If I’ve ever had a “get on my nerves” moment, it happened this week.
Pete Thamel and Dan Wetzel published an article via Yahoo! Sports (I’m not including the link to it because I don’t want it to get any more views than it already has) speaking sort of on topic about the recent scandal in college basketball. The following is my opinion on this dumpster fire of an article.
The headline reads “Roy Williams has 'amnesia' when it comes to college basketball's seedy underworld.” Stop right there. Why is North Carolina Men’s Basketball Head Coach, Roy Williams, being thrown into an article about a college basketball pay for play scandal in which neither he nor his programs at Kansas or North Carolina were implicated? That is already a red flag for me. But it gets worse. As Turner Walston of Argyle Report pointed out, the article presents a narrative that Williams is “playing dumb” about the underpinnings of the college basketball world, including this scheme uncovered by the FBI. Thamel and Wetzel take a high-caliber coach at a major college basketball program and use his name to promote an agenda that he supposedly knows more than he’s letting on, or even lying. It’s absurd and patently false.
Thamel and Wetzel’s main source in their piece is Myron Piggie, a former drug dealer and convicted felon turned AAU coach. Piggie plead guilty in 2000 to defrauding four universities and the NCAA in a highly publicized scheme. Thamel and Wetzel then go on to mention JaRon Rush, a highly touted recruit out of Kansas City in the late '90s/early 2000s of whom Piggie paid $5,000 not to play for Williams when he was at Kansas, as Walston also points out. In fact, Williams has pulled out of recruiting campaigns at Kansas and North Carolina because of pay for play schemes, according to The Topeka Capital-Journal. Thamel and Wetzel fail to include these highly imperative facts in their article. Surprise, surprise.
Perhaps even more infuriating than all of this, however, is that Thamel and Wetzel choose to mention current Tar Heel Basketball sophomore, Shea Rush, in their article. For seemingly no reason at all other than that he is JaRon’s son. Rush had always dreamed of playing for Roy Williams and Carolina. He went to basketball camps, worked hard and walked on to the team as a freshman. He was just awarded a scholarship by Williams in September. As Adam Lucas said in the Carolina Insider podcast today, how do you think Rush feels when he sees his name in an article about pay for play schemes and Myron Piggie claiming that Roy Williams has “amnesia” about it all? Especially given the fact that Shea has absolutely nothing to do with the events implicated in the article.
That's where I draw the line. In my view, it's atrocious that Thamel and Wetzel, so-called "professionals" in the field of sports writing, would think that mentioning Shea Rush by name was a good idea. In fact, it's repugnant to implicate him when he has worked his tail off to play at his dream school.
Why did they do this? For one reason and one reason only: click bait. Plain and simple. This is not journalism and it aggravates me that Thamel and Wetzel have jobs writing garbage such as this article while I cannot even break through the industry as an aspiring writer/journalist myself. Heck, I’m lucky to get 1,000 pageviews on my blog in a month. Unfortunately, this is what the industry has turned to: who can get the most clicks, the most views, or that “shock and awe” reaction. It’s appalling and, if I ever work get the chance in the industry professionally, I will not sink so low as to write a putrid, waste of space article just for the clicks.