Thursday, May 10, 2012

Joe Cowley: A Prime Example of Sports Media Fail

We're kinda coming in late to the Joe Cowley thing, but hey, his "jokes" are about 30 years late, too, so all's fair.

To catch you up, Joe Cowley, sports columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, has been reprimanded by his bosses for a series of disrespectful and misogynist tweets last weekend. He's had a history of pulling some bullshit before, and it appears that he's on his final warning with the paper.

Cowley's misogyny- that's really the only word for it- is certainly disturbing. It even stands out in the insular world of sports writing. Yes, sports writing was, for far too long, the exclusive purview of men. And yes, too many people still feel or act like it should be; they're hostile to women interviewing athletes, they expect women to put their sexuality first, and they're dismissive of women's ability to write. Cowley was certainly empowered and influenced by all of that. But Cowley is also a step beyond all of that, if only because he was so explicit- and so committed!- about it. He really wants you to know that he thinks women can't fly planes!

Of course, the line on Cowley is that he's intentionally "provocative" and "edgy", so I guess it's no surprise that he crosses the line every once in a while. He's the sports equivalent of a shock jock. But that's one of those defenses that actually just causes more harm, because sports doesn't need shock jocks.

Yes, sports need to be entertaining- but they are all on their own. Football, baseball- these things are not so boring that they can only be appreciated with a sports writer inserting unrelated one-liners, MST3K-style, into his coverage of them. They stand just fine on their own, and when we need a little extra entertainment from them, I'd prefer to go to straight-up humor sites like Down Goes Brown or NBA Memes.

Sports writers, broadcasters, reporters- these guys are supposed to be informing us about the game. When they don't do that, when they use their positions as just another venue for their stand up act, they're cheating us. Guys like Cowley are trying to market a persona, and we don't give a shit about his persona, we just want to know about the games.

(This is one of those "General Principle" things. ESPN could learn that fact, if it weren't so busy printing Chris Berman posters.)

Joe Cowley deserves every bit of scorn coming his way for his nasty comments. But the fact is, even if he never says another unkind word about women again, he's still useless to us. Because we want to watch sports, not the Joe Cowley Show.

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