The sports world is abuzz today about the
firing muzzling indefinite suspension of college football writer Bruce Feldman by the Dark Powers at Barad-dûr ESPN. Twitter is alive with Feldman support, the #FreeBruce hashtag is now a trending topic, and the support from the sports media has been unanimous, loud, and is getting angrier by the hour.
John Clay has a rundown of some of the media coverage so far, including a profane but funny tirade by Buzz Bissinger (with the naughty words bleeped out of course).
As far as I have been able to determine, the facts are these:
- Former Kentucky assistant coach Mike Leach was fired as head football coach of Texas
A&MTech, in part for alleged mistreatment of players, including ESPN analyst Craig James' son, Adam James.
- Leach wrote a book entitled Swing Your Sword, which is critical of the elder James, accuses him of a conflict of interest and coloring ESPN's coverage of the Leach controversy.
- ESPN The Magazine's Bruce Feldman, a football writer, was given permission by the Worldwide Leader to assist Leach in the writing of his book;
- ESPN, and James in particular, were not fond of Leach's characterization of them as bad guys in the book, so they suspended Feldman.
Note that Feldman did not make the statements ESPN found so offensive, Leach did. Yet ESPN apparently suspended Feldman just for his participation in the book, participation for which Feldman reportedly received express permission from ESPN. That doesn't just sound dirty, that sounds over-the-top unconscionable, inexcusable, reprehensible ... well, let's just say what we mean here ... evil.
ESPN has yet to provide their side of the story. The world is waiting. The stakes are untold millions of dollars. Sponsors might flee to some degree if ESPN doesn't have a good defense -- this is every bit as unethical and wrong as Tiger Woods' adulterous affairs. The rest of the sports world will not forget it, nor will they let ESPN forget it unless they have a bang-up explanation.