Desperate for answers following Oklahoma's devastating loss to the University of Texas on Saturday, fans turned to the local media at Monday's press conference with Bob Stoops. Instead of answers, they received a media that was unwilling to fully address the concerns of the fan base. The questions were mostly generic, the answers seemingly scripted. The few questions that did attempt to extract some meaningful information, were met with coach speak or simply brushed aside. Past history has told us that if Bob Stoops doesn't like the direction of a question, the questioner will pay the price and ultimately capitulate.
It is understandable that Coach Stoops would want to exhibit some control over the press conferences. Left unchecked, they could easily turn into a feeding frenzy. What the media has allowed him to do though, is go to the extreme and exert his will to the point of tyranny. This one-sided relationship allows him to control the message to some degree, but it comes at the expense of alienating himself from a loyal fan base that love and support their program. This is a price he's shown time and again that he's willing to pay, and the media is complicit.
Obviously, this isn’t a problem exclusive to just our area. It seems our present day media all over the country have glorified and magnified our sports figures to the point we can no longer hold them accountable. With the exception of the most egregious accounts, their actions, decisions and deeds are above reproach. Increasingly, we are seeing more dysfunction between coaches and media than ever before. The shock value from these exchanges has become minimal. At some point, our media ceded what little control that existed in the relationship with Bob Stoops from his early years, and now must seek dispensation in hopes of a newsworthy nugget in which to build a story.
Some of us remember a time when sports journalists, reporters and broadcasters were the most respected media on the planet. They were true artists, wordsmiths and a credit to their profession. They could preface a question as such that it left the respondent with little choice but to at least be somewhat forthcoming with a response. They walked a fine line with the interviewee, but we're always journalists first, friends second. They did this by establishing consistent, professional borders that dictated the scope and purpose of their relationships. They respected their trade and were committed to their audience. Their writings and broadcasts could at times be as riveting as the sports themselves. Their words, a work of art that would stay with you as long as your fondest memories.
Somewhere along the way though, our fathers and grandfathers media ceased to exist. Perhaps we were all busy watching ESPN when the art of sports reporting and the journalists who brought it all to life, just faded away. In their place are ex-players, ex-coaches, legacies, wanna-be comedians, wanna-be politicians, women with large breast, star struck fans and pseudo-intellectual hacks. Most seem to want to be friends first, journalists second. Rather than be committed to their audience and their craft like those that came before them, they're content to seek favor in place of true journalism. Their actions indicate a lack of respect for their trade and their audience as well.
Given the current state of sports journalism, it comes as no surprise that SB Nation and sports blogs everywhere are absorbing the demographic and destroying the foundations of the business models of traditional sports media. Sites like CCM have enjoyed tremendous growth by committing to the fan, while "mainstream" media outlets are spending their time serving the wrong master.