Since the release of “The Dirty Game,” Sports Illustrated’s so-called expose’ of Oklahoma State’s football program, people across the country have been piling on the magazine.
To that heap I would like to add another body — my own.
I had a subscription to Sports Illustrated for about four decades and have respected it my entire life. The reporting was solid, the writing even better. When I was younger, I enjoyed the likes of Curry Kirkpatrick on college basketball, Jack McCallum on the NBA, Ron Fimrite on Major League Baseball. And on the long pieces, nobody could turn a phrase like Leigh Montville or Gary Smith.
But what I read last week was not the publication I grew up with. The stories featured slipshod reporting, ambush interview tactics and zero documentation.
Instead of letting the story flow naturally, the magazine manufactured a premise it clutched so tightly that the facts never had a chance to breathe.
Here’s what SI uncovered in 10 months: College football players are pampered young adults who smoke weed, get laid more than nerds and piss down their legs when life throws them an incompletion.
Sports Illustrated not only buried the lead, it barely acknowledged him: Boone Pickens. His gazillions made OSU’s quick rise to prominence possible, not some university-wide collusion.
And if you think I’m some partisan Okie, think again. None other than former SI writer John Walters called the five-part series an “epic fail.”
Some NCAA infractions may indeed come of this. Too many squawked about too many things.
But the biggest loser here isn’t OSU.
It is the craft of journalism, which SI made a mockery of.