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It's "Bash That Sportswriter" Thursday at A Sea of Blue!

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A couple of weeks after writing this ridiculous article, which I and others more skilled than me thoroughly castigated, Gary Parrish at CBS figures that writing articles critical of SEC schools must be good for his readership, so he comes back with this beauty.

First of all, a bit of a disclaimer.  Gary Parrish is going to get a lot of heat here, but he is by no means the worst or only offender.  Wherever you see words referring to him, you can easily substitute such worthies as Gregg Doyel, Michael Wilbon or Jeff Goodman.  So please, this is not a screed just blasting Parrish -- this is aimed at a good number of mainstream sportswriters out there.

As many readers have probably figured out, I am experiencing a bit of frustration with the national sports media at the moment.  Kentucky never seems to be mentioned in any light other than a negative one, and as a Kentucky partisan, that irritates me.  In the instant case, Parrish manages not only to tell us our basketball team will suck next year (as close as he gets to honesty), but also that our overzealous, whacked-out fans are to stupid to breathe his good air, and on top of all that, we forced poor Tubby Smith to run off to the frozen basketball gulag of Minnesota with his tail between his legs (probably because he was you-know-what).

I know, I know -- I am tilting at windmills again, giving douchebags (now there is a word I rarely get to use) like Parrish more hits, blah, blah, blah.  One of the beauties of running your own blog, and one of the great pleasures of blogging, is taking on the douchebags of the world, even when you wind up giving them more attention than they deserve.  If we ignore all the petty insults couched as "thoughtful" editorial writing, it's true we may not be giving said douchebag the cold shoulder he/she has so richly earned.  But a famous saying, "He who is silent is understood to consent" keeps ringing in my ears, and frankly, being silent is something I'm just not very good at.

So back to our old buddy, Gary.  I am wondering why, after so many pixels have been darkened and words uttered by the principles actually involved, so many in the national media find it necessary to essentially insist that Smith, Barnhart et. al. are all liars and that the University of Kentucky ran Tubby Smith out of town on a rail.  Yes, many fans were fed up with Smith.  Yes, some of those fed-up fans were outrageously offensive in their criticism.  Yes, Smith won 76% of his games at Kentucky, and got us to the NCAA tournament 10 times out of 10 tries, with one national championship.  All these things are true.  But none of those facts makes the "he was run out of Kentucky" statement true.

My problem is that the meme "Smith was pressured, forced, under duress, compelled, shoved, railroaded, thrown under the bus, thrown over the side, ejected, hurried, harried, expelled, disgorged," or any of probably 100 more ways you can say "run off" is just plain wrong.  Now, when someone writes something that is demonstrably false, something they should intellectually know is incorrect but that they repeatedly assert anyway in the face of facts to the contrary, it makes me wonder a bit about their agenda.  Parrish's is transparently mercenary, merely an effort to move up in the ranks of sports journalists.  Still, should a sportswriter not be taken to task for deceptive and blatantly exploitative commentary?

Smith was under pressure from the fans, but as far as anyone knows, he was not under serious duress from the university.  Despite Mitch Barnhart's tepid statement of support in the face of a barrage of media questions about Smith's future, nobody familiar with the situation seriously believes Barnhart ever considered firing Smith.  Smith was certainly going to be given an opportunity to improve, and the fact that not one of his former coaching staff is now with him in Minnesota suggests staff changes were never a bone of contention, despite repeated media (and even some intransigent UK fans') assertions to the contrary.

So why do sportswriters keep assuring us that Smith was "forced out" or even "fired?"  I can only assume it is because they have given up trying to be serious, ethical journalists and have decided the way to get ahead is to write inflammatory, deliberately provocative nonsense just to vex large segments of school partisans.  I am wondering -- is that what we as fans really want to consume?

Does it seem to you that thoughtful, ethical commentary has largely been abandoned by the national sports media in favor of overblown, almost political rhetoric?  I came out of political blogging and into sports blogging because the political world had largely cast aside reason for the madness of partisan doggerel.  So is Parrish trying to become the next Bill O'Reilly or Keith Olberman?  I understand Olberman came from ESPN -- perhaps that is who Parrish wants to be when he grows up.  Good luck with that, Gary.

Anyway, Parrish has managed to get my Irish up (even though I'm Scottish), and if you check the comments on the article, you will find several responses more thoughtfully written than Parrish's tripe.  One must certainly wonder about the judgment of Parrish's employers when us "overzealous" redneck morons from Kentucky can compose more thoughtful and reasonable commentary than a guy who gets paid to do so.  

But it seems CBS prefers it if their sportswriters abandon whatever the sportswriter definition of "journalistic ethics" is in pursuit of hits on their web page.  I can certainly admire the capitalistic instinct, if not the actual method of execution.

Dannyboykn at Kentucky Wildcat Report seems to be on the same page as I am, but with much fewer words.