Sports journalism crossing ethical boundaries

Friday, September 12, 2008

By: Hannah Pickett

Personally, I am a major sports enthusiast. I love to play sports, coach sports, and watch sports live and on television. Lately, however, I have noticed that much of the sports journalism world is beginning to resemble the front page of a tabloid. Not only have rumors flown about the Patriot's quarterback, Tom Brady, getting injured in last week's game and sideline for the season, but now, I have run across a story in the news that just might be crossing an ethical journalistic line as far as sports are concerned. Last time I checked, we sports enthusiasts were more interested in the game, drafts, and newcomers, rather than athletes' personal issues.

The Tennessee Titans' starting quarterback, Vince Young, was put in the spotlight after the police were called Monday night to check on Young after information regarding thoughts of suicide were slipped from Young's therapist to his coach. According to Young's therapist, the NFL quarterback mentioned suicide several times in his session before driving home with a gun.

The concern about Young's mental state began with an 'off game' he had last week where he threw his second interception against Jacksonville, and four plays later, he was sacked and sat out the rest of the game with a knee injury. With upset fans 'booing' him off the field, Young was no doubt down on himself.

This story appeared on the major news stations as a lead story with headlines like, "Report: Therapist said Young mentioned suicide."

What does Young's mental state have to do with his performance on the field? Basically, why should this be a leading story on major news networks? It crosses an ethical line in sports journalism, in my opinion. The focus shouldn't necessarily be on something that slipped out in a private therapy session, but rather if his knee injury will allow him to play in the next game.

Young and his family were outraged at the media attention this attracted, saying that the media blew the entire situation out of proportion. How far will a sports journalist go to get the irrelevant story that doesn't regard field performance?


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