Are tragic events taboos in sports journalism? Part 1

Screen shot of a tweet sent out by Fenerbahçe's international account @fenerint

Screen shot of a tweet sent out by Fenerbahçe’s international account @fenerint

Saturday night one of the elite teams in the Turkish top division, Fenerbahçe Spor Kulübü, got attacked on their way home from an away game. Fenerbahçe had just beaten Çaykur Rizespor 5-1, and was on their way back to the airport to travel back to Istanbul. There were over 40 players and staff members on the team bus that got attacked. The attacked seems to be performed by one man who fired some kind of rifle, believed to be a shotgun, towards the team bus. The bus driver is the only one who go shot, and latest reports says he is in a stabile coma. This story was allover the news, at lest the sports news, on Saturday, but already as I am writing this on SUNDAY(!!) the story has been pushed down and the new top story is how Cristiano Ronaldo scored five goals for Real Madrid in their game on Sunday. WOW!

Screen shot of a tweet sent out by Fenerbahçe's international account @fenerint

Screen shot of a tweet sent out by Fenerbahçe’s international account @fenerint

So I started thinking how and why can such a big, horrible story get pushed down so fast? Can it be because it’s a small team in European standards and don’t really have global appeal? No, the Turkish league is a fairly big and attractive league, Fenerbahçe is one of the elite teams, they won the league last season and are fighting to become back-to-back champions, and they were in the Europa League semifinal two seasons ago, so I don’t think it has anything to do with the size of the club or the reputation of the league. This is a big story, it would have been big if it happened to a team in the fourth division in Belgium, and it should be huge since it happened to a big team in a pretty big league.

Screen shot of a tweet sent out by Fenerbahçe's international account @fenerint

Screen shot of a tweet sent out by Fenerbahçe’s international account @fenerint

So why then, why is this story being pushed down by the media and considered “not important” or “old news” in less than 24 hours? Is sport news really so trivial that the media tries to hide the more “serious” news concerning sports or if not hide, maybe cover it as much as they should? I got stuck thinking about that question for a while, thinking back on scandals and tragedy that involved sports. It’s not like those stories aren’t covered, I can name a dozens of scandals and tragic stories concerning sports, Lance Armstrong doping (I hate doping so much and I hate that smug bastard even more), Christian Benitez dying of heart failure, FIFA corruption allegations, Ray Rice hitting his girlfriend, I have plenty more where that came from. So what’s the deal then, I remember these stories, some of them got covered really well, is this shooting accident an exception not the rule?

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One thought on “Are tragic events taboos in sports journalism? Part 1

  1. emilyrwolfrum says:

    I really enjoyed this post. I think that sports coverage is often biased in the way that it seeks to portray athletics. One can see a similar “pushing down” of coverage when athletes are commit crimes. While the general news will pay close attention to these stories, sports media tends to avoid them. There is a great need to preserve the integrity of the sports in order to appeal and maintain their audience. While it would be unwise for sports networks to sabotage themselves with negative images of athletics, there is a question of objectivity when such scandals are blatantly downplayed.

    Like

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