proud subscriber to this new LJW.

Just one question: When is it coming?

seriouscat 8 years, 2 months ago

yeah, when is it coming Mr. Simons? Shall we check your tweet feed?

Bob_Keeshan 8 years, 2 months ago

I look forward to the single story on today's KU basketball game in tomorrow's paper.

It should probably be about 6 paragraphs and be placed somewhere amongst the classified ads.

Seriously, does this reporter think he is writing for the New York Sun circa 1878? Sporting events have played a dominant role in culture not just in America but across most societies since the late 19th century.

As usual, a man who benefits more from the local university and that university's sports teams than perhaps anyone else in Lawrence is taking the time to bite the hand that feeds him. What a mangy mutt.

das 8 years, 2 months ago

This is an Age of panem et circenses....this modern Roman Empire shall fall as well (aren't we?). Handouts and entertainment take precedence over civic duty, societal concerns, and the pursuit of education.

Look up the etymology of the terms "idiot" vs. "citizen".

I basically agree with the premise of the editorial, but also would like to see some of this commentary put into practice as well. It can't be argued that the media directly fuels this feeding frenzy.

nobody1793 8 years, 2 months ago

I dub thee "Apathy-gate". Because it is not news without a catchy title.

lawrencian 8 years, 2 months ago

Are you kidding me? There are days when the LJW is nothing but sports, sports, sports. Abolish the sports section, move the scores to page 5, and maybe I'll take you seriously.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 8 years, 2 months ago

Who gives a rat's ass about Tiger Woods?

Does Tiger Woods control gasoline prices??

Does Tiger Woods recommend your work evaluations and raises??

Does Tiger Woods facilitate your tax return??

Does Tiger Woods lower your food prices??

Does Tiger Woods provide you with health insurance??

Does Tiger Woods control your cablevision bill??

Does Tiger Woods drive your school bus??

Does Tiger Woods advocate for cancer research??

Does Tiger Woods make the popcorn at the movie theatre?

Does Tiger Woods do ANYTHING that affects your life, directly or indirectly??

IOf not, then why do you give one whit about Tiger Woods, his private life, or his ability to knock a little white ball into a little hole inthe ground??

Why does ANYONE give a rat's ass about Tiger Woods????

Fred Whitehead Jr. 8 years, 2 months ago

P.S..........Hey DOlph, look at the printed orgy on the top of this website about the little game played today where college age men in their overmade underwear toss a round ball through a metal hoop and get oceans of commentary and "news" about their ability to do this better that another group of young college age men from out of town? You think you are a little, well, a lot out of line in your criticism of this stupid golf "hero"?????

kansasplains 8 years, 2 months ago

I profoundly agree with Mr. Simons, which, for me, is highly unusual (I'm often on the other side of the issue). And despite what some of the above writers are saying (which is to make fun of the Journal-World), let them move to other towns throughout Kansas and elsewhere, and see for themselves what is reported in those towns. The Journal-World has taken important steps - see, for example, the results of local blogs and local participation of citizen journalists. How many papers have this kind of results? As for sports, it is important to many, not only in Lawrence but former Lawrence residents (I live in San Francisco but come back often). Mr Simons, you are right on, on this one. But there should be many issues which receive weekly coverage and are devoted to issues such as this, for an expanding and exciting dialogue. Lawrence Morgan

puddleglum 8 years, 2 months ago

hey, as long as I have my wal-mart and cheap chinese products, who really cares about education anyways?

beatrice 8 years, 2 months ago

Nothing like an editor complaining about the over abundance of Tiger Woods coverage ... by producing a lengthy column about Tiger Woods.

Know the best way to let us know the editor of the LJWorld doesn't care for the Tiger Woods coverage? Don't run anything about it.

Nothing. Zilch, Nota.

That would be the best thing to do. Besides, if you did this you could then write your usual stories on the really important issues, like gay marriage, Obama's birth certificate, and anything said about Socialism by Sarah Palin.

parrothead8 8 years, 2 months ago

Gosh, yeah, there really should be more emphasis on war, earthquakes, a bad economy, job losses, school closings, crime...jeez, now I'm starting to feel a little depressed.

Maybe the emphasis on sports has something to do with sports being fun?

dontcallmedan 8 years, 2 months ago

And don't forget to upgrade you ESPN package on Sunflower.

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