Does ESPN Take its Witch Hunts Too Far

Rutgers University

If you’re a fan of sports there’s a great chance you’ve watched an episode of Sportscenter at one point in your life.  This week the main focus of the show has been centered on the unfortunate events that took place months ago at Rutgers University.  It’s safe to say that their men’s basketball team had some internal issues, which ESPN has made poignantly clear with their non-stop coverage of the Mike Rice debacle.

Rice liked to get a little too close to his players, and at times he showed the type of love you’d see in a prison yard.  Were his actions deplorable?  Yes.  Did his initial punishment fit the crime?  I guess that’s up to each one of us to decide on our own.  For a country that believes in second chances, I find the feverish Rutgers coverage by ESPN to be bordering on the line of a witch hunt.  Wasn’t it only a few years ago when this same organization told us to forgive a convicted felon who murdered dogs, and that we should allow him a chance to redeem himself in the eyes of the public?

Due to the ESPN report this week, which is based on video evidence of Rice getting a little rough with his team, they’ve successfully been able to oust three Rutgers employees, and it may not stop there.  The talking heads at ESPN are still not satisfied with the careers they’ve trashed.  Today they’re clamoring for the President of Rutgers University to be fired in addition to the three other men who are now unemployed.

By the way, no one at the Sportscenter desk is bringing up the fact that everyone supposedly deserves a second chance in life like they’ve done in the past for famous athletes.  In fact, through their non-stop rhetoric on the matter, I don’t think any of these fired individuals will be able to have successful careers in the future.  ESPN has heaped so many piles of shit upon their names that they’ll never be able to dig out and do what they love again.

I get why journalists latch onto hot stories like this.  They’ll do anything for attention and the spotlight (me included), and that’s exactly what has gone down with this whole Rutgers mess.  What Mike Rice did is terrible, but he and his employer came to an agreement and a punishment on their own, which was acceptable to them at the time.  No one outside of Rutgers would have ever known about Rice’s anger issues, because ESPN didn’t even discuss it until a disgruntled former Rutgers basketball assistance leaked the tape of Rice’s actions to them.  If ESPN is so concerned about ethics and accountability in sports, why didn’t they call for the firing of Rice and company back when Rutgers first penalized their coach?

Rice took his passion for the perfect pick and roll too far


This isn’t the first time ESPN has been instrumental in tarnishing people’s careers.  A few months ago a local and very popular sports talk radio host in my market lost his job over a stupid tweet about Desmond Howard.  At first he was only suspended, but after Kirk Herbstreit took the airwaves on the ESPN owned channel, he was summarily let go from his post.  He was blackballed in the market and deprived of the power to provide for his family.  The station didn’t want to fire him because he and his partner had the #1 show in the state, but the pressure from ESPN was too great and they caved to their demands.

I’m not here to defend the stupid actions of these individuals, because they all did screw up.  I just don’t agree with the way these types of events are handled by members of the media, who at this point in time have extreme amounts of power to sway public opinion.  If Rutgers agreed that the initial punishment of their basketball coach was sufficient to allow him another chance to redeem himself, then we should all trust that decision whether we think it’s right or not.  We can’t sit around and claim that we’re a country who believes in second chances when we have news organizations that dedicate 24 hour coverage, which is full of rhetoric intended to get people removed from their jobs.  What Rutgers did is wrong, but no one broke the law.

If ESPN can ask us to forgive an athlete who was convicted of a serious crime, why can’t they show a little forgiveness for a man who had a bad temper and let it get the best of himself.  They’ve successfully ruined the careers of at least two individuals, and they’re still trying to take down the Rutgers president.  Sure you could make an argument that these men ruined their own lives with their actions, but I honestly believe that a majority of the public wouldn’t have even thought twice about this story if it weren’t for the non-stop venomous coverage by ESPN.  Call me any name you want, but I firmly believe ESPN exploits stories like this for their own good, and not for the good of man like they claim.  Please feel free to tear into my stance by leaving a few comments down below.  You’ve been thinking I’m an asshole…



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Tags : ESPN
Matt Heywood

The author Matt Heywood

Matt Heywood is the founder and EIC of where he strives to make you a better geek, one post at a time! When he’s not scouring the Internet for interesting nuggets of awesomeness he can be found in his secret lair enjoying the latest and greatest video games, taking pictures of toys, or talking Star Wars on EB’s Star Wars Time podcast show.