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April 9, 2015

WWE Presence On ESPN Under Increasing Scrutiny

At The National Sports Journalism Center's website, Michael Bradley has an editorial about ESPN's seemingly sudden adoption of WrestleMania as a legitimate sports event deserving of their coverage. It's also, to an extent, a reaction to Richard Deitsch's Sports Illustrated article about how this all came about.

Bradley's argument, overall, is that while it's not out of line for ESPN to give WWE coverage, covering it like it's a legitimate sporting event creates ethical issues if it was done solely to get more eyeballs on the network and its related properties. In a key passage, he writes:

"Forging alliances with legitimate leagues is one thing. Trying to build an audience by making something that isn't real sport seem more legitimate is far more cynical and potentially explosive. First comes the WWE. Then come full highlights of the Globetrotters' next game. After all, that team has fans all around the world."

Bradley also adds that "It's fun to talk about Lesnar and his fellow rasslers, but it's not journalism," but it's not clear if he means that it's not sports journalism or that he feels pro wrestling coverage inherently can't be journalism.

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