Friday, December 08, 2006

I Guess Market Dominance Isn't Enough

ESPN strikes again. I detailed my disgust for the World Wide Leader in a recent post, but I feel compelled to bring the topic up again in light of a recent controversy surrounding ESPN writer Scoop Jackson.

In case you haven't heard by now, Jackson wrote a column about being the new NBA basketball. A few people linked to it and sent it to me, some with comments saying it was funny, others that it was abhorrent. Since it was an ESPN column, I ignored it and continued my boycott of all content. At the time, I had no idea what was actually in the column, but the idea of a basketball telling his own story in the first person felt strangely familiar.

Want to know why? Because someone already came up with it, that's why. The terrific NBA blog YAY Sports already wrote that story. In fact, they have developed quite a back story for what has become an actual copyrighted character by the name of Orange Roundie.

On the YAY blog, the concept is well-down and evokes some laughs and no doubt Scoop Jackson thought the same thing, because he straight up jacked it and used it for a Page 2 column (insert your "scooped the idea" joke here). Not only that, but he also used the name "Orange Roundie" in the story, which is at the very least highly unethical and quite possibly a form of copyright infringement. In doing so, he basically admitted to stealing the entire concept, because how could he mention that a website had named it "Orange Roundie" and then expect us to believe that he somehow gleaned the nickname without seeing the context in which it was used? That would be like me writing a movie about a demented cab driver named Travis Bickle, saying I got the name from "a movie," and then trying to convince you that I didn't steal Taxi Driver. Okay, that was probably a bad example, but you get the idea. The use of the name is bad, but even worse is that it tips off the fact that he used the whole bag of goodies.

You can read about all this over at YAY, but to make matters worse, Jackson told Deadspin to convey a message to YAY that goes something along the lines of "Tell those guys that I'm sorry, but hey, at least I mentioned those little bloggers in my column." Like he's handing out crumbs from on high. Really? Scoop Jackson is going to make someone's year by including them in one of his rambling bits or prose? I think not.

Anyway, what really bothers me here is that this seems to be the kind of thing that would happen at ESPN more than anywhere else. The network and website believe themselves to be above all else in sports media and this entitlement leads to bizarre situations and a skewed view of how things are supposed to work. There is a Mafia-like regime in place that stomps out even the slightest criticism from within (see: the Jason Whitlock situation), that makes arbitrary decisions about what type of conduct is allowed (see: the treatment of Harold Reynolds versus that of Michael Irvin), and that projects an attitude of superiority that makes the likes of Microsoft seem like nothing more than a meek manufacturer of computer products. So a writer stealing an idea from a "lowly blog," using it as his own, and then hiding behind ESPN's shield of protection is in keeping with the general feel of the website.

Thus, the boycott continues. And this post is an effort to spread the word. Scoop Jackson is a condescending hack who steals other people's ideas and then posts them on a website that believes itself to be superior to anything and everything else in sports media. Pass it along.

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