Tonight, we get to see the most ridiculous thing in sports journalism.
Tonight, of course, is the night when the NFL schedule for the upcoming season is announced. Which means talented, serious NFL writers will bend over backwards trying to become the first to report on the order of a list of games against predetermined opponents that will be played five months from now.
On a night when there are actual playoff games being played, when there are hundreds of stories — big and small, heart-warming and investigative — that could be told, sports journalists are devoting time, energy and resources trying to be the first to report a list of games.
It’s the most stupidest thing in sports journalism.
To be clear: Sports journalists should absolute cover this. They should absolutely write about it. Fans should absolutely be interested in it.
My problem is covering it as an EVENT! Not covering what it is in a proportional way. Covering it as a great unveiling, a news happening, a thing worth banner headlines and special hashtags and stopping the world to watch. It’s revealing a list of games against predetermined opponents, and the sports media collectively treat this as if it was actual breaking news.
This is the worst part about metric-driven journalism. It’s covered this way because people care about it. Fans read about it, talk about it, share in social media. There’s a ton of interest in it. I get that. But to treat it like it’s a thing, an EVENT, because ESPN and the NFL Network turned it into a made-for-TV event a few years ago is ridiculous. The trickle of news today was even more ridiculous. There were talks of “leaks” as if this was something out of the Trump administration. Reporters were trying to be the first to report on a team’s season opener or the league’s schedule. Sorry, but that’s a waste of time and attention. It’s a scoop that has no value to readers. Seriously. There was no difference in my knowing the Bills are playing the Jets in the season opener at 1 p.m. or 8 p.m.
We should cover what fans care about. But when clicks, metrics and what the people want become so dominant a news value that we lose all perspective and the unveiling of a schedule is treated as a BREAKING NEWS EVENT, we cease being journalists and become an extension of the league’s marketing department.