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An Open Letter to ESPN, Deadspin, and Bleacher Report: Show Some Respect

There's a couple bones to pick with media outlets that seem to only delight in highlighting the perceived failures of the Mid-American Conference. Time to tell them all what's what.

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Dear ESPN, Deadspin, and Bleacher Report:

Show some respect.

All of you are great at executing breaking news, creating interesting long-form articles, and giving adequate analysis of every game that you cover. When you stay within those parameters, you give great coverage of the sports that you cover.

What you do not know how to do is be funny. In order to be funny, it requires education, common sense, and sensitivity. In order to be clever, it also helps to be accurate, and to just do thorough research. (Or at the very least, be sensitive.)

Exhibit A: This past Friday, ESPN announced that Eastern Michigan's "Brick Wall" entrance made No. 1 on the Not Top 10, proclaiming it a "fail" and being snarky in their commentary, even giving it the silly music in the highlight. Get three of your friends together and try to do the same thing to a cinder block wall. I'll time you. I bet it takes longer than it took those "failing" Eagles.

It's lazy journalism at its best. Posting a video and then saying "hey look, check out this fail!" is opening the door for people to mock the school, harming its reputation. Deadspin and Bleacher Report also got in on this act.

Why is this a big deal to me? As MLive's Michael Niziolek points out, it really devalues the significance of the entrance to the players and fans. The fans and team were all in for the celebration, which goes right in line with "The Factory" mentality that head coach Chris Creighton hopes to instill in his team. They have been down on their luck the last couple of years, and so an unanticipated hiccup can suddenly fit the narrative of the pathetically bad Eagles. It's sad, and honestly, we expect better from such highly esteemed organizations.

Exhibit B: On Saturday's slate of games, Central Michigan and Purdue matched up against one another and Central Michigan punter/kicker Ron Coluzzi was hit hard on a punt return. Deadspin and Bleacher Report picked up the hit immediately, with Deadspin sensitively titling their piece "This Is What Happens When Punters Try To Tackle." Bleacher Report went a step further saying that the punter was "completely destroyed" on their teaser promo.

This is highly insensitive clickbait. They failed to report that Coluzzi was taken out of the game with a head injury suffered on that hit they all found so funny, and missed the rest of the game; his status for next week is currently unknown.

With what we know about the serious health ramifications of head injuries,  you would think that media would see a hit that created a head injury and not put it up on their site as a "haha look, sportz fail" story. But they did. And that is severely disappointing.

Exhibit C: GOOD GOD, JUST REPORT INFORMATION ACCURATELY. There were plenty of score keeping snafus committed by ESPN this week, the highlight being Colorado hanging 41 points in the fourth quarter on Massachusetts... after only four minutes of play in said quarter. On their "College Gameday Halftime Show," the announcers said that Cooper Rush threw a touchdown to Anthony Rush... whose actual name is Anthony Rice. Kent State's Colin Reardon became "Casey Reardon". The Big Ten Network called Jordan Lynch a "pure passing quarterback", despite being known for his run first, pass-later philosophy at quarterback. Hell, Lynch was converted to running back in the NFL!

Such mistakes insinuate that the networks do not take the MAC seriously. They cannot be bothered to do their homework, let alone get player names right, and frankly, it is an insult to every MAC fan, athlete, and member school when they fail to do so. On MAC broadcasts, instead of focusing discussion on the game and teams in play, or the MAC as a whole (division races, players to watch for, etc.), the networks show speculative college football playoff scenarios and cut in to other games that have nothing to do with the teams in the game, because, ya know, it requires a little bit of research to actually learn enough about these MAC teams to hold a conversation. (We're looking at you, ESPN.) It is a very bad look on these outlets, and such lackadaisical coverage fails the audience that tunes in each week. (An audience that can't go elsewhere to watch their MAC sports.)

I don't know about you, MACtion fans, but I have had enough of being disrespected. We have made a lot of noise as a collective conference recently. Northern Illinois busted into the BCS once, and came a quarter from doing it again. The MAC has collected "upset" wins over Power 5 teams in non-conference play like they're baseball cards. The MAC has also fielded a Heisman finalist in 2014, and had top 5 NFL Draft picks in the last two years, including Central Michigan's  Eric Fisher going number one in 2013. NUMBER ONE!

Why can't these outlets talk about how Central dominated Purdue on all ends, instead of talking about how unacceptable it was for Purdue to lose that game? Or talk about how Ball State stifled and embarrassed Iowa for most of the game, forcing the Hawkeyes to come back from 10 down, instead of saying Iowa "squeaked by" with the win? Adjusting the language of segments really does have an affect on how teams (and conferences) are perceived by the viewer. (Example: the SEC.)

Why would sites such as Deadspin and Bleacher Report only highlight perceived "failures" by the Mid-American Conference, and what would possibly possess them to make fun of a potentially dangerous situation for Coluzzi? Did they not think that through before publishing? Are they that cruel, and dense that they find a head injury funny?

Whether you like it or not, the Mid-American Conference is up-and-coming, and you need to respect that. Continuing to laugh at our injuries, get our players names wrong and talk about our teams and players like they don't exist is rude, offensive, and breaches some of the basic rules of journalism. As a media-consuming audience, we honestly expect better from you. And we will be expecting better from now on.

You have been warned, various media outlets. Don't make me come back and call you out again.



P.S.: We're not the MAC Conference. Just the MAC.