Culture of Hoops

Marshawn Lynch and the Petulant Media

Image courtesy of Matt McGee/Flickr

Image courtesy of Matt McGee/Flickr

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The sports media world has been chasing its own tail for nearly four months dissecting the decision by Marshawn Lynch to say as little as possible to the media. Lynch has been fined multiple times by the National Football League for choosing not to comply with the league’s media policy, and skewered by the media for not giving them quotes. Lynch has also defiantly chosen to wear gold cleats (going against the league’s uniform policy), and grabbed his crotch during highlight plays.

The argument goes that Marshawn Lynch is obligated to act with grace and speak to the media as a professional athlete; not doing so disrespects reporters who are simply trying to do their job, and sets a bad example for those who look up to the athlete.


“All I’m saying to you is that, what kind of a message are we sending if you stand by and give people the impression, not only that that is okay, but more importantly than that that society will allow you to get away with it. They won’t. You’re not Marshawn Lynch.” – Stephen A. Smith

Fact: The media picks who is held to a higher standard and who is not. Case in point.

Preferential treatment exists in all media. That’s not shocking but this indictment of Lynch is blown way out of proportion. Think about this: On February 20, 2014, Marshawn Lynch pleaded guilty to reckless driving to end a DUI case stemming from an arrest in July 2012. This plea came after Lynch’s national profile grew from last year’s Super Bowl. Lynch is getting more blowback for not speaking to the media than he received for his DUI case. By any measure, that’s stupid. This week alone features several examples of NFL personnel cheating during games or getting arrested, yet hardly any of it is getting coverage.

That’s just from this week and I haven’t even mentioned a New England Patriots’ ball boy. Actual cheating and crimes get less attention than simply not speaking to the media. The needle is definitely pointing in the wrong direction.

Most athletes aren’t even saying anything when they do speak. Derek Jeter, one of the finest to ever wear pinstripes, was the king of saying a lot of words but telling us nothing at all. We know more about Michael Jordan’s political views than we do about Jeter. He gave a bunch of nondescript answers about putting the team first and people act like he’s a speaker on par with President Obama. The other extreme is LeBron James who also says a lot, but does so to drive narratives.


LeBron knew exactly what he was doing when he spoke to Dwyane Wade about reuniting while closely surrounded by cameras after the Christmas Day game. James has chosen to give the media talking points and control his story (read here for more thoughts on James’ media manipulation).

The relationship between athletes and media is partially symbiotic but the athletes are often at the mercy of others when it comes to how their words are interpreted. Lynch chose to speak with his actions, so yeah, grabbing his crotch and not speaking to the media is a message of sorts. Lynch could be more cooperative during interview attempts but becoming more combative in columns is surely not going to quell his attitude.

Everyone is being petty in the Lynch situation. What’s that going to teach the kids?

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