Jeremy Lin, A Victim of Too Much Media Coverage

Jeremy Lin, A Victim of Too Much Media Coverage

Indulging in the Friday night fun that Chicago’s River North neighborhood has to offer, I found myself among several 20-something-year-olds glued to a flat screen TV at The Kerryman while Sportcenter ran highlights from the Knicks-Hornets game. The Knicks lost for the first time since Mike D’Antoni named Jeremy Lin his starting point guard seven games prior. Lin had 26 points, 5 assists, and 9 turnovers, 8 of which he gave away in the first half. As soon as those numbers were flashed onto the screen, along with the 85-89 results, by ESPN, the bar’s sound system was immediately drowned out by shouted expletives and filled by middle fingers all directed toward Lin. I was and wasn’t surprised by that reaction. The national coverage of “Linsanity” has been shoved down the typical sports fan’s throat so hard, that he or she can’t help but spew annoyance and anger. Unfortunately, Lin has become an innocent victim to the fame and hype that has been packaged by the likes of the New York media, ESPN, and other national outlets.

Lin’s story alone is remarkable. He’s a Harvard graduate who was also an undrafted free agent to the NBA a year ago. He bounced around between the Association and the D-League multiple times, was Golden State’s version of Brian Scalabrine, and made his way to a reserve roster spot with the New York Knicks. Before he was almost cut for a 3rd time during his short career, Lin was called to start due to the rest of the roster being plagued by injuries. And so began the rise of Linsanity. During the Knicks’ 7 game win-streak bringing them back into playoff contention, Lin averaged 24.4 points per game and 9 assists per game.  Despite the current record of the teams defeated in the streak combined being  84-136 (12-19 on average) and Lin setting a franchise record of consecutive games with 6+ turnovers, “Linsanity” spread through the national media faster than “Tebowmania”. Thus the beginning of where the coverage of Lin went too far…

A little over a week into Jeremy Lin’s fame building steam, ESPN began comparing Lin to Tim Tebow. The only thing the two truly have in common is the fact they are devout Christians. Lin’s story is that of a true underdog and before finally getting his start in the NBA, was an absolute mystery. We knew what Tebow was coming into the season. Tebow was a Heisman trophy winner, a national champion and a 1st round draft pick. Tebow appeared in an anti-abortion commercial, was given the starting quarterback job by the pressure of an ignorant and restless Denver fan base, and has been justifiably regarded as the most polarizing professional athlete in sports today. Lin has played beyond himself and has produced at the level of a superstar in a game that can be dictated by an individual. Tebow is a sub-par (sometimes average) quarterback in the ultimate team sport, where wins are dependent of the whole team (offense/defense/special teams). Kurt Warner, on the otherhand, was bagging groceries and playing arena football before he became a Super Bowl winning quarterback throwing with the best in the NFL. Warner’s story would have made a much more effective comparison to what Lin has accomplished. But Lin has still received more attention in two weeks than Warner ever received during his 12 seasons in the league.

On a weekly basis, Deadspin.com keeps track of how often an athlete, team, and league is mentioned during SportCenter’s 11pm ET broadcast over the course of the week. They call it “Bristolmetrics.” Just last week, Lin’s name was used 350 times. That is more often than either “if” or “but” were used. For an hour a day, five days during the regular week, Lin was mentioned nearly once a minute. To add perspective to the absurdity of the amount of coverage dedicated to Lin here are the other athletes and figures whose names were used and how often they were mentioned:

Jeremy Lin: 350 mentions

LeBron James: 70
Tiger Woods: 61
Peyton Manning: 56
Phil Mickelson: 46
Kobe Bryant: 44
Blake Griffin: 42
Carmelo Anthony: 37
Amar'e Stoudemire: 32
Dwyane Wade: 30
Chris Paul: 26
Jim Irsay: 24
Rajon Rondo: 23
Tim Tebow: 22
Randy Moss: 20

*according to Deadspin.com

Lin was mentioned 5 times as often as LeBron James and over 280 times more than his Knicks teammates, Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire, combined. It seems that ESPN and the national media are repeating their format used for Tebow, making Lin the only story with the assumption that the audiences want that as well.

Making those assumptions have really tarnished the credibility of a network that was originated for sports highlights and news, and is now nothing more than hype and advertising. Lin didn’t ask for the attention. He’s just playing basketball. But the attention has hurt the credibility of those commenting on the matter, even those who have nothing to do with the sport of basketball. Northwestern head football coach Pat Fitzgerald made this tweet just a week ago:

“@coachfitz51: There's finally a NBA player who plays hard and says the right things off the court”

Apparently Coach Fitzgerald forgot about another superstar in Chicago with a reputation in the league for being humble and playing harder than anyone on the floor night in and night out, but that’s beside the point.

As I mentioned earlier, what Lin has done with his opportunity in the NBA is extremely admirable. Even after a reckless performance turning over the ball against New Orleans, Lin made the adjustments to defeat the defending champion Dallas Mavericks the next game. Lin scored 28 points and had 14 assists to lead the Knicks on national television. He still turned the ball over 7 times, and that is a reasonable concern for criticism. However, nothing Lin himself has done warrants the hate I saw at the bar Friday night or on social media which is always so prevalent. If you wish to direct your frustrations and displeasure somewhere, I recommend taking aim at the people gushing over Lin so often that it makes you gag. If you are feeling suffocated by the coverage simply change the channel. Nothing gets a message across better than bad ratings.

Comments

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  • Mr. Piff:

    Clearly you don't know Tebow that well. By stating that Tebow is sub-par you have stated that the President of the Broncos, John Elway has no clue.

    Lets take a look at the facts :

    Tim Tebow had a better passing rating than either Cam Newton or Michael Vick . The Broncos’ quarterback had a passer rating of 83.6, while Newton is at 82.6 and Vick is at 80.6.

    Most yards per completion in a playoff game: 31.6 against Pittsburgh in 2012.

    Most yards per completion in a playoff game: 31.6 against Pittsburgh in 2012.

    Most 30+ yard passes in a playoff quarter: Tebow was the first NFL player ever to complete four passes of 30 yards or more in a single quarter of an NFL playoff game, with 51, 30, 58, & 40. And this was against the 2011-2012 Pittsburgh Steelers rated #1 in defense in the NFL in various, especially relevant categories.

    Fewest passes to 300+ yards in any NFL game: According to the authoritative Bleacher Report, Tim Tebow is the only quarterback in the Super Bowl era to throw for 300+ yards in only ten completions.

    Only quarterback to throw three 50+ yard passes in a playoff game: since the NFL/AFL merger in 1970 according to Bleacher Report for 51, 58, & 80.

    Longest touchdown pass in NFL playoff history in overtime: 80 yards, and in the shortest overtime play, 11 seconds, almost a minute quicker than any previous NFL postseason overtime.

    Fastest to six game-winning drives: Against the Chicago Bears, Tim Tebow earned a Super Bowl-era NFL league record with his sixth game-winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime in just his first eleven games!

    13+ Point Fourth-Quarter Comebacks: By way of comparison, John Elway, two-time Super Bowl winner, second “most-winningest” NFL quarterback ever, one of the NFL’s all-time comeback kings with a great combination of game winning drives and fourth-quarter comebacks who earned his sixth fourth-quarter comeback after 29 games, had won after trailing in the fourth quarter by 13+ points twice in 16 seasons. For this amazing Tebow NFL record, he overcame a 13 or more point deficit in the fourth quarter twice in his only first four games.

    Most yards per attempt in a playoff game: Tebow threw for 15 yards per attempt against the Steelers.

    Best-selling NFL Jersey: Tebow’s #15 became the best-selling NFL jersey when he was drafted, the best-selling ever for a rookie, and has remained among the highest-selling jerseys and in January 2012 is second only to Green Bay’s 2011 super bowl winner Aaron Rodgers. [Other Very UNRELATED Jersey Record: See below for $10,000 paid by Bob and Doug for two football jerseys.]

    And in no way could I overstate the tenacity of Mr. Tebow as well.

    This list doesn’t even include his amazing college record.
    Lin has played beyond himself and has produced at the level of a superstar in a game that can be dictated by an individual. Tebow is a sub-par (sometimes average) quarterback in the ultimate team sport,

    Every Blackhawks, (and dare I say, hockey fan on the planet ) in Chicago should want you fired for that remark because it directly speaks to your gross incompetence as a "sports writer".

    And YOU claim to be a sports writer ?..LOL !!! Puhlleeeeeeze...

  • "Lin has played beyond himself and has produced at the level of a superstar in a game that can be dictated by an individual. Tebow is a sub-par (sometimes average) quarterback in the ultimate team sport,"

    I neglected to note that this should be a quote AND separate paragraph from the pointless article written attributed to Michael Piff.

  • In reply to DevilsPrinciple:

    I'm sorry but jersey sales and numbers from one playoff game (where many have acknowledged that the Steelers were just asking to be beat with their coverage schemes) do not measure any greatness in my eyes for an NFL starting quarterback. DevilsPrinciple, I appreciate you reading and reacting. Best thing about your response is the fact that you represent the completely opposite end of the polarized Tebow argument which I've talked about. But tell me, where was your Tebow in the playoff game against New England? He and his offense made the Patriots' second-to-last ranked defense look like the the squad the Steelers were suppose to be.

    Not really sure why "Blackhawks" fans should come after me or why that has anything to do with my competence as a writer. Not once is hockey even mentioned in this piece. Thanks for giving my blog a web hit regardless.

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