COLUMNS

Leaving Las Vegas

Kyle Riviere
kriviere@weeklycitizen.com
Weekly Citizen Sports Editor Kyle Riviere.

Journalism just isn't what it used to be. It used to center around real stories, real problems, real issues.

Somewhere down the line, we became obsessed with celebrities and their lifestyles and as a result, those guidelines were scrapped from the journalistic profession.

Now, talentless wonders are given reality shows, and news stations waste entire segments talking about celebrity weddings and the latest juicy bits of gossip from Hollywood.

It's all quite disturbing and makes me happy that I'm in the sports-writing business. But then again, the lines have become less visible as of late.

More and more, we're beginning to see the sleazy world of tabloid journalism merge into the sports world. There was no greater recent example than Johnny Manziel's latest trip to Las Vegas.

The newly-drafted Manziel chose to spend his Memorial Day weekend in style as he made the trip to "Sin City." While there, some of his activities included hanging out with party legend Rob Gronkowski and attending UFC 173.

There must be a catch, right?

He must have gotten into some drunken brawl or gotten arrested for stealing even more crab legs than Jameis Winston. Maybe he took enough to make the guys on "Deadliest Catch" jealous.

No? Well then, this trip must have cost him to miss some kind of important team function, right?

Nope. The 21-year-old Manziel just had an incident-free Memorial Day weekend in Vegas that saw no drama, no arrests and no crazy accusations.

In fact, he made it back in time to report to the first day of Browns OTAs on Tuesday.

So, what am I missing here? Why is this a story?

Why are the talking heads chirping about this on ESPN? Why are people writing articles about this?

Why are some fans actually mad that he spent a weekend in Vegas? Leave the tabloid journalism in Hollywood where it belongs.

I hate the fact that actors and actresses are constantly stalked by paparazzi and have their private lives invaded 24/7, so it makes me even more irritated when I see it now happening to athletes.

What they do on the field is news. What they say in press conferences is news. If they get into some kind of legal trouble, that's news. Other than that, they need to be left alone.

They signed up to utilize their talent and play professional sports. They didn't sign up to have every aspect of their personal lives documented and critiqued.

Unfortunately, with today's thirst for gossip, 24-hour news stations and the immediacy of the Internet, that's what these athletes have to put up with the second they sign their rookie contracts.

Manziel has had to deal with the media scrutiny far before he was ever drafted by the Browns. After he became the first freshman to ever win the Heisman, his life changed.

He instantly became the biggest name in all of college sports.

The enormity of it all put him at celebrity status--which resulted in him being the tabloid's new money-maker.

All summer, he was talked about any time he attended a sporting event, he was questioned any time he hung out with a fellow celebrity and he was labeled as "out of control" any time he went to a party.

And now that he's a professional, they're just looking for opportunities for him to slip up so they can get their front-page articles.

By all of the attention he has received for this trip to Vegas, you'd swear he was rolling with "The Wolfpack."

I'm waiting to hear stories about how he became blood brothers with Alan Garner, pulled out some of Stu Price's teeth and helped Phil steal a police car. I was expecting to hear about him being lost at the end of the night and The Wolfpack having to tear the city apart looking for him, but I didn't.

There was no "Hangover 4." Nothing happened. He didn't get lost, arrested, tased, shot or married to some dancer while in a drunken haze.

He just had a normal, fun weekend in Vegas. But still, we were forced to hear about it. Still, he had to see his private life all over TV and the Internet.

He still had to deal with grumpy fans that were mad that he didn't decide to spend his Memorial Day weekend at home watching PBS, drinking Ovaltine and constructing a stamp collection.

This kind of media coverage is set up for athletes and other celebrities to fail. The tabloid reporters are just waiting for them to have one misstep.

They're waiting for them to make just one mistake and when they do, these so-called journalists pounce on them like a great white on a horde of sea lions.

But at the end of the day, we can't really blame the tabloids or the dirt sheets. The blame goes to us.

If there weren't people tuning in to the scandalous stories or reading about the celebrity drama, they wouldn't waste their time covering it and putting it out there for all to see.

Why cover Johnny Manziel's weekend in Vegas? They know people actually care. They know people will watch and read their stories regardless.

If he slips up and does something stupid, they have a big, exciting story on their hands.

And even if it turns out like it did and nothing remotely interesting happens, there will still be a number of cantankerous fans that will see the story and find a reason to be upset. Anger and unrest sells too.