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ESPN Article on Oregon/Knight Relationship “investigative reporter” Mike Fish has a hyperbolic front page story on the Oregon athletic department’s relationship with Nike founder Phil Knight. ESPN, home of Playmakers, the World Series of Poker and ESPN Hollywood, promotes the story on its front page in the following manner:

ESPN OU/Knight Front Page

Can someone please explain this photo and caption to me?
As for the story itself, you already know what to expect. Fish devotes only one paragraph to Knight’s sizable non-athletic contributions and portrays him as a selfish, childish puppet-master. Maybe Fish can get a job at the Eugene Weekly when ESPN abandons real sports entirely.

  1. Olly says:

    Ian: sorry for misreading. I think my confusion may have stemmed from the fact that, as far as I can tell, the “insolent/petulant child” interpretation comes from you rather than the ESPN piece – I think you’re just reading it a bit too defensively.

    “I think Knight simply loves the school, loves sports, and consequently wants his school to succeed in athletics no matter what the personal monetary cost.”

    I agree. That’s the sense I got from the article. Of course, the point of the story is that not everyone is going to agree with Knight’s plan for future success in athletics, and when there’s conflict he will use his financial muscle to advance his interests. And conflict there sometimes is. Not an unreasonable thing to put in a news story, really.

  2. Tyler says:

    Didn’t Michael Moore interview Phil Knight for his movie The Big One? Perhaps his aversion to the media stems from that encounter.

  3. Meghann says:

    I believe Frohnmayer summed up Mr. Knight quite nicely in The Oregonian article. I believe him over you. 😛

  4. emily says:

    Maybe in the sports media, but certainly not in the financial sector. He has been profusely reported on and interviewed by Forbes, The Harvard Business review, and Business Week.

    All you need do is type “Phil Knight” and “interview” into google.

  5. Meghann says:

    yes Emily, private man. He may like to flaunt his money, but when was the last time you read/saw an interview with him? He doesn’t like to talk about his personal activities publicly.

  6. Timothy says:

    That’s okay, I never learned to read.

  7. emily says:

    * near

    I will never learn to type

  8. emily says:

    I have to say, having worked for Nike both at UO and at Nike Headquarters that after having ACTUALLY met Mr. Knight on more than one occasion that he likes his money. Having had it for a number of years now in great quantities does lend itself to feelings of entitlement, on a grand scale. By some this could be interpreted as being a petulent child, and in the manner that Mr. Knight is involved in UO athletics I have to agree (sorry Ian, but Roboduck did it in for me). But do I think that this is negative? No. Just don’t let him neat the mascots.

    And Meghann, private man? Ummm….

  9. Meghann says:

    I thought it was a great story. I think you may be trying to read too much into the photo choice. Phil is a very private man; unposed photos of him are difficult to come by I would imagine. They probably just used what they thought was the best.

  10. Danimal says:

    Indulgent, certainly. But he’s not made of airports!

  11. Timothy says:

    Another reading comprehension test failed. This child was definitely left behind.

  12. Ian says:

    I think you misunderstand my position. My problem isn’t with Knight, it’s with Fish. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Knight influencing the athletic department – he’s done more for the school’s academics and athletics than anyone else. But I do have a problem with Fish’s characterization of Knight as a wealthy, petulant child. Indulgent, certainly. I think Knight simply loves the school, loves sports, and consequently wants his school to succeed in athletics no matter what the personal monetary cost.

  13. Olly says:

    Hm, or maybe I’m just not attaching the same importance as you to words like “high maintenance” and “petulance”. Like I say, I don’t think there’s anything improper about Knight being petulant and high-maintenance with the people he’s trundling these wheelbarrows of cash to.

  14. Olly says:

    Tim: “Although none of Knight’s money has gone directly into Oregon’s daily operating budget, the university now ranks among only a handful Division I-A athletic departments that are self-sufficient in operating without any university support.”

    Ian: I think it’s safe to assume that Knight wants some input in exchange for Christ knows how many millions of dollars (and this is distinct from the Nike sponsorship, which a lot of other schools have as well). If the UO can’t get funding for, say, a basketball arena without Phil Knight, then the UO is going to have to listen to Phil Knight’s ideas about that basketball arena.

    Construe this as acting like an insolent child if you like, but I can’t get that exercised about it. Money comes with strings. (Especially a sum of money that, you know, “is so large it takes a minute to comprehend what it really means.”) The Athletic Dept. is free to tell him to piss off, you know.

  15. Timothy says:

    I have no idea. It also fails to mention that UO Athletics is entirely self funded so who gives two shits what they do? Idiots.

  16. ian says:

    How didn’t you get that from the piece?

    Maybe Mr. Nike can get antsy and, from time to time, flex his muscle in games of campus hardball. And he can be high maintenance

    No, the Nike boss didn’t fire Smith, but insiders say he made it damn well clear he wanted him gone. Salazar, a close friend of Knight’s who has a building named after him on the Nike campus, seemingly undercut Smith at every turn.

    Word is more hurt feelings recently caused Knight to turn icy on a proposed on-campus basketball arena.

    “In higher education you have more hoops to jump through and policies. You can’t move as fast as corporate America,” athletic director Bill Moos says of Knight’s occasional petulance.

    Fish describes Knight as essentially running Oregon athletics and acting like an insolent child when he doesn’t get his way. It’s not a positive article, and it’s unfortunate that The Frohn and Moos agreed to be interviewed.

    And I still can’t figure out what exactly they’re trying to insinuate with their front page picture and caption.

  17. Olly says:

    “Selfish, childish puppet-master”? I don’t get that from the article at all.

    The interesting thing about Knight, as far as a series on collegiate boosters goes, is that he’s technically outside the UO hierarchy, has massive influence on the athletic department, and he’s willing to throw tens of millions of dollars of his own money around to make a point. I really don’t have a problem with this as long as it stays within the athletic department: it’s pay to play. All the business with Martin Smith illustrates is that the University’s relationship with Knight is much, much more important than its relationship with one particular track coach, and I think that’s the way it was presented.

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