Here’s the latest example – University of Michigan Football Coach Rich Rodriguez. In his third season of leading college football’s all-time winningest program, Rodriguez has presided over more on-field losing and off-field issues than the school has seen in generations. His record in Big Ten games is just 4-16. His defense is giving up yardage and points in unprecedented fashion. His school is waiting to hear about its first NCAA penalties in football, ever. But as reported by the Detroit Free Press’ Mark Synder on this blog, as the coach addressed his weekly press conference today, he blames the negative attention on the media’s zest for negativity. Right.
As Don noted earlier today in his post about campaigns, it can be human nature, and the media’s, to chase negativity. But, sports is the exception. The sports media, especially in a local market, has little, if anything to gain, from negative news. In sports – winning sells. When teams win big games, fans actually buy paper copies of the newspapers for souvenirs. When teams win, TV and radio ratings go up. Two winning teams in a matchup will always attract more interest than two losing teams. In the sports media business, winning is good for ratings.
Rodriguez seems to be yet another egomaniac in a high-profile position who cannot accept responsibility for his own actions. Like the politician embroiled in scandal who points the finger at media “out to get him” or a CEO of a failing company that blames it on “negative press,” Rodriguez seems like he would rather not be accountable. For that, and the inexcusably poor grammar in today’s statement to the media (“that don’t sell”), I say that the University and its fans deserve better.