Criticism of Sharpe cuts to core of media's double-edged sword


August 24, 1999|By Milton Kent

From more than 2,000 miles away, Denver Broncos tight end Shannon Sharpe's decision to refrain from talking to the media hardly seems like something to get worked up over.

And more than one media wag believes that Sharpe, who is as drawn to the cameras and notebooks as a moth is to a flame, won't be able to keep his promise for long. Former Sun columnist Mike Littwin has the date of Sept. 3 in his office pool for when Sharpe will talk again.

Whether Sharpe ever faces the media again or not, the situation serves as a reminder of the occasional hypocrisy of the media.

In case you missed it, Sharpe, while in Australia with his Denver teammates a few weeks ago for a preseason game against San Diego, ran off at the mouth about the relative rudeness of his Aussie hosts, thus drawing the label of the proverbial ugly American.

Now, it's entirely possible that Sharpe, who has attained the reputation as one of the NFL's top trash talkers, could have been speaking out of turn about Australian hospitality, and sometimes, it's not a bad idea to eat Grandma's rhubarb pie and smile, even if it tastes awful.

But no one who is not named Shannon Sharpe can know what he experienced and what he felt and it does seem a bit disingenuous that Sharpe is getting criticized by some members of the media for speaking his mind, since that's what he always does, to the delight of NFL reporters around the league.

Spend some time in any professional or big-time collegiate locker room and you'll notice that, regardless of the sport, writers and broadcasters will gravitate to players who have interesting things to say, out of necessity. That's because a recitation of a game's events always reads or sounds more interesting if an athlete or coach gives a good quote.

But if you're an athlete and you see the hits that Sharpe and former Maryland guard Steve Francis -- who expressed disappointment a few weeks ago when he was taken second in the NBA draft and by Vancouver -- have taken for being honest and the lesson you can't help but get is clear.

That is, that the media like honesty, but not necessarily total candor.

They got game

The WNBA playoffs begin tonight with an ESPN doubleheader of single-elimination games at 7, commencing with Detroit playing host to Charlotte, followed by the Sacramento-Los Angeles game.

By the way, now that former production assistant Glenn "Sparky" Jacobs, who was "humiliated" in a "SportsCenter" commercial, is a bigwig at the ESPN Zones, we can't blame him for the fact that someone in charge of feeding information into the "SportsCenter" newsroom computer Saturday night didn't seem to know which teams were in the playoffs or how many games were in the series.

So, who's responsible?

Costas for hire

If you check out tomorrow night's Detroit-Seattle game, the back end of ESPN's Wednesday baseball doubleheader, and hear the dulcet tones of Bob Costas, don't freak.

In preparation for his World Series assignment, Costas, who hasn't called a baseball game since October, joins Joe Morgan for tomorrow's game. The pair, who will work together for NBC for the Fall Classic, will join up again Sept. 21 for a game whose participants are yet to be determined.

The Sept. 21 game, by the way, is one of two contests that ESPN has added to its major-league baseball schedule; the other coming next Tuesday. In addition, ESPN and ESPN2 announced that both outlets will carry doubleheaders for the final three Wednesdays of the season.

Now, the cynical among us might suppose that ESPN is doing all this additional coverage to make nice with baseball over that Sunday night flap that has been going on, but that would just be the meanness in you taking over. Embrace the love.

Pub Date: 8/24/99

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