Thursday, June 16, 2011

10 Sports Media Scandals That Shook the Industry

Studios consisting of sports reporters and analysts, most of whom are guys, often resemble high school locker rooms more than professional work environments. With the extra dosages of testosterone, boundaries can become nonexistent, as evidenced by the numerous incidents that have occurred, or or are said to have occurred, at ESPN. That kind of behavior, which certainly didn't start in the studio, is usually even more evident outside of work, where a few have ruined their careers and lives by merely acting on impulse. These sports media members victimized themselves — just one was victimized by someone else, she's the exception — while making headlines in the process. Whether it was sexual harassment or stupid comments, one can't help but wonder how guys who attended college could be so dumb.
  1. OJ Simpson, murder charges — 1994: Many people forget that, at the time of the Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman murders, Simpson was employed by NBC as an NFL analyst. As rumors of his involvement were essentially confirmed by the infamous Bronco chase, NBC broke from its coverage of the NBA Finals to broadcast the ordeal live. Bob Costas, Simpson's colleague on the NFL on NBC and studio host for the NBA on NBC, narrated the sequence of events as they unfolded, at one point saying "it's not just tragic but now surreal." Of course, before he became one of the most polarizing figures in America, he was one of the most beloved, which is why he was coveted for such television gigs.
  2. Marv Albert, sexual assault charges — 1997: Best known as the voice of the NBA during its most popular era, Albert's professionalism, dry wit and avuncular personality made him the perfect play-by-play man for big events. Because of his positive reputation, nobody would've guessed that he was a sexual deviant prior to his sexual assault charges. When the news broke, the media had a field day with the incident as reports surfaced that he only wore women's underwear and a belt while he repeatedly bit the back of his mistress and allegedly sodomized her. He pled guilty to misdemeanor assault and battery charges, and the sodomy charges were dropped, a relief for Albert, but it didn't prevent NBC from firing him and the late night talk shows from incessantly making jokes at his expense. Albert returned to NBC in 2000 and has managed to fully rehabilitate his career.
  3. Erin Andrews, peephole incident — 2009: The sports media has always been a tough field for women because it's considered a "male domain" unfriendly to outsiders. Andrews, as far as we know, hasn't had to deal with sexual harassment, but she has been gawked at. Male sports fans have been drooling over her since she covered the Braves for TBS, a fact that hasn't gone unnoticed by ESPN, which has gradually elevated her responsibilities during her tenure with the network. At the height of her popularity, she was victimized by a stalker who recorded her nude in her hotel room through a peephole. The video went viral in the summer of 2009, causing Andrews to take a leave of absence from ESPN. The videos were eventually removed from the sites, she appeared on Oprah to discuss the ordeal, and she returned to work with her reputation intact. The culprit, 47-year-old Michael David Barrett, was sentenced to 30 months in prison for his action.
  4. Jimmy the Greek, controversial comments — 1988: Football without gambling would be like bread without butter, and Jimmy the Greek recognized the necessary union. His successful weekly pro-football betting line led to his appearances on CBS's The NFL Today, where he delivered his weekly picks. People loved him because he spoke his mind, but, like many who share the same personality, his lack of a filter got him in trouble. He was fired from CBS when, as speaking to a Washington DC television reporter, he linked the proficiency of African American athletes to slavery. Even though he apologized for the comments, his career was ruined, setting forth a tragic personal downfall for the sports gambling pioneer.
  5. Steve Phillips, affair with ESPN production assistant — 2009: As the general manager of the Mets in 1998, Phillips was forced to take a leave of absence as he faced sexual harassment accusations from a woman with whom he had an affair. Although he didn't lose his job, it was a sign of things to come for his future employer. Eleven years later, he was dismissed by the Worldwide Leader after it was revealed that he had a sexual relationship with ESPN production assistant Brooke Hundley — it was the type of behavior rumored to be characteristic of employees at the network. When Phillips ended the affair, the 22-year-old Hundley harassed Phillips and his family, an unexpected consequence that exacerbated his problems. Phillips entered sex rehab and later secured a job with SIRIUS XM Radio.
  6. Jayson Williams, murder charges — 2002: The centerpiece of NBC's NBA studio show during the 2001-02 season — after they failed to land the services of Charles Barkley — Williams' larger-than-life personality was perfectly suited for his new television gig. His, as opposed to Barkley's, propensity for troublemaking, however, wasn't. His burgeoning career abruptly ended as he was accused of the bizarre shooting death of 55-year-old limousine driver Costas Christofi and attempting to cover it up. The incident occurred accidently while he showed off his shotgun in his 30,000-square-foot home. In 2009, Christofi's family settled a wrongful death civil lawsuit for $2.75 million, and in 2010, Williams was sentenced to five years in prison.
  7. Harold Reynolds, sexual harassment accusations — 2006: The affable Harold Reynolds was beloved by baseball fans who religiously tuned in to ESPN's Baseball Tonight for his analysis and humor. When he was suddenly terminated, many had a hard time believing he was capable of sexual harassing a woman, an accusation that he eventually fought by suing the network. According to Reynolds, the situation was a misunderstanding — he simply hugged a woman who misinterpreted the action. It's still unclear whether it was a pattern of behavior or ESPN implemented a no-tolerance policy on such matters, but the mistake didn't prevent him from landing on his feet at the MLB Network in 2009.
  8. Howard Cosell, controversial comment — 1983: Without Cosell, the Jimmy the Greeks and Jay Mariottis of the world would be few and far between. He was the first sports broadcaster to offer his authentic viewpoints on matters relating not only to the game itself, but on issues that reached beyond the field of play. His un-PC approach landed him in on hot water on several occasions, but none like when he called Washington Redskins wide receiver Alvin Garrett, an African American, a "little monkey" during a Monday Night Football telecast. Cosell defended it by saying he had previously used the nickname for diminutive white athletes such as Mike Adamle. Nevertheless, he left Monday Night Football after the season, as his career was already waning.
  9. Jay Mariotti, domestic violence charges — 2010: Another ESPN bad boy, Mariotti's combative and argumentative personality is a major reason why the network hired him to appear as a panelist on the debate show Around the Horn. His feuds with fellow panelist Woody Paige and Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, with the latter being more serious than the former, only added to his reputation. Last year, his true colors showed when he pled no contest to a misdemeanor battery count after a domestic altercation with his girlfriend. He was given three years of probation and hasn't since appeared on ESPN. Because he's generally unlikeable, it will probably be difficult for him to rebuild his career.
  10. Sean Salisbury, sexual harassment — 2007: When sites such as The Big Lead and Deadspin revealed that Salisbury had adopted 21st century methods of sexually harassing his coworkers, Salisbury vehemently denied the reports, going so far as to threaten Deadspin with a lawsuit. The incident caused him to get fired from ESPN and his job at a Dallas radio station, crippling his previously thriving television career. He has since admitted to the actions, and is set to host a sports comedy talk show on Versus.

Courtesy : Jennifer
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