The media world has progressed to a point today where boundaries have become blurred or nonexistent. We now have the capabilities to acquire information and deliver it to consumers at a moment’s notice. That capability has also created the 24 hour news cycle and a constant demand for new content and new conversations to have. This has possibly led to a recent rise in controversial stories concerning the private lives of athletes.
A story written in January by Karen Crouse of The New York Times detailed a “broken” relationship between Green Bay Packers star quarterback Aaron Rodgers and his immediate family. This story seemed to break an invisible barrier for some people, and it sparked a lot of debate.
My problem with this story is that this particular narrative was started originally during The Bachelorette, a popular reality show. This is a show that creates story lines usually based on what will get the most attention and viewers. The story started when Aaron Rodger’s brother was a contestant and the main story line on the show was how Aaron had a strained relationship with the rest of his immediate family. A reality dating show was the basis for a huge mainstream sports media story.
I believe that there should be a line when it comes to athletes and their private lives. I do understand the concept of being a public figure, but there should still be some area left alone by the press. Those athletes such as Aaron Rodgers who keep their lives intentionally private deserve to keep it that way. The athletes that put their private lives in the public, like those who are very active on social media, do not deserve privacy when something that they put out there becomes news.
There was also a similar story that profiled Jack Johnson of the Columbus Blue Jackets. The story was recently written on the Columbus Dispatch and it discussed how Johnson had gone bankrupt due to his family spending his money and putting him millions of dollars into bankruptcy. What news value does this have for readers?
I do not understand why there is an interest in the family lives of public athletes. I do know that there is obviously a demand for a story like that. That much has been shown through the reaction to the Aaron Rodgers and Jack Johnson stories. I am not sure why people enjoy reading these stories. I realize that Aaron Rodgers being a star is enough to get the traction at least, but to me it did not feel right when I first read it.
Along with professional athletes and their privacy, another point I would like to touch on is collegiate athletes and their privacy. I believe that collegiate athletes deserve even more privacy than professional athletes and that maybe they should not even be classified as public figures. Arrests and wrongdoing are fair game for media covering athletes at either level. I believe this because normal people also often have their wrongdoing publicized locally.
Collegiate athletes deserve privacy due to the fact that they are usually of a young age and they are not paid for their services or popularity. I have never felt right reading news that intrudes into their personal lives or even criticizes their play on the field.
During late December, a star basketball player from Duke University tripped a player on the court and proceeded to throw a tantrum after being disciplined. The national media jumped all over it, and the next day five adult sports analysts on Fox Sports One were having a panel discussion on whether Allen has a mental illness or not. This is not what I look for as a consumer of sports media, and this is not how a college athlete, or any athlete should be covered.