The NAIA’s James Justice, a senior basketball player for the Martin Methodist College RedHawks (logo at left) won ESPN’s live dunk contest, beating out NCAA Division 1 players like Auburn’s Kenny Gabriel, Miami’s Dequan Jones and Clemson’s Bryan Narcisse in the semifinals.
In its usual style, ESPN virtually never even mentions NAIA college sports. That’s because the behemoth outfit is geared purely toward hyping its own programming, not actual sports journalism. Since ESPN doesn’t broadcast NAIA games they pretend their football, basketball and baseball teams don’t even exist. It’s similar to soccer, where the ESPN on-air talent used to treat it like a joke, but when ESPN decided to air games, their broadcasters were forced to do their usual bit of disguising sports publicizing as sports broadcasting.
Right now the cable outfit called CBS College Sports (the new home of Jim Rome) carries NAIA sports coverage. Anyone who is disgusted with ESPN and the NCAA should love NAIA sports, especially when one of their student athletes outshines the hired guns in NCAA Division 1 hoops like James Justice did. It took an enormous social media campaign simply to get Justice in the Exclusively Sports Publicizing Network’s contest. That media campaign, and Justice’s performance in the contest, are a triumph for REAL student athletes over ESPN’s and the NCAA’s attempts to relegate them to obscurity.
For more fun remember to follow Balladeer’s Blog’s fooball coverage in the fall, when I give special attention to NAIA teams that defeat NCAA teams!