Merging World and Sport Headlines: Sport Media Coverage of Ebola

By Savannah Malnar

Sports are so integrated into our society that when there is a significant world event, it is inevitable that said event will slip into ESPN or other sport headlines. The Ebola epidemic is no exception.

It was only a matter of time until this major headline seeped into sports. When going to ESPN’s home page, right above the major headline ticker is a small tab that says “Ebola Concerns in the NFL.” This should be no surprise, with the primary cases of the disease in America being centered in Dallas, home of the Dallas Cowboys.

The Giants are scheduled to play in Dallas this Sunday, October 19th. Local news sites in both Dallas and New York are littered with headlines all telling the same story: The Giants were briefed by their medical staff about the disease and on ways to be cautious while there.

The fact is, all NFL teams have this information available to them through the league and their infectious disease partner, Duke Infection Control Outreach Network.  Despite this, it was reported by Dan Graziano of ESPN that the Cowboys themselves have barely talked about it as a team. Jason Garrett, coach of the Cowboys, was asked if addressed his team regarding the disease. He responded: “Really haven’t, to be honest with you. I don’t think it has directly affected us. So it hasn’t been something we have addressed directly with our players.”

The world media has certainly been all over the Ebola epidemic. The sport media may be soon as well. Already it seems every sport media source, local and national, has published an article regarding the Giants’ briefing on the disease.

While it is still very early to be extremely concerned, the sport media needs to be careful to present the information fairly and not over exaggerate. All the articles regarding the Giants were fair in saying the players were not concerned about going into the region where the disease was (though they may not bring children and wives along to this game, as a precaution), with Eli Manning saying, “I’m not worried about myself or the team. With what we’re doing and where we’re staying, I think we’ll be fine.”

Ebola is a fair concern in sports where traveling is a necessity, but the sport media should consider to err on the conservative side of reporting on it until it is clear whether players in any sport are in any real danger of contracting it through travel.