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Welcome to Beat the Coverage

Welcome to your only sports media watchdog in pursuit of the truth, no matter where it takes us.

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First off, let me say welcome to Beat the Coverage. My name is Andrew Coppens and I’m the founder of this site and a long-time member of the digital media world. As we launch, I though it important for you, the sports-loving public to understand what this site is about and who we aim to be for you.

There are sports media sites around just about every corner of the interwebs these days, so why should you be here and make us part of your sports consumption every day?

Our goal is simple, to be the place where you go to get the truth about stories being put out there by the sports media today. Sadly, sports coverage has become as politically motivated as the rest of our world and few are watching out for you the consumer of said media. Over the past few years the personal political leanings of sports writers, commentators and digital media members have begun to take over the sports world and it’s resulted in needing a true watchdog to keep them honest.

Ask yourself if you knew the politics of any of the great names of sports writers or on-air personalities of the past? Chances are you didn’t, unless that person went in to politics after sports. Today, things are much different and we live in a world where bias has crept in to sports coverage at an alarming rate.

My goal is to bring the truth, regardless of where that takes me or the hopefully growing team of content producers for this site.

Truth is truth regardless of your or my political leanings, and sports should be the place where politics matters least and the games matter the most.

But, why go there? Well, it began a long time ago for me personally (more on that in a minute), but the idea to give you another side and a different view on sports came relatively recently. It began with a survey from The Big Lead that noted just 4 percent of the sports media admitted to voting for Donald Trump (and I would be in the other 96 percent in the pursuit of transparency) and just 3 percent of those surveyed identified as being Republican, while 58 percent self-identified as Democrats.

Twitter, sports media’s favorite social platform should also be a dead giveaway as to the leanings of those in the industry and those surveyed by The Big Lead weren’t even a bit shy about how they see sports writers today:

Sports media members surveyed believe the sports media is liberal. 78.4 percent described the sports media as either “liberal” or “very liberal.” Only 5.9 percent thought it was conservative. 90.2 percent described sports media Twitter as “liberal” or “very liberal.”

Why does that matter, you might be asking? It matters, because the sports media world has become more about culture and less about the games themselves over the past four years or so. Thus, the world view of those covering sports is increasingly important to understand. It’s important to know the bias and angle of a writer as much as the subject being covered.

Let me give you an example from recent memory.

No story was hotter in August around the sports media world than the Michael Bennett accusations against the Las Vegas police following a shooting at a Casino after the Floyd Mayweather-Connor McGregor fight. But, once the video dropped and the accusations feel apart where was the media to hold Bennett’s feet to the fire for his baseless accusations or do the basics of journalism and report facts instead of accusations with no proof behind them in the first place?

Here’s the truth behind that whole affair — it all went down like it did because Bennett’s accusations fit a narrative and world view most in the sports media believe and are invested in. The truth, on the other hand, did not fit those same goals. So, why would the media self-correct? Why would they fail to blow up Bennett’s lies the way they did his accusations? Few are asking those types of questions or exposing that kind of bias. That’s why we’re here.

But, that’s just one place we would go and its important to know my personal history with media bias for you to trust what this project is about.

For those of you familiar with my work then you know who I am. But, for those of you who aren’t familiar, I have spent the large part of the past six years in the digital media world. I’ve worked as an independent journalist covering everything from the Wisconsin Badgers to the Big Ten, the World Cup and all sorts of points in between. I’ve seen the inner workings of the behemoth that is a site like Bleacher Report and blog networks like FanSided and Bloguin (now The Sports Daily).

Over that six years, one thing has become very apparent — I was in the vast minority of those I work with. Yes, I happen to have a more libertarian/conservative outlook on life in general and I won’t hide that. But, being aware that I was in the vast minority was actually a helpful tool, because I became hyper aware of my surroundings inside newsrooms and chatting services. It also allowed me to see bias where others were likely unaware of it happening.

My first foray in to the intersection of sports and politics wasn’t a recent one though. It actually came back in 2013, as I was in my third year of covering the Wisconsin Badgers via a site called MadTown Badgers. That April controversy reigned as backup kicker Jack Russell was called out by the late, great Badgers beat writer Tom Mulhern for standing with a rifle at a local gun show while happening to wear Wisconsin Badgers football gear.

No, it wasn’t any illegal action that put Russell in the cross-hairs of the Badgers beat writer, but the fact that he had the audacity to post a picture of himself holding a gun while having a piece of clothing with the Motion W on it. For that, Russell was racked over the coals by a local media member, with said local media member knowing full-well that the player could not defend himself in the form of an interview or statement to the media.

There’s simply no way the sports information department at Wisconsin would’ve exposed him to that, nor should they have.

Instead, someone else had to stand up for him. That someone was me, asking basic questions like, why is this even a story? What was the point of Mulhern’s article? Were his accusations even rooted in fact?

The answers to those questions were, no it wasn’t even a story but more a statement of where Mulhern’s thoughts on gun-control stood. It was also about a cheap click for an article in the slow time of the year for college football beat writers, I mean, why else would the word “gun-toting” appear in the headline other than to attract people to click on the article.

The point of the article? To this day I’m not really sure because it seemed to be a cheap shot against those who liked guns while trying to tie it to a narrative about out of control content from college athletes on social media, while also meant to create some outrage by fans or those on campus too.

As for facts in the article? The only facts in the article were that Russell posted the picture and that head coach Gary Andersen had once spoken about the use of social media by his players.

Russell wasn’t in trouble with Andersen or violating any known social media policy, yet this was a news story for a beat writer to pitch to his editor and said editor thinking it worthy of putting together.

In reality, it was lazy journalism for a writer who was anything but that 99 percent of the time. But, I bring that incident up because it was the first example of bias in the sports media I had ever really noticed before.

That experience was an eye-opening one, teaching me that supposed beat writers were more than willing to put their outlook on politics in to their sports writing. It isn’t to say that the late Tom Mulhern wasn’t a great beat writer or journalist, he was one of the best covering the Wisconsin Badgers I knew. But, it did give a young digital journalist a lesson in bias and politics in sports media.

Ever since that moment I have become increasingly keen to bias in reporting, writing and commentary from journalists (columnists and commentators are a whole different subject) and digital media types. But, that was just one experience and it wasn’t until I became a part of larger networks and news desks that bias became extremely obvious.

Whether it was article ideas being nixed in favor of others covering the same topic, but clearly fitting a world view or political leaning an editor or decision maker had or simply having to bite my lip and do my job while my personal political leanings were trashed in front of me, it was clear that bias was creeping in more and more.

No better example personally exists than what took place in 2017, while pitching an idea on the Colin Kaepernick controversy. After weeks of stories on Kaepernick the idea was to do something no other sports journalist had done to date nationally — dare to ask what the organizations Kaepernick was donating to were actually about.

The idea was quickly shot down because “there were too many articles on Kaepernick,” only to see articles over the next few days and weeks come out in glowing praise of Kaepernick and the protest movement he started. Nary a question of where his charitable efforts were being put to use, what the organizations stood for and just what kind of agenda Kaepernick was serving. Naray an article daring to ask hard questions of Kaepernick, but plenty of them questioning the motives of those who disagreed with him and the protests happening during sporting events.

That’s how we got here today. It’s time to put the sports media’s feet to the fire and hold them accountable for the stories written, words spoken and videos made and the bias that comes with it all.

Sadly, sticking to sports is no longer a thing and we should all be aware of what sports media coverage really means today. So, if you want a place that will speak the truth about those covering the sports we love, understand and call out bias no matter which direction it is coming from and hope to change the direction of the sports media…you’ve come to the right place.

We’re sticking to truth in sports coverage and we hope you’ll join us for that journey!

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Veteran of the Digital Sports Media world, with work featured on Fox Sports, ESPNU and other outlets. Previously employed at Bleacher Report, The Comeback and FanSided. Consumer of sports media and member of it since 2011, you can find me still beating the drum of independence and truth in sports coverage.

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Digital Media

Clay Travis continues to use hearsay to troll Greg Schiano

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Clay Travis isn’t afraid to say what is on his mind, and often times he’s one of the few in national sports media not afraid to speak truth to the prevailing narrative. 

However, he isn’t above being wrong and on Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano he is exactly that – wrong. 

Travis’ obsession with Schiano started about this time last year as his beloved Tennessee Volunteers (he wrote a book about them if you didn’t already know) were about to hire him as their next head coach. It continued on Tuesday morning as Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer’s retirement and Ryan Day’s appointment as head coach were announced

The claim by Travis and others was and is that Schiano knew about incidents of child rape involving then Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky back in the early 90’s and did nothing about it. 

Travis presents the scenario as if it is established fact and therefore should disqualify him from ever being a head coach of a major college football program again. 

But, what was really said in the now unsealed deposition? Well, it paints a vastly different picture than what Travis and his campaign to get Schiano out of the Vols head coaching search painted. 

It’s something that Fox Sports college football analyst Joel Klatt pointed out to Travis after he tried to defend his take earlier today. 

Here is what the deposition actually says according to StateCollege.com

In his deposition in the civil case, which was unsealed with hundreds of pages of documents in July 2016, McQueary said that in the mid-2000s, years after he reported it to Penn State officials, he told defensive coordinator Tom Bradley about the 2001 incident in which he says he saw Sandusky abusing a boy in a locker room shower. Bradley, McQueary said, told him he had heard a few similar reports, including one from Schiano in the early 90s.

McQueary claimed that he briefly discussed what he witnessed with Bradley, who had been on the Penn State staff since 1979 and succeeded Sandusky as defensive coordinator after the 1999 season.

“He said he knew of some things,” McQueary testified. “He said another assistant coach had come to him in the early 90s about a very similar situation to mine, and he said that he had — someone had come back to him as far back as the early 80s about seeing Jerry doing something with a boy.”

That’s certainly a different story than what Travis and his ilk would have you believe. If you listen to Travis on this subject you would be led to believe that what he is saying about Schiano is 100 percent fact…end of story. 

Instead, the actual truth is that Schiano may have known something at one point in time way back in 1991 or anytime during his tenure in State College, but no one has been able to verify the claim made by McQueary — not even Tom Bradley himself verifies these claims. 

In fact, Bradley has denied all knowledge of any acts by Sandusky from the very start. He released a statement through his attorney after the testimony became unsealed. 

“At no time did Tom Bradley ever witness any inappropriate behavior. Nor did he have any knowledge of alleged incidents in the 80’s and 90’s. He has consistently testified as such,” the statement read. “Any assertions to the contrary are false. When he became aware of the 2001 incident it had already been reported to the University administration years earlier.”

So, Travis is willing to take the third party hearsay in a civil deposition as the gospel truth? He wasn’t about to back down this morning that’s for sure. 

Call me confused, because this is also the same man who will scream to the heavens that a person is innocent until proven guilty.

Where is the proof that Schiano knew and did nothing? There literally is none in existence that we or Travis or anyone else can dig up. The only people that really know are Bradley and Schiano themselves. 

Travis is also in danger of being a massive hypocrite. Let’s remember this is also literally the same situation as current Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh went through just a few months ago.

You know who went to bat for Kavanaugh? 

You got it…Clay Travis. 

If there’s one thing I can’t stand it is someone who has a standard and doesn’t apply it equally. 

Why would Travis not believe the Kavanaugh accusers, but believe McQueary? Both sets of people were under threat of either felony or perjury charges. Yet, only one set of these people were labeled a liar by Travis. 

Oh, that’s right, Travis had an agenda to make sure the team he loves most doesn’t make a bad football hire. He would go to any lengths to make sure that happens and in this case it is continuing to smear a man with a case of third party hearsay. 

He also owes Schiano and his family an apology for dragging his name through the mud based of of unsubstantiated claims. He’s wholly bent on wrecking a man’s life and reputation because he didn’t want his favorite team. 

Even worse is that people wholly believe what Travis is selling has 100 percent fact and will repeat it ad nauseam. It’s how tall tales replace real facts across our culture and is very dangerous indeed.   

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Sports Illustrated

Sports Illustrated uses Tim Green story to push CTE-ALS link as fact

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Tim Green was once the backbone of an ever-underachieving Atlanta Falcons team in the late 1980’s and early 90’s. He then went on to become a massive success as a broadcaster, author of children’s books and as a businessman. 

But, on Sunday night he also revealed a drastic change to his life, as he announced on CBS’ “60 Minutes” program that he was suffering from ALS — otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. 

Sports Illustrated had a piece on this segment and how ALS and head-trauma from football players are linked. 

It’s truly sad to see anyone suffer through this debilitating and eventually fatal disease. Yet, Green remains upbeat and considers what he’s been able to accomplish in his life as a blessing. That much he made clear in his interview with 60 Minutes. 

But, for SI.com writer Jack Dickey, Green’s situation seemed a good time to remind everyone that CTE leads to ALS and there’s no question about it.  

“Green, 54, is not the first ex-NFLer to develop the disease; the link between the violent game and the degenerative and fatal neurological condition, which causes sufferers to lose most control of their muscles and is diagnosed in two to three out of every 100,000 people annually, has grown somewhat clearer with time,” Dickey points out in his article.

The key words here are “somewhat clearer with time.” 

The problem is, studies about CTE and ALS being linked haven’t actually made things any more clear. What has become clear is that people with CTE are seemingly more likely to get ALS than the general population as a whole. 

That doesn’t mean the two are actually linked though. Commonality doesn’t equal causation necessarily and a basic biology class or science class in general has taught all of us that. 

At least one would think that is the case. 

The reality of the research on the issue is vastly different than the conclusion SI.com draws.

In reality, the link is a possibility at best. There simply isn’t enough available data or understanding of CTE or the link to ALS to make a definitive statement. 

As raredr.com points out, the study clearly makes a potential link in the fact that about 5 percent of studied CTE cases have also demonstrated symptoms of ALS. But, most importantly, it emphasizes that the two may not actually be linked. 

“Approximately 5% of CTE cases result in patients demonstrating the clinical or pathological characteristics of ALS, however, whether the 2 conditions are related has remained a mystery.”

It’s a number that is certainly higher than the average population as a whole. In fact, the study also points out that CTE has also been found in military veterans, who are twice as likely as non-veterans to be diagnosed with ALS. 

Yet, Sports Illustrated has taken it a step further in not bothering to point out the actual conclusions of the study to date. Instead, they make that blanket statement made above and then continue on as if that statement is fact. 

In fact, the rest of the article doesn’t even bother to mention the study in any factual way. There is no quoting of the study or any further discussion of the link that has been shown to date.

But, SI would have you believe this one paragraph and its conclusions are the only thing that could be possible. 

It’s the exact opposite of what the study concludes:  

Due to the high complexity of both diseases, more long-term studies are necessary for a full understanding of the connection. The recent analysis warrants a larger study of more people with CTE and CTE-ALS to confirm results, but continued studies could potentially uncover viable CTE-ALS biomarkers and therapeutic options.

Shame on Sports Illustrated for using Tim Green and his situation to promote half-truths and outright falsehoods within an article. 

This is exactly how speculation and falsehoods become truth in the popular culture. After all, outlets like SI have become trusted sources of information and if they print it, it must be true.

It is on outlets like SI to give us the honest and unvarnished truth. Anything less than that is malfeasance. 

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Digital Media

What the Quod? A new era in sports media coverage

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First off, for those of you that have come to grow with us at Beat The Coverage — a hearty thank you. 

When I started this project my goal was to expose the truth of liberal and social justice bias in sports media and give a different voice on the biggest topics and stories coming out of the sports world. 

It’s been a fun journey to date, but as the saying goes “if you aren’t changing, you’re dying.” 

So today, we bring you a brand new name — The Quod. 

What is The Quod? Well, for those of you that love dead languages, it’s Latin for because, which and fact. What better way to hammer home the point that facts are missing from the sports media world of today, than to put it right in the name? 

It also brings up the idea of “The Quad” on your favorite college campus…also known as the area where protest, speech and gathering takes place. 

Why the Change? 

Well, as some of you likely know, there’s this website called Outkick The Coverage out there. What Clay Travis is doing there is amazing work, and it’s some of the stuff I am doing here on our little corner of the interwebs.

Frankly, considering the messaging, content and ideas behind our sites, it just felt too close to stand out on its own. Beat The Coverage was meant to stand on its own two feet…and today The Quod does just that!

There were months spent trying to come up with sports-driven names. White boards and brainstorming sessions with scribbled names. There were heated discussions and confused looks, not to mention great ideas that were blocked by domain ownership and social media concerns. 

Seriously, you won’t believe how difficult it is to come up with a name that no one owns for a domain, let alone via social media. 

All of it took place inside my home, as I ran things by my partner in life, my wife Lexi, and a few trusted friends in this business (believe it or not they can and do exist). 

So, I want to take some time to thank Lexi for her endless support, her patience (even if she doesn’t think she has it) and most importantly for those rambling talk-through sessions as I wanted to make this change. 

I may be the writing and speaking force behind this site, but she’s the one that makes life work at our house and that allows me to take time to do this project. 

Thank you dear! 

Back to the change at hand though…here at The Quod we continue to evolve our coverage of the Social Justice Sports Writer ( #SJSW) and bias within sports media in general. As we’ve established, the two kind of go hand in hand these days. 

Our biggest weapon in the fight to keep sports honest? It’s always been facts. That won’t be changing any time soon. I am promising to double down the efforts to come at you with facts, whether that be laying out what they are on a topic or using them as an argument against a biased article or writer. 

Facts, not political ideology or the prevailing mob of opinion will be our driving force. It always has been, but with this name change that’s even more clear. 

So, welcome to The Quod — Where Sports Media bias meets fact. 

Now go follow us on Twitter @thequodsports and find us on Facebook too.

I appreciate your support for what I’m doing here and thank you sincerely for spreading the word as we ramp up our growth! Keep on spreading the good word and giving me the feedback…it’s appreciated more than you know. 

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