As most sports media followers are well aware, ESPN lured writer Rick Reilly away from Sports Illustrated for a hefty paycheck and, most probably, a promise of TV stardom.
Bringing a big name such as Reilly to ESPN means that, unfortunately, other ESPN writers might be in danger of losing some positioning. As ESPN pushes their big investment down our collective gullet, other columnists and contributors will certainly be pushed to the fringes of the .com. Which also means less exposure for the issues that they address.
Reilly has written four pieces thus far for the WWL. The topics:
- his father
- rooting for Phil Mickelson
- Georgia high school baseball
- a sailing catastrophe
We'll give you a hint: Clorox.
ESPN has given us such columnists as Jason Whitlock, Scoop Jackson, LZ Granderson, Jemele Hill, Stephen A. Smith, Bomani Jones and several other writers who have made espn.com and Page 2 the go to source for relevant sports commentary, insight and opinion.
But now...now we get Rick Reilly's colorless take on his relationship with his father. His bleachified notion that we should root against Tiger Woods, in favor of the lumpy, white Mickelson. We get a preachy discourse about 'good sportsmanship' in response to the antics of some Georgian high school baseball players. And we get a tear jerking tale about a man who gave his life so others could survive a sailboat accident.
Sailing. High School baseball. Golf. His father.
Clorox. And not the color safe variety.
Not a mention of any of the issues, trials or tribulations faced by Negro athletes in sports in America.
Not an ounce of social conscience as we prepare for our first Negro President. (Clinton can have the title of 'first Black' President. Obama is the first Negro.)
Not an attempt to shed light on any of the myriad injustices being systematically perpetrated against the Original athlete on a daily basis.
Even the deplorable and hideously predictable Bill Simmons has made mention at times of the iron clad grip racism holds on sports.
But Mr. Reilly? Not one nod to the subject. Not so much as a word.
How does ESPN intend for Reilly to be taken seriously as a columnist if he continues to shirk the long standing ESPN tradition of racially commentary? How does Mr. Reilly intend to bring page views to his column if he continues to simply provide this laundry service-like pattern?
The only column this far that could even be construed to have any sort of racially implied undertone or commentary is the golf entry. Metaphorically speaking, Reilly seems to be saying that we should be rooting against ALL Negro athletes because they are better than their dumpy, white counterparts.
Obviously, some readers will contend that we are reading too much into Reilly's urging people to hate Woods; but what else can we do? Reilly didn't take the initiative to elaborate or introduce race (at least overtly) into his column. Therefore, we are left to do it on our own, and that is the only way his column CAN be taken. A modern soliloquy exhorting his fellow Caucazoids to unite against the only Negro golfer of consequence. Which, logically allows for the leap to rooting against all Negroes in any endeavor. And, since Mr. Reilly never bothers to specifically address race, we can only assume that is what was intended.
Reilly certainly has a literary talent. That can't be argued.
But, until he comes down from the Ivory Tower and begins to frame his commentary in racial terms and find (even search for, if need be) opportunities to discuss issues of race --the injustice, insensitivity and down right -ism -- so prevalent in sports....
We can't take him seriously as writer.
Mr. Reilly is certainly a fine storyteller. But, unfortunately, he falls short of the type of commentary and insight we are used to getting from espn.com' Page 2.
Clearly, Disney had $3M to burn.