Monday, April 20, 2009

On "Bias"

It is a miserable day in New York City; if ever they were going to shoot a sequel to Seven,* today would have been the optimal time. Therefore, I am going to engage in that time-honored Internet tradition of complaining about something that someone else is complaining about.

Headline: San Diego Padres' Heath Bell complains about "East Coast Bias" in sports coverage. "I'm really turned off by ESPN and 'Baseball Tonight.'," he says. "When Jake Peavy threw 8 1/3 innings on Saturday, they showed one pitch in the third inning and that was it. It's all about the Red Sox, Yankees and Mets.”

Addled Bloggers' Response:
I've never understood why people seem so preoccupied with pointing out "bias" when that "bias," in the grand scheme of things, means absolutely nothing at all. I remember watching Penn State football games as a child and hearing people complain about the Southern "bias" of Frank Broyles, who used to do color commentary with Keith Jackson back in the days when the game clock we saw on our television screens was actually an encapsulated version of the stadium's digital scoreboard clock. And you know what? They were probably right about it, since Broyles wound up becoming the longtime athletic director at Arkansas. And yet I cannot remember this "bias" affecting my enjoyment of any Penn State game, ever. Nor did it affect the outcome, as far as I know.

But let's say it is true. In fact, let's say every announcer is, in fact, "bias" (and yes, I know "biased" is the proper usage, but this is the Internet, and grammar is optional) against somebody for reasons we cannot even begin to comprehend, usually because of a grand and improvable conspiracies involving the National Security Agency, Jimmy Hoffa and the plot of a Warren Beatty film. Let's say Al Michaels hates the Cleveland Browns because he once got food poisoning from the cafe at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.** Let's say Dick Vitale is actually receiving graft for a wildly experimental hair treatment from Mike Krzyzewski.*** Let's say Brent Musburger holds a grudge against the Montana State Bobcats, since the University of Montana once gave him an honorary doctorate.**** Let us say all this is true, and then let me ask you this:

Who cares? How does this affect you? How does this affect anything?

We are both blessed and cursed to live in an age where most of us have access to infinite sources of information, all the time; therefore, "bias" should be less relevant than ever before, and yet it has somehow become an excuse for everyone everywhere to blame their problems on the purveyors of the information.

And so I would just like to remind Heath Bell, who complained about ESPN's apparent East Coast Bias, that the information he is seeking about his own team and others located three hours to the west of Bristol Mean Time--including more highlights of Jake Peavy, his teammate, who, I'm assuming, he gets to see in person every so often--is readily available in approximately 13 million other places, outside of ESPN, including the MLB Network, which Bell mentioned, which, of course, has no "bias" at all*****. The larger point is this: Have you ever been to San Diego? Why, if you live in San Diego, are you ever inside, watching television? In fact, why anyone out there gets worked up about anything besides Dr. Zog's sex wax and fish tacos is beyond me.

Among these additional sources of information, of course, are your local newspaper. However, I also understand that this local newspaper is no doubt "bias" because it employs a columnist/editorial writer who is "bias" against whichever political persuasion you happen to ascribe to, and is therefore thoroughly infected with "bias," and could not possibly report objectively on anything, ever. It is a vicious cycle, and there is no real answer except to boycott television, the Internet, and newspapers, move to the Mojave desert (West Coast desert "bias" alert!), and live among the wolves (despite their vehement anti-sheep views).

Then again, I live in New York. So I have no idea who Heath Bell actually is.

*Now with extra gluttony!
***Unlikely, but not impossible.
****This is actually true. The honorary doctorate part, that is. I do not know if Brent is anti-Bobcat, but it would be a hell of a lot cooler if he was.
*****Except perhaps against the NFL Network.

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