The television network ESPN downplays NFL scandals and crises to protect the league’s reputation while its exploiting players. The National Football League is a multi-billion dollar business that uses billions of tax dollars to fund its owners. Players have a weak union, a hidden domestic abuse problem, and a rise in mental health issues. Although one might expect ESPN, one of the largest sports media companies, to investigate player concerns and scandals, it does not. The NFL produces large revenues for ESPN, resulting in conflict of interests: ESPN prefers to protect its asset rather than expose problems.
As Michael Corcoran reports, “The NFL been also been accused of—or complicit in—numerous other recent scandals that stretch way beyond the game of football: due process, minimum wage violations, domestic abuse, fraud by an owner and the ill health and (suicides) of former players.”
ESPN is valued at roughly $40 billion and has a $15.2 billion contract to air NFL games. ESPN downplays the scandals that have any negative effect on the owners while they are ruthless in leaking similar issues that come from the players, such as the Ray Rice domestic abuse case. When they were scheduled to have a piece on Frontline NBC, they ended up backing out due to “editorial control”, which begs the question, what do they have to hide?
This story has not been discussed in mainstream media. Due to the fact that ESPN and the NFL are such massive corporations there have been questions, but there have not been other articles directly investigating the NFL and ESPN’s hidden agendas.
Source: Michael Corcoran, “Protecting the Shield: Why ESPN can’t be trusted to cover the NFL,” Truthout, September 27, 2015, http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/32958-protecting-the-shield-why-espn-can-t-be-trusted-to-cover-the-nfl.
Student Researcher: Gregory Kirk (Sonoma State University)
Faculty Evaluator: Debora Paterniti (Sonoma State University)