I only met Bruce Feldman once. He was kind, professional, and offered me some personal advice that I carry very closely today.
Most of you are aware that ESPN suspended Feldman yesterday barring him from writing “…for any ESPN entity, is forbidden from appearing on any ESPN platform, is not allowed to Tweet from his Twitter account nor participate in any promotion of a recently-released book in which Feldman played a role.”
The book in question is “Swing your Sword” a biography of Mike Leach which Feldman collaborated on (with permission from ESPN). Feldman had agreed to help with book prior to Leach’s bitter departure from Texas Tech, but told colleagues that he wouldn’t proceed unless he had permission from his employer, ESPN; which he did receive.
Since the book has been released (Monday), Feldman has made no mention of it, or his involvement with it in any medium, including his Twitter feed.
Those who know me know there is no love lost between the “worldwide leader” and myself. I think their pseudo monopoly on most sports coverage is bad for sports, I think their policy of muzzling their personalities (Jemele Hill was suspended for a week for talking about Hitler, Dana Jacobsen got a week for bad-mouthing Jesus –while being drunk at a celebrity roast, and Tony Kornheiser was suspended for two weeks for talking negatively about Hannah Storm’s wardrobe) is bad for sports, and I think their too often slanted narratives (ESPN ran a Heisman campaign for Tim Tebow, whether you feel he deserved it or not) are bad for sports. I think that an Emmy type award show (ESPY’s) is a fucking embarrassment for sports.
I’ll leave the first amendment implications aside, as I believe that while tangible, they are fringe to this discussion and simply ask why is the most popular sports network in the world afraid of one of their reporters’ involvement in a coaches biography? One they gave explicit permission for that reporter to work on.
This sets a terrible precedent, and it says that ESPN would rather have their personalities not speak ill of each other, than do quality in depth reporting and writing on sports. No wonder Yahoo! Sports’ Charles Robinson is scooping them left and right.
Put Feldman back, ESPN… You’re becoming to sports, what MTV has now become to music. Irrelevant.