You can likely add CBS Sports to the growing list of media outlets on the outside looking in at the boys club that is granted media access to UFC and Strikeforce events after publishing a scathing editorial today. The piece, entitled, “Calling out UFC is a losing fight, but it’s time to step into the cage,” ironically, focused on Zuffa’s heavy-handed press bans handed out when stories such as his get published and the disparity between the company’s gross revenues and total yearly fighter salaries.
As the writer Gregg Doyel, who admits to being a relatively new fan and reporter of the sport mentions, he is hopeful that things don’t change between him and Dana since he has been approved for a press pass for the next Strikeforce show and is remaining optimistic that he’ll still receive his promised media credentials. Take it from us, it ain’t gonna happen.
Although we applaud a reporter who isn’t afraid to exercise his or her right to freedom of speech and the press at the risk of ruffling a few feathers, expecting that writing an open letter to Zuffa mostly based on hearsay and conjecture in which you chastise its business practices isn’t going to have your cageside seat to shows taken away in the future is foolhardy. Especially when posting crude snapshots of one of the company’s employees from a magazine will get you banned for life.
The rules are simple: Sites that toe the line are allowed on the court to play the game, at least until they run afoul.
The UFC is possibly the only sports league that uses a reward and punishment system to ensure that unsavory stories aren’t written about the company or its athletes, but there isn’t anything you can do when you’ve been given a yellow card by the organization, so its rare to see the Hunts, Gross’, Goldmans and Doyels who are willing to risk losing their seat at the adult table in return for sitting on their scruples, which makes it more respectable when it does happen.
Rarely will you see “mainstream” MMA outlets report on stories that may cast Zuffa in a negative light even if it is newsworthy which garners them the reputation of being Zuffa shill sites or hype machines.
For some “reporters” being granted access to an event equates to having better seats and having access to athletes and their parties during fight week. While an event is live, these “so-called MMA journalists” as they’ve been called, are nowhere to be found as they are usually off skipping the lines to get autographs and beer from the concession stands. Still, because they have written about the promotion in a positive light, they have been rewarded with a laminated golden ticket that they can hang on the wall of their office and tweet photos of to let the masses know that they know how to play the game and are a bonafide journo.
We’re not saying that the plot holes in Doyel’s murder mystery shouldn’t be addressed.
Basically he just rehashed bits of conjecture stitched together with second-hand reports of purported shady business practices perpetrated by the Zuffa machine. Old news that has likely been injected with several erroneous details as it was recuscitated and passed around. Without hard facts, legit quotes and FTC documents, the story is really just a non-story that seems more of a ,”You need to shape up or we’re through,” kind of break-up letter from a jilted lover than a report by a journalist. We’ve all seen how those have ended and it’s never good.
I can’t help but wonder if this has less to do with the author’s disappointment with Zuffa and more to do with the recent purchase of the UFC’s biggest rival by a member of CBS owner Sumner Redstone’s family of companies. Viacom purchased Bellator in October 2011. Whatever the impetus of the story was, Doyel picked a fight with Zuffa.
Unfortunately, as he pointed out with his headline before writing a single paragraph, it’s a fight you can’t win.