Any big basketball fan, of either the college or professional ranks, knows that there are two different worlds to look to when trying to find a player report.
There are the reputable, well-known sources like ESPN, Scouts Inc., and Rivals, which is where the antagonist of this story, John Carroll, is based. And then there is the seemingly endless world of the less professional “scouts,” mostly amateurs, who fill up message boards online about any team you can think of.
Thursday night, Deadspin came out with a very interesting story about an instance earlier on Tuesday in which those two worlds collided, and probably not in the way you’d expect.
As a die hard fan and sports columnist/blogger, I know first hand that the primary place to look for source material and insight when composing a piece of your own is to the famous names whose work you already look to daily.
But in this instance, John Carroll, an NBA scout for ESPN (Scouts Inc.), plagiarized from SpursTalk.com when giving his preview of the Los Angeles Clippers vs. San Antonio Spurs Western Conference Semi-Finals series.
If you visit the story on Deadspin, they do a great job separating different parts in which blatant copying is clear. It’s not just a brief sentence here and there. It’s large chunks of writing in several different places.
If he was just looking for Spurs stats, he could have visited ESPN’s database. If he was looking for opinions, a less mainstream site like SpursTalk could be a great place to go, but just to get some ideas brewing. Carroll, however, didn’t stop at that. He took it a step further by taking those fan’s phrasings verbatim, barely changing them at all in most cases.
I know many of us bigger fans constantly watch ESPN and other networks’ sports shows and wonder if these guys really know about everything they talk about that much more than we do. Are they really qualified and wise enough to supply us with sports thoughts and opinions?
Due to the fact that I study sports broadcasting and have an immense amount of respect for the field, I think they do deserve the opportunity to impress their thoughts upon us. Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to monitor all actions, like those of Carroll – who is also the former Boston Celtics interim head coach.
It really gets you thinking about how often things like this happen.
Similar to this example, there could be tons of sports “experts” out there who do similar things to this but are much more discrete and sneaky with their paraphrasing.
Often, the media’s opinions weigh a bit heavier on fans’ minds than I think they should. So I think the main takeaway from this Deadspin story should not be that a huge investigation into things like this is needed, because there probably is next to no need for that.
Rather, the lesson is to trust your gut instinct more often than not with your predictions, opinions, and so forth. Don’t let media members make them for you.
If you think your favorite NBA team got the steal of the decade in the 2nd round of the draft, you don’t have to back away from that claim just because there’s a story on ESPN about how bad that player will turn out. Say he/she goes on to be a perennial All Star, you’ll want to be the one that said you saw it coming. So if you do, trust your instincts.
Who knows, maybe the expert that wrote the pessimistic piece on ESPN has those thoughts deriving from his inner-fan, just like you. Or better yet, that person could be pulling a John Carroll and merely stealing someone else’s words. No need to let them unduly influence yours.