SBD/Issue 90/Sports Media

ESPN Ombudsman Takes Issue With Plans For Bonds, Knight TV

ESPN Ombudsman Questions
Net’s Partnership With Knight
In his latest contribution as ESPN’s Ombudsman, George Solomon wrote of ESPN’s planned reality series with Texas Tech basketball coach Bobby Knight and Giants LF Barry Bonds, “A partnership with either of these subjects boggles the mind, however beneficial to the ratings these projects might become. Simply collaborating with such high profile newsmakers seems out of place with the covenants of the kind of broadcast journalism most ESPN staffers seek to attain.” Solomon noted there have been suggestions that ESPN is overly promoting Disney’s “Glory Road,” but wrote, “I haven’t seen any overkill, however, and I am told that ESPN has a policy to note the Disney connection whenever something has been done on the movie.” On ESPN’s Kenny Mayne appearing on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” Solomon wrote, “Mayne — and others who work on news shows or cover events — would better serve the network by avoiding celebrity competitions, or doing commercials.” With ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas on January 17 suggesting that the Kentucky men’s basketball team should see the film “Brokeback Mountain” to “have a good cry,” Solomon wrote, “Bilas meant no malice, but obviously did not understand the breadth and impact of the film.” On viewer complaints that “SportsCenter” and ESPNews are not offering enough NHL coverage, Solomon wrote, “I believe they are getting appropriate coverage.” Solomon called the following overcovered: Michelle Wie playing in men’s events, high school football players announcing college choices and Maurice Clarett. For undercovered: the U.S. men’s soccer team preparing for the World Cup, Turin Games lead-in and Haile Gebrselassie setting a marathon world record (, 1/26).

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