Category Archives: TV Shows

Reflections on Laremy Tunsil’s Historic Draft Slide

by Brendan Ripley-Barasch

The 2016 NFL Draft was held this past Thursday night in Chicago and there were some surprises to say the least. A couple of things that may have shocked some fans included linebacker Myles Jack falling out of the first-round, CB Eli Apple being drafted at No. 10 by the New York Giants, and the mind-boggling amount of former Ohio State Buckeyes taken in the first-round. But one thing that took everyone by surprise was how far offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil fell.

                                                                                    Image via http://www.clarionledger.com

A dramatic series of events led to Tunsil falling all the way to the Miami Dolphins at No. 13. This player, who was once seen as the number one overall prospect in the draft, saw his downfall begin moments before the draft. Exactly thirteen minutes before the start of the draft, a video was posted to Laremy’s verified Twitter account that showed the former Ole Miss Rebel smoking what is assumed to be weed from a gas-mask bong. After a couple of minutes the video was taken down and the account was then deactivated. The video may have only been up for a few minutes but the damage was done and once again the power of social media was demonstrated.

Even after Tunsil had been selected by the Dolphins the mayhem continued. After the pick, an image was uploaded to Laremy’s Instagram account that showed text messages supposedly between Ole Miss Assistant Athletic Director John Miller and Tunsil. The conversation consisted of Tunsil seeking money from Miller to pay his mother’s rent and electric bills. Last season at Ole Miss, Laremy served a seven-game suspension stemming from similar accusations where he was found guilty of accepting improper benefits.

When it was all over, Laremy was still drafted in the top twenty but his fall cost him millions of dollars. In an article from ESPN titled Video kept Ravens from drafting Laremy Tunsil with No. 6 overall pick, writer Jamison Hensley discusses how the video impacted the Baltimore Ravens evaluation of Tunsil. The author writes, “The Baltimore Ravens would have taken Ole Miss offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil with the No. 6 overall pick were it not for the gas mask video that surfaced.” Even though he only talks about one team, it is probably fair to say the twelve other teams that passed on the prospect were thinking similarly. In the same article, Hensley writes something that ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported, “According to Schefter, Tunsil lost $7 million by falling seven spots in the draft.” Not only did this social media blunder tarnish the player’s image, but it also caused him to lose a lot of money.

It was very hard to watch this young man’s life just unravel right in front of us on one of the biggest stages in professional sports. But this is just the latest case of athletes suffering at the hands of social media. Recently it has been reported that the Dolphins believe Tunsil’s former financial adviser is who hacked into these accounts and posted the image and video. During the draft, ESPN analyst Jon Gruden gave his opinion on the issue, “We live in a glass house these days. … There’s a lot of money and people’s futures at stake. I hope this doesn’t come back to haunt Tunsil. Hopefully it’s a learning experience for him. He’s gotta clean this up if he wants to play in this league.” With this statement, Gruden echoes mine and surely many others opinions.

Following the draft, Laremy Tunsil admitted to the media that he had in fact taken money from an Ole Miss coach and that the screenshots were real. It is unclear whether the NCAA had already been aware of these actions since they had already suspended the player last season for the same reason. Now that Tunsil had admitted such a thing to an audience of millions, the NCAA will surely continue their investigation with the university.

This event is one of the most publicized examples of an athlete being punished for things that had been posted to their social media accounts. Obviously it is unfortunate for Tunsil to fall all the way to No. 13, but he is saying all the right things starting with accepting full responsibility for his actions. The player has a bright future ahead of him in the NFL but this will follow him for many years to come. It cannot be emphasized enough how big of a role social media plays in forming a person’s image and it is crucial for athletes as well as regular people to realize how to properly use these platforms. It is my hope that other athletes learn from this and don’t make the same mistake Tunsil did.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who’s in the Wrong? Curt Schilling or ESPN?

by Brendan Ripley-Barasch

Curt Schilling has been in the news lately for all the wrong reasons. The former Major League Baseball pitcher has served as a baseball analyst for ESPN since 2010, but this past Wednesday was fired from the network because of the “transphobic” comments that he posted on Facebook.

                                                                            Image via awfulannouncing.com

To give a little background, Schilling first entered the public eye in 1988 when he debuted for the Baltimore Orioles as a right-handed pitcher. The former second round pick then went on to play for the Astros, Phillies, Diamondbacks, and Red Sox over the course of 19 seasons. During his career, Schilling won three World Series titles (including being named co-World Series MVP in 2001) and was a six-time All-Star. Arguably the most memorable part of his MLB tenure came in game 6 of the 2004 ALCS when he was on the Red Sox and pitched while having a torn tendon in his ankle causing blood to become visible through his sock, this game is now known as “the bloody sock game.”

Sadly these are all just memories and now the former MLB star is seen as transphobic by many. As stated earlier, Schilling was let go by ESPN because of a post he shared on Facebook, it was a picture of a man dressed as woman  and read, “Let him in! To the restroom with your daughter or else you’re a narrow minded, judgmental, unloving, racist bigot who needs to die!!!” He also added a comment that said, “A man is a man no matter what they call themselves. I don’t care what they are, who they sleep with, men’s room was designed for the penis, women’s not so much. Now you need laws telling us differently? Pathetic.” This post was obviously a response to the recent uproar caused by North Carolina passing a law which restricted public restroom and locker-room use to individuals based on birth sex. In simpler terms, people are angry that a person who was born a man but has since changed genders to a woman, will still be forced to share a locker-room with men even though they are a woman now.

This actually is not the first time that Schilling has been disciplined by the network for comments he made about popular social issues. In August of 2015, Curt was suspended from ESPN after he posted a meme on twitter that read, “It’s said ONLY 5-10% of Muslims are extremists…In 1940, ONLY 7% of Germans were Nazis, how’d that go?”

With all of this said, is it wrong for ESPN to fire Mr. Schilling because he expresses his personal beliefs? Some will argue that a man is entitled to his own opinion and he should not have to keep it to himself when we live in a country that takes pride in their freedom and where the First Amendment of our Constitution protects our freedom of speech. This is true but technically in the First Amendment it states that only the government cannot restrict freedom of speech from anyone. So actually ESPN did not infringe on his First Amendment rights and legally has the power to fire him if they wish.

Many of the stories that have been written about Curt Schilling and his recent termination state that what he said and more importantly how he said it was wrong but also credit him with starting a public conversation concerning a very popular issue. In an article from The New York Post titled “Curt Schilling got fired for his Common Sense on Bathrooms,” author Linda Chavez is inspired from Schilling to ask an important question. She writes, “Are Americans being intimidated into accepting public behavior that many feel threatens them — namely, allowing biologically male or female individuals to use public bathrooms that are designated for the opposite sex?” While this was a pretty “raw” way of giving his opinion on this certain topic of discussion, it has caused more and more people to start talking about something that may be looked at as a “sensitive” subject.

The statement ESPN issued regarding Schilling’s dismissal reads as follows, “Curt Schilling has been advised that his conduct was unacceptable and his employment with ESPN has been terminated.” In an article titled “Curt Schilling’s Crassness, Not Politics, Got Him Fired From ESPN” from forbes.com, author Alex Reimer claims that the analyst was only fired because of the way he gave his opinion, not the opinion itself. He writes, “Curt Schilling isn’t being persecuted for his right-wing views. He’s being persecuted for the crass and crude ways he expresses them.” This is very interesting and makes one think that if he had stated his views in a more appropriate way would he have still been let go?

It is unclear whether the public will ever know if the former pitcher was let go because the network thought his views were offending or if it was only because of the way he said it. One thing that is clear is that Schilling will not be a part of ESPN’s staff moving forward. Following his termination, Schilling was quoted as saying, “I’m not transphobic, I’m not homophobic.” So the question I have now is that if a different analyst, who doesn’t have a history of being outspoken, would have said something similar (in a gentler way) would he or she have been fired?

 

 

 

Brock Lesnar and the WWE get publicity off ESPN

By Paul Duncan

March 29, 2015

WWE superstar Brock Lesnar’s contract was going to end this Monday and rumors were swirling around that Lesnar would make his long awaited return to UFC. On Tuesday Lesnar appeared on SportsCenter to make his surprise announcement.

In an interview with noted WWE fan Michelle Beadle, Brock Lesnar declared that “my legacy, this Sunday at WrestleMania, (the Super Bowl of the WWE world) will not be my last.” He then went on to to explain the decision and even cut a brief promo about his title match with Roman Reigns. He then does an interview with ESPN anchor and former WWE commentator Jonathan Coachman and says that he loves wrestling for WWE.

What was even more interesting that they put this live segment over coverage of the Sweet 16 or of baseball starting soon. It is just really strange that they would put a “fake” sport over some of the other doings in sport.

Surprisingly this wasn’t the last interaction between WWE and ESPN during WrestleMania week. On the episode of RAW before WrestleMania, Grantland founder and ESPN personality Bill Simmons joined the commentary team during a match previewing the Andre the Giant Battle Royal and displayed impressive wrestling knowledge.

He even asked where the rabbit was referring to the long gone fan favorite “The Bunny.” (Yes WWE had an on screen character in a bunny costume, in fact he was pretty darn good.) On SportsNation Roman Reigns appeared to do some promoting when Brock Lesnar’s manager Paul Heyman interrupted rather rudely, and continued to hype up his client and his match against Reigns.

In addition Jon Gruden filmed a funny video of him breaking down wrestling footage for the upcoming Andre the Giant Battle Royal. He did mention that wrestler Titus O’Neil once played for the Florida Gators and got a sack on Peyton Manning to get some sports cred. These promotions make me wonder whether ESPN and the WWE have some type of agreement. This makes sense considering the close proximity of there headquarters and similar demographics that watch both products. It also doesn’t hurt that many of the WWE’s talents are former athletes themselves. Perhaps in the future we will see more interaction between the two entertainment giants even after WrestleMania.

Jim Rome on Showtime Well Worth the Subscription Fee

By Matt Rogers

For those of you that have not caught an episode of Jim Rome on Showtime, whether it be because cable is an added expense you can’t afford to take on, or that Showtime is an added fee on top of whatever it is you may pay for cable, you are definitely missing out. Personally, I do not subscribe to Showtime at my own home, but I was able to catch an episode of the show while visiting my family, and it is nothing short of phenomenal.

By now, most people who follow sports or listen to sports talk radio are familiar with Jim Rome. He has been a radio personality for almost two decades, and he had a show on ESPN called Rome is Burning, but neither of his other endeavors compare to his show that airs on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on Showtime.

In the episode of the show that I caught, Rome sat with a three-man panel consisting of former NFL Running Back, and winner of the 1995 Heisman Trophy, Eddie George, NFL Hall of Fame Wide Receiver, Michael Irvin, and former NBA forward, Brian Scalabrine. During this segment, Rome and the panel discussed a few of the most controversial current issues in sport. These issues were the case of the sexually assaulted athletes in Sayreville, New Jersey, the increase in domestic violence cases in the NFL, and their thoughts on what LeBron James would accomplish in his return to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The most interesting topic that was covered during the show was the Sayreville incident. During the segment covering the incident, Rome read a quote describing the incident that I have not seen or heard on any of the national media outlets. The quote read: “[A] freshman football player would be pinned to the locker room floor, his arms and feet held down by multiple upperclassmen. Then, the victim would be lifted to his feet while a finger was forced into his rectum.” Being that this case was initially reported as a case of hazing, this quote reveals that there was much more to what was being widespread through the most viewed national media outlets.

This plays into what I believe makes this show more interesting than what you would see on ESPN or any of the national networks. Showtime does not filter the language of responses of Rome or his guests. This helps Rome and the guests deliver thoughts and responses that are more indicative of what they are actually thinking at the moment, rather than needing to stop and filter their answers of any profanity or any other language that the people watching may not agree with.

This element of the show implies that it is geared more toward adults rather than the watered down version of Rome that children would view on ESPN, which would explain why the show appears in a weekday, prime time slot, on a premium cable channel. This element also creates a more genuine feel to the show than that of the shows that air on weekday afternoon cable or television shows, where the responses in interviews seem scripted.

Jim Rome on Showtime is also an example of how the freedom of press, in regards to sport, is expanding. Although the show appears on premium cable, it pushes the boundaries that exist when covering sports, especially when dealing with the issue of what can, or cannot, be said publicly.