Sports coverage is not fascinating: newspaper proves how boring it is

Last Sunday, the Sun-Herald (the Sunday edition of the Sydney Morning Herald) published its list of the 20 most fascinating people in sport. A fairly decent read all up, even if you might not have agreed with all the choices. That is, after all, the point of any top-x list, to get people to disagree with the publication’s picks.

Gai Waterhouse, not wearing a fascinator. Photo: Jenny Evans, SMH

As a companion piece, it published the 10 least fascinating people in sport – a photo gallery with bitchy one-liners captions like “dishwater is no longer the world’s dullest thing” and “let’s just say she needs to improve her image”. Not hard-hitting journalism, but a good page filler for a Sunday.

A good newspaper would give plenty of coverage to the fascinating people and pretty much ignore the unfascinating ones. You would think. So let’s compare the lists of most and least fascinating sportspeople with the number of times they were mentioned on the website, according to Google.

Most fascinating people Number of mentions on Least fascinating people Number of mentions on
Wayne Bennett 43,000 Tiger Woods 63,000
Serena Williams 26,400 Andy Murray 46,000
Kevin Sheedy 22,800 Pim Verbeek 39,500
Michael Schumacher 19,400 Andrew Demetriou 29,500
Steve Waugh 16,500 Samantha (or Sam) Stosur 20,780
Bart Cummings 14,100 Des Hasler 15,100
Gai Waterhouse 13,000 Stephanie Rice 9,800
Peter de Villiers 8,070 Tim Nielsen 9,510
Muhammad Ali 5,530 Karrie Webb 5,930
Ljubo Milicevic 4,230 Mike Tyson 3,600
Lauren Jackson 4,130
Stephanie Gilmore 3,610
Brian Goorjian 3,280
Seve Ballesteros 3,060
Miguel Indurain 2,500
Caster Semenya 1,340
Khoder Nasser 1,090
Steve ‘Interesting’ Davis 163
Bill Belichick 101
John Moriarty 75

So, here we see one the least fascinating people in sport, Tiger Woods, is mentioned on the SMH website 63,000 times. By contrast Wayne Bennett, the most fascinating of the fascinating sportspeople is only mentioned 43,000 times. Even the dramatically unfascinating Mike Tyson gets 3,600 mentions, more than eight of the supposedly most fascinating people in sport. By this measure, he is 22 times more interesting than snooker player Steve ‘Interesting’ Davis.

I think the message for the Sun-Herald, and sports journalists in general, is crystal. If these people are so fascinating, why do we never hear about them from you? Are you bad at your jobs or just hoarding the fascinating people for yourselves like precious treasures?

And more to the point, if these other people are so fucking boring, stop writing about them.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Mel K says:

    I love this – great work.

  2. AJ says:

    Josh – most enjoyable article. Well done.

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