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SBD/Issue 242/Sports Media
Mariotti's Arrest Topic Of Conversation On "Around The Horn"
Published August 31, 2010
|"Around The Horn" Panelists Discuss Mariotti
For First Time Since His Arrest
ESPN’s “Around The Horn” yesterday aired its first episode since frequent panelist Jay Mariotti was arrested in L.A. on felony domestic assault charges, and the show went “far gentler” on the issue “than it would on most athletes or owners in similar straits, but at least it didn’t duck the story altogether," according to Phil Rosenthal of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. Host Tony Reali “steered discussion away from the serious allegations against Mariotti and what the long-range response should be" from both ESPN and FanHouse.com, which has suspended Mariotti from writing his regular column. Reali also did not “score” the panelists’ “quality of their answers, as is custom.” Rosenthal writes the “responses were uncharacteristically subdued variations of the same line: Each of the three commentators was saddened but unsurprised, given the way Mariotti’s judged others in his various media forums” (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 8/31). Author Jim Miller, who is working on a book on the history of ESPN, wrote on his Twitter account, “If ATH hadn't brought up J. Mariotti they would have been slammed, so give em credit for taking it on. But was it also cathartic?” (TWITTER.com, 8/31).
FROM HIS COLLEAGUES: FanHouse.com’s Kevin Blackistone said he was not surprised by the backlash against Mariotti because he "has always been a polarizing figure.” Blackistone: “There's a lot of ego and envy in this business of sports commentating. I think a lot of people are very uncomfortable with the fact that he's risen as he has by being such a provocateur and always telling other people what to do and how to run their lives and how they should be treated thereafter. So I really wasn't surprised by the avalanche of criticism that came, particularly from the media or even from athletes and people that read and watch his work." Denver Post columnist Woody Paige: "I'm saddened by the situation but I'm not shocked by the reaction. We have chosen -- all of us -- to go on this national stage and offer strong, powerful opinions and as a result of that, sometimes the critics become criticized. We have moved into glass houses." Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan: "He chose to be America's ultimate contrarian and he seemed comfortable doing that. He took on players, coaches, owners, everybody, sometimes even other members of the media. He took a very high moral stance and now there is a great deal of … people reveling in his downfall. I was once suspended for a foolish remark for a month and I was heartened and gratified by the tremendous support I got from people in the business, both male and female. It got me through that much easier. I only regret that Jay does not enjoy that same support but he'll have to start rethinking about how he's going about his business" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 8/30).