Friday, July 15, 2011

ESPN Deserves Criticism For Bruce Feldman's Suspension (And No, I Don't Believe ESPN)

Sports journalists and fans were stunned yesterday by the news ESPN college football writer Bruce Feldman was suspended for contributions to former Texas Tech head coach Mike Leach's autobiography, Swing Your Sword.

SPORTSsbyBROOKS broke the story in detail:
Because of Leach’s acrimonious departure from Texas Tech, which allegedly stemmed from complaints about the coach’s alleged treatment of the son of ESPN college football analyst Craig James, Feldman’s participation in Swing Your Sword was not initially assured.

Multiple management and editorial sources at ESPN have told me in recent months that Feldman would only participate in the Leach book project upon direct approval from ESPN management - which Feldman indeed received.

Despite those facts, Feldman was told by ESPN... he was being suspended indefinitely for his participation in the Leach book.
The Swing Your Sword saga gets even murkier with details of ESPN's coverage, Joe Schad, Spaeth Communications, James' involvement behind-the-scenes and (not) being trapped in the closet.

SbB says the punishment was a ban from "writing for any ESPN entity, is forbidden from appearing on any ESPN platform, is not allowed to Tweet from his Twitter account nor participate in any promotion of a recently-released book in which Feldman played a role."

Reaction on Twitter was swift. "Bruce Feldman" and #freebruce was soon trending. Sportswriter from Yahoo!, and the blogosphere chimed in with praise for Feldman's professional and personal demeanor while criticizing ESPN's apparent decision to side with Craig James rather than a respected sportswriter.

This afternoon Sports Media Watch reported ESPN saying it never suspended Feldman, which seems dubious given the circumstances.

Bruce's active Twitter account, with over 6,500 tweets, has been eerily quiet since July 13. One would assume if he were able to freely speak and write Bruce would have addressed the situation -- even denied the SbB story if it were untrue. The fact he hasn't said anything speaks to the notion Feldman was muzzled by The Worldwide Leader.

And why the "no comment" from ESPN and silence from ESPN personalities on the subject since last night? If this was a non-story to begin with ESPN would have nipped it in the bud Thursday evening.

Instead it seems ESPN miscalculated public opinion would be this negative and the company is now trying to save face with a press release stating Feldman was never suspended. But the circumstances suggest otherwise.

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