Sports reporting should be less individualistic

Feb. 20, 2014

Commentary by Lucas Wimmer

I was watching some coverage before the BCS National Championship in January, and I noticed something disturbing. Across the bottom of the screen scrolled the sentence, “With a win, Jameis Winston would be the first starting freshman quarterback to win the BCS National Championship.”

This was upsetting to me because until then I had failed to realize somewhere along the line, the focus had shifted away from the team and had been put on individual athletes.

It would have been just as easy to say “With a win, Florida State will become the first team to win the BCS National Championship with a freshman quarterback,” but instead, individual accolades are lauded over the accomplishments of a team, and sports fans eat it up.

We as sports fans ostracize perceived “divas” in the media, like the massive backlash Terrell Owens used to get, or more recently, the huge opposition to LeBron James and his extravagant decision special, but is coverage like this actually creating these personalities? Is it our fault these people put themselves above their team?

Coverage like the BCS National Championship coverage could give young athletes around America the wrong idea. When young athletes see something like that, their immediate reaction is to glorify one single athlete over the accomplishments of the whole team.

Even in the Super Bowl XLVII, during the coverage leading up to the game, almost every segment dealt with Peyton Manning vs. Richard Sherman. It was almost as if they were just playing head-to-head, and the rest of the team would stay on the sideline.

As anyone who watched the game saw, that matchup was barely the most relevant. The game was more about Denver not being able to stop Seattle’s offense, and Denver’s offensive line struggling against Seattle’s front seven.

In fact, the MVP of the Super Bowl XLVII was Malcom Smith, a relatively unknown linebacker who recorded nine tackles, a fumble recovery and an interception returned for a touchdown. The narrative after the game, however, mainly revolved around Peyton Manning and his poor performance.

If young athletes saw this, what is to stop them from just believing that performing the best will not actually get them the most attention?
Another narrative was Peyton Manning’s Super Bowl record, and his wins and losses in the playoffs. A big deal was made that Manning was 1-2 in the Super Bowl. As one of 22 starters, however, Manning did not win and lose these games by himself, so I am not sure how that is supposed to affect his legacy.

With sports rules and strategies changing, I think it is time to go back to the basics in this regard, and start giving credit where credit is mainly due: on a team level.