Poynter Review Examines Media Coverage Of Tim Tebow, ESPN's Role In Tebowmania
In the latest entry for ESPN as part of the Poynter Review Project, Kelly McBride discussed the "national obsession" with Broncos QB Tim Tebow, and noted during the regular season, "Tebowmania was in full force across all media, not just ESPN." However, ESPN "took the cake, along with a lot of criticism, when it came to Tebowmania." McBride listed the "highlights" of ESPN's Tebow coverage, and noted commentator Skip Bayless "spent an inordinate amount of time on 'First Take' offering up praise for Tebow," while "SportsCenter" dedicated "two special shows to Tebow." McBride noted everyone "we talked to at the network was unapologetic about the coverage." Whenever Tebow "plays, fans watch." When sports anchors and radio hosts "are talking about Tebow, the ratings go up." Every time Tebow "does something unexpected or new, there will be a story." McBride: "And you can expect someone, somewhere at ESPN to cover it. So who objects to all this? As far as we can tell, the resentment comes from two places. When ESPN binges on a single story, viewers who value variety are offended. Then there are fans who care mainly about the play on the field. They follow the sport, not the story." Coverage of "individual athletes is not a meritocracy at ESPN; it is based on what the crowd wants." "SportsCenter" Senior Coordinating Producer Michael Shiffman said there are athletes that "move the needle." Critics may "talk about fatigue over Tebow or any other athlete who draws disproportionate attention, but folks at ESPN look at hard data" (ESPN.com, 1/26).