Love them or hate them. Both President Trump and LaVar Ball are good for journalism. On one hand, President Trump and all the baggage that comes along with his presidency has brought back investigative journalism. The more he screams fake news– the more the public wants real news. Newspapers such as the New York Times and Washington Post are seeing record subscriptions since he became president.
On the other hand, Lavar Ball’s impact on the media is different. Even though many chastise him for the stuff he says, we can’t get enough of him. Ball’s antics may be unfavorable, but the amount of press he’s getting is unprecedented. The more we cover his every move the more valuable he becomes. What’s interesting is Lavar isn’t even a basketball player. His sons are. The old saying goes, “Any press is good press.” In terms of both Trump and Ball, this seems to be true.
Why is Lavar Ball so good for Journalism?
Money. Simply put. Networks are aware of the monetary benefits of having him on their shows. Whether he’s making outlandish statements about Kobe and Jordan, telling a journalist to stay in her lane, or doing anything else it’’s “newsworthy.”
A great example of this is what transpired on Fox Sports 1 on the Colin Cowherd Show. A week or so prior to coming on The Herd, Ball was the topic of the day. Kristine Leahy and Jason Whitlock gave their perspectives on the Big Baller Band. Rightfully so, as members of the media, both are entitled to criticize any one in and around sports. Yet, they are supposed to remain objective while they do so. Which it is fair to say they were.
Even before then, Leahy had made comments about how “scared” Lonzo Ball looked and that Lavar probably approves of any girl that Lonzo would potentially date. All of this fueling what could end up being must watch TV later in the Spring. Lavar appeared on The Herd and showed complete disregard for Colin’s co-host, Leahy. At one point, he told her to “stay in her lane” and that he would only address Cowherd.
— Big Baller Brand (@bigballerbrand) May 25, 2017
This sparked a debate as to whether or not Lavar Ball was disrespectful and some went as far as calling him sexist. Leahy even said she felt threatened by Ball. At the same time, she gave guidelines on how she would want things to go if Ball were to appear on the show again. Which begs the question, why would someone who feels threatened want to be in the same room again with the person that made them feel that way? However, that’s a conversation for another day.
Lavar Ball = Money
— Big Baller Brand (@bigballerbrand) May 25, 2017
This is exactly why Lavar Ball is so good for journalism, specifically sports journalism. The hot takes and talking points are endless. Not to mention the nonstop coverage and the number of clicks, views, and traffic to websites. Retweets, shares, and engagements across multiple social media platforms are record setting anytime he’s the topic of discussion. Cowherd mentioned this on his own show the next day.
— Herd w/Colin Cowherd (@TheHerd) May 18, 2017
“You drive the bus,” he said to his audience. He went on to mention how when Ball was on his show a digital record was set. Then his next appearance broke that record. In other words, Lavar Ball equals money. The more and more he’s on networks talking about being Lavar the more profitable he becomes. Why is this problematic?
Creating Monsters then reporting them:
We the media, continually give him a platform when it’s not necessary. Lavar Ball is nothing more than a helicopter-parent who has a soccer-mom mentality. He believes his kids are the greatest people to ever play basketball. While that may be preposterous, he’s a good parent in the same respect. In the black community, so often many families are without father figures. So, having Lavar around his sons and supporting them is ideal.
The problem is we continue to report everything he says as if it’s newsworthy. Perhaps the things he says are, but we certainly made it that way. Every parent believes their child is the best, or will be the best at whatever their child is doing. If you are the parents of a future journalist, you want your child to be the next Walter Cronkite or Peter Jennings. However, that doesn’t make them quotable.
We saw it happen in this previous election. Your average person couldn’t tell you about which candidate had the best policies for the country moving forward. Most can only remember Hillary’s emails, and the candid comments from President Trump. At one point, many believed that either way, Hillary or Trump, there wasn’t a difference. At the time, none of the mainstream media did their jobs, highlighting what’s best for the country.
Trump = money.
Bringing it all together:
Every round table discussion and debate on cable news networks were about Trump’s comments. Surrogates from both parties arguing about their candidates almost made one feel as though they were watching vintage Jerry Springer episodes. Now, after he’s elected the media are deciding to do their jobs and are investigating everything involving Trump and holding this administration accountable.
That’s always been the role of the media. However, profits got in the way of that and now the public doesn’t have a clue what to believe. This lack of trust is on us as the media.
Trump’s presidency has brought back real journalism and major newspapers are seeing the benefits of that. Lavar Ball, someone we created, is keeping the “basketball country” in the “world” of sports journalism going. This NBA post-season hasn’t been interesting at all. Not many good, juicy topics to talk about.
Imagine this. What if FS1 convinced Lavar to come back on The Herd wearing his newly released “Stay in Your Lane” shirt while Leahy is sitting there with Colin. It could easily become the most watched show on the network. If that happens, we must remember we created that.
We’ve flooded the airways with Lavar. Unfortunately, we haven’t provided the country with actual news about the other prospects. Let’s talk about Jayson Tatum and how his shooting has improved. Or anything about Markelle Fultz. Perhaps, let’s talk about Lonzo Ball, does the public even know anything about Lonzo besides who is dad is?
This our responsibility. Maybe we should do our job.