Originally, I thought it was an overreaction. I thought it was just a bunch of whining by people living on the West Coast and displaced fans that had moved to the East Coast who couldn’t watch their favorite teams any more.
I was wrong.
And now, I have proof there is an East Coast bias in the sports media.
Here’s a hypothetical situation that will demonstrate my point. Say that, on a given night, the worst team and the best team are playing late in the season. At the same time, two teams that are tied atop their division are facing off. Which game would you rather watch?
Unless you specifically care about either the worst team or the best team, the clear choice is the two teams fighting for their playoff lives.
Yet for some reason, the people at ESPN missed this obvious answer. Wednesday night, baseball fans could watch the Yankees play the hapless Tigers, but could not watch the Twins and White Sox battle for the Central Division crown. There can be only one explanation: the East Coast bias on the part of ESPN.
Now before all the East Coasters attempt to explain this away, either by calling the Central “mediocre” or by saying that more people want to watch the Yankees, let’s look at this objectively. First of all, the White Sox and the Twins have the two best records since the All-Star break. Secondly, outside of New Yorkers and New Yorker wannabes, (yes, I mean all you Jersey natives), no one wants to watch the Yankees. That includes the rest of the East Coast.
And seriously, will someone tell the Jersey kids that they aren’t from New York? Just because you live near New York or your parents work in New York, that doesn’t make you from New York. Have some state pride for God’s sake. Though, of course, I do understand wanting to pretend you’re from somewhere else, seeing as how your state is just one big freeway between Philly and NYC. C’mon, at least follow one of the two teams in your state.
Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, let’s get back to the original topic: the East Coast bias. In case you haven’t noticed, the last couple of years, the East Coast hasn’t really accomplished all that much in the world of sports. The baseball, college football, NFL and NBA champions all hailed from non-East Coast areas. Heck, the Eastern Conference doesn’t even matter anymore in the NBA. In case you’re wondering, Florida is not East Coast. East Coast starts at the ason-Dixon Line and goes north. Yes, Syracuse and the New Jersey Devils won their respective championships, but since no one in Jersey actually cares about the Devils, they don’t count. It’s that whole state pride thing again.
Yet the East Coast teams and players are continually forced on the rest of the country like a badly designed dining hall on an unsuspecting college population.
Would you like another example?
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Jeremy Shockey. Best young tight end, right? Maybe even the best tight end in the league? Try an overrated loud mouth with a penchant for dropping playoff-game clinching touchdowns. He couldn’t even catch as many touchdowns (two) as Keyshawn Johnson (five), another product of the East Coast hype machine. Todd Heap had basically the same stats with four more touchdowns and three less fumbles. Tony Gonzalez is still years ahead of Shockey. But hey, Shockey plays for the Giants – everyone in New York and the Freeway State loves him, so everyone else must too. Or, they wish he’d go the way of John Rocker, meaning disappear never to be heard or seen (the whole WWF look just isn’t working for him) again.
Yes, I’m a little bitter at not being able to see my beloved Twins battle the White Sox. The sad thing is, however, I’m right about the East Coast bias. The Western half of the country doesn’t get any respect, especially the Midwest. The media is based on the East Coast and thus they assume the East Coast is more important. When you factor in the three-hour time difference between the coasts that leads to most West Coast contests finishing long after the East Coast is asleep, it becomes clear. There’s an East Coast bias. It may not be intentional, and it may not be preventable.
But couldn’t they have at least shown the Twins game?