League of Fans Calls For Sports Journalists to Fulfill Their Journalistic Duty

Asks Fans and Other Stakeholders to Demand More From the Sports Media and Its Large “News Hole”

Ralph Nader announced today that his League of Fans organization is starting a campaign to ask the sports media to increase their work on the social, cultural, and economic aspects of sports.

“The sports media are falling dreadfully short when it comes to the in-depth examination of why our major sports problems exist and what can be done to fix them or prevent them,” said Nader. “They’re overloading their audiences with sugar – the entertainment aspects of spectator sports – and giving them very little in the way of healthy fruits and vegetables – the “whys” and “hows” of our current sports issues. That has to change.”

Ken Reed, League of Fans’ sports policy director, said that from a journalistic ethics perspective, the sports media has the corporate social responsibility to give us more than game coverage, trade rumors and injury reports from our big-time sports leagues.

“As a whole – and there definitely are exceptions — the sports media too often simply identify the symptoms of problems and then stop,” says Reed. “Rarely, do they dig for root causes, or examine important sports issues from a holistic perspective, including social, educational, economic, safety, and health angles. And they don’t ask questions like, ‘Is sport, as presently constructed in this country, meeting the needs of participants, spectators, taxpayers and families?’ There’s virtually no examination of the core sports systems and models at work. For the most part, they’re taken for granted.”

League of Fans is calling for sports media organizations to 1) establish a sports issues and sports reform beat; 2) add an ombudsman function to investigate complaints from fans and other sports stakeholders; and 3) cover all aspects of sports, including participatory sports, not just highly commercialized spectator sports. In addition, League of Fans is asking fans to demand more from traditional sports media and utilize the tools of the Internet to challenge sports media conglomerates.

“Media routines and ruts have been successfully challenged throughout our history,” said Reed. “Traditional sports media companies can be improved by public demand. It’s time to engage in the struggle.”

The announcement came in conjunction with the release of the League of Fans’ eleventh report, “Sports Media Dropping the Ball on Social, Cultural and Economic Issues in Sports,” from its Sports Manifesto. The full report is available here.


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