I was delighted to find out this evening that espn.com is once again running a column that I thoroughly enjoy. Some people might find it as a surprise that the almighty and humongous ESPN actually has an ombudsman, or, for those who are not familiar with what an ombudsman is, a person within the company who keeps the organization honest. Of course there is much more to it. An ombudsman responds to reader’s complaints, investigates shady or careless displays of journalism, and offers up opinions that are many times critical of the company.
For a long time my favorite piece on espn.com was the ESPN Ombudsman. About every month or so I could expect that a new column would pop up, fresh with finger pointing and mud-slinging about the network’s recent coverage. All of ESPN’s different outlets came under fire from TV to radio to print. All employees came under the gun as well from Colin Cowherd to Skip Bayless to Stephen A. Smith to Jeremy Schapp to Rachel Nichols. And of course all the issues that ESPN covered from Tebow to Favre to ARod were dissected and scrutinized. I love ESPN and most likely could not live without it but I appreciate the fact that someone is watching over them and offering a well-written, well-reasoned critique.
However, something disturbing occurred over the past year or so. There was no ESPN Ombudsman. I could not understand. Had the enterprise become so big and so entitled that they felt they no longer needed to take on a little bit of heat? Well, who knows but thankfully the column is now back with a brand new ombudsman (his name is Robert Lipsyte, most recently of the New York Times). In his first column he took on ESPN’s coverage of Jason Collins and then just today he reviewed the constant Dwight Howard free agent escapade. I encourage you to follow the link and read a little bit. Make sure to go back in the archives and see what the other Ombudsmen did, especially Don Ohlmeyer (my favorite).
On July 4, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick wore a Miami Dolphins hat to a Fourth of July party. As is the case anywhere these days, a fan spotted him with the hat on, snapped a picture, and posted it to Twitter. Outrage ensued inside of 49ers Nation and Kaepernick was brutalized by the media.
I thought this initial act was a poor decision on his part. I am not going to take the broad approach that everyone seemed to take by comparing it on a larger scale (i.e. it is like wearing a Coke hat when working for Pepsi….like wearing a Progressive shirt when working for Geico…like wearing a Google pin when you work for Bing…etc. etc.) because I don’t think it needs to be compared on a larger scale to deem it ill advised. Rather, when playing or working for a certain team or school, it is just simply wrong to wear the apparel of a rival team/school…especially when your certain team is paying you millions of dollars. But for this instance, even though I disagree, I cut Kaepernick a little bit of slack because he was just chilling at a party and because a paparazzi fan took the photo.
HOWEVER, what he did next can be described as nothing but immature. Angered by critics and fans who called him out, Kaepernick took a picture of him holding the Miami Dolphins hat, wrote out a hostile and condescending message complete with classless hash tags, and then posted it to Instagram. Dumb. Stupid. Careless. Not only did he totally miss the opportunity to offer a quick apology, not only did he mock his fanbase, and not only did he make a face worse than any duck face I have ever seen, but he brought out the Miami Dolphins hat once again AND posted it on his OWN social media account.
Yesterday he posted another Instagram photo of him with a San Francisco 49ers hat. Some are considering it a half apology…I definitely wouldn’t go that far. Don’t Blink.