First, on Knight, presented without comment:
ESPN sees that system as a necessary compromise given the reality of the sports world’s big salaries and big egos, and we have a fair amount of sympathy for their dilemma. But it means ESPN has to be very careful about policing that system — and making clear what is and is not acceptable.
That’s particularly true given the overlap in roles between ESPN’s star analysts and its journalists. Analysts don’t necessarily have to be rigorously objective — as ESPN’s journalists do — but they do have to be fair, and professional in how they treat their subjects. Sports bona fides don’t preclude ESPN’s celebrity analysts from doing excellent work for viewers and readers; many of them do. But if that work is unfair or unprofessional, it besmirches the work of ESPN journalists who have to live by different rules.
And now Martin, also sans comment from the peanut gallery:
Journalists and other ESPN employees sit on a perch of influence. So they have an enormous reach. They should take that role seriously. When you become part of the story, you lose your ability to tell an independent story. Although it seems sympathetic, and even morally superior, to offer up a political commentary, leave that to the athletes – many, including members of the Miami Heat, showed support for Martin — and, instead, find a way to help the audience better understand the story. (ESPN NBA columnist Michael Wallace wrote about the Heat sending a message of support for Martin last weekend).