Does Super Bowl Media Day pose a threat to serious journalism?

Super Bowl XLVI had many firsts. It may not appear so because it was a rematch of Super Bowl XLII, it was Tom Brady’s fifth appearance and there was another controversy over halftime entertainment. But there were still plenty of firsts.


To begin, Indianapolis hosted its inaugural Super Bowl; breaking from the warmer locations the game has been played in recent years (Arizona, Tampa, Miami, and Dallas have hosted the previous four, respectively). It also set the viewership record, becoming the most watched event in American television history (even though it was only a fraction of a percent more than last year).


It also allowed fans to attend the official media day for the first time.


For $25, fans could experience the chaotic, yet engaging, atmosphere that is Super Bowl Media Day.  There was restriction though and the boundaries that were set were logical. Attendees were not allowed to go on the field or interact with players and the media. The same went for the other way; the media and players were not allowed to approach the fans.


“We have twin objectives for media day,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told the Indianapolis Business Journal on the day of the event. “To ensure the media can get their job done and to bring fans closer to the game and players in a unique setting.”


Well said for a league that has developed into a cornerstone of American culture.


The part that appealed to me most was that McCarthy wanted “to ensure the media [got] their job done.” The Super Bowl today is no longer just a game; it’s an event of tremendous proportion. It appeals to almost all Americans, whether they enjoy football or not.


As a true NFL follower, it has previously irked me to see “fake” fans show up on the last day of the season. Where were you the rest of the year and why have you taken the best couch spot? However, I now realize how beneficial it is to the growth of the sport.


Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star disagrees. He reminisces how Super Bowl I issued only 338 credentials (opposed to the roughly 5,000 issued this year) and as a result, the reporting was more polished and professional. He may have a point there.


The Super Bowl Media Day has raised questions on whether or not serious journalism is practiced.


Media Day garners all types of stories. Some are moving. Others are irrelevant, such as one credentialed reporter who proposing to Tom Brady at the 2008 edition. The genuine reporters will find the legitimate stories though. ESPN’s Rachel Nichols’ interviewed Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who discussed his relationship with his blind father. He hadn’t been to one of his son’s games until this past Sunday. This feature is without a doubt serious journalism.


At the end of it all, it’s somewhat understandable why the veterans in this industry aren’t fond of the exclusivity fans have now. Perhaps it’s because seasoned journalists have worked so long to earn unparalleled access. Ultimately, the boundaries in place for fan, reporter, and player interaction, are strict enough for serious journalism to be accomplished.


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