What's wrong with sports?

The phrases flashed across my computer screen.

"You showed us an 18-year-old could play with the best."

"You showed us how to hit game-winner after game-winner."

And on and on. I had to pause the video several times to refrain from regurgitating my lunch.

Never mind that the above statements are false. That didn't stop Nike from including them, as well as numerous cliches, in a new commercial designed to promote Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant.

That single commercial alone summarizes what the problem with sports media is these days.

Bryant rode the bench as an 18-year-old because he was not good enough to play regular minutes. He has actually missed more game-winning shots than he has made, and when compared statistically to other top players in the NBA, he is only one of many who come through in the clutch.

But you wouldn't know that if you follow mainstream sports media.

ESPN and Nike are prime culprits of the demise of sports journalism, a field that has become less and less about actual reporting and more about sensationalism.
It is more about who has the bigger name and what team brings in the most money.

Two years ago, I was at a now defunct basketball summer league in Los Angeles known as The Real Run. J.A. Adande from ESPN was sitting right in front of me.

Playing in the game were Eugene "Pooh" Jeter and Samardo Samuels, two players that were never drafted into the NBA, and spent several years languishing in Europe before finally getting a look from NBA scouts.

By the end of that season, both players were not only key contributors in the NBA, but starting for their respective teams. Two of the biggest feel-good stories of the NBA that year. You would think someone with the reputation that Adande has would be interested in writing about them.

Guess again. Adande spent the majority of the evening on his cell phone and left early without talking to anyone. The real reason he was there? There were rumors of Miami Heat superstar Lebron James showing up that day.

I spent this summer covering the Drew League, another basketball summer league in Los Angeles. Rumors exploded all over social media the entire summer about NBA players such as Derrick Rose, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, and Blake Griffin showing up to play.

Each time one of these rumors started making the Facebook and Twitter rounds, the gym would be packed with reporters from various publications. None of these players actually showed, but Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder did.

Bryant was in attendance to watch the championship game, prompting ESPN reporter Arash Markazi to lament the fact that he was not there. Forget that there was a title on the line for two teams, he was only bummed because he couldn't be in the mere presence of Bryant.

I was issued an official Nike press pass each time I arrived at the Drew, but on one particular day that Durant showed up, I was not allowed to be credentialed because several top Nike executives were flying in and all the press passes were reserved for them.

Never mind that the day before, several NBA players were also in attendance, but alas, none of them were Kevin Durant so the Nike executives couldn't care less.

We have just finished up our first issue here at The Corsair, and we will already be working on our third by the time this story makes it to print. I'm in my final semester as sports editor at our award-winning paper, a position I have held for a year now, and I hope to make our sports section the best it has ever been.

You will not find sensationalism on our part. Team and player reputations do not matter to us. We are not cheerleaders for any particular sport or player. We merely inform the public of what is happening.

It is our duty to report on all of Santa Monica College's athletics and student athletes, including those that do not garner much attention. In the event that certain players may stand out, we report accordingly, while understanding that one player does not make a team. They are just one part of a whole.

But know that sometimes, the team that isn't doing too well, or the player that sits at the end of the bench, make the best and most entertaining stories.

SportsDavid YapkowitzComment