by Irvin Muchnick
In an extraordinary confession of football and television sports priorities, the producer of the CBS Sports network broadcast of Thursday night’s Junior College Athletic Association football championship game has justified failing to mention the death of a Garden City (Kansas) Community College player less than four months earlier, as well as the incriminating autopsy findings of only one day earlier, because they “didn’t fit naturally in the flow of the game.”
The acknowledgment came in an email to Concussion Inc. yesterday from Joel Kitay, president of Kitay Productions, the contract producer for CBS Sports.
As we’ve been singularly reporting, following the first Garden City practice of the season in the southwestern Kansas heat on August 1, Braeden Bradforth, 19, became college football’s 36th recorded conditioning death this century. After head coach Jeff Sims quelled any initial media interest in the circumstances of the fatality by falsely asserting that Bradforth had sustained a “non-football-related” blood clot, the forensic pathology report — filed in state district court 117 days later, on the eve of the championship game between Garden City and East Mississippi — established unequivocally that the cause of death was exertional heat stroke.
Hours prior to the game, I forwarded this finding to CBS Sports and asked if and how it would be handled in the broadcast. CBS Sports disclaimed responsibility for the content of the broadcast and referred me to Kitay Productions. Yesterday Joel Kitay got back to me with the explanation that “we were so busy getting ready to get on the air yesterday that I was unable to respond before now.”
Kitay went on to say:
“Our announcers were aware of this, and it was discussed in detail when we had a phone call with the head coach prior to the game. It was up to the announcers to bring it up on air if the topic came up naturally in the flow of the game, which it did not.”
I asked Kitay for the substance of what his production team “discussed in detail” with Coach Sims, but Kitay did not respond.
It is left to the rest of us to decide the efficacy and morality of the censoring of a wrongful death narrative on the basis of its convenience to the presentation of an entertainment spectacle.
Prior to the game, I had learned from Garden City sources that Sims did intend to address the Braeden Bradforth matter on the broadcast. (And Sims directly, if not very coherently, gave me a statement — see https://concussioninc.net/?p=13413.)
That Sims would not, in fact, wind up being interviewed on camera by the CBS Sports network is perhaps no great loss, since he likely would have done little more than repeat pieties about God’s will.
In my view, however, the broadcast decision to punt on any mention at all of Braeden Bradforth was shameful. CBS Sports’ audience should be fed at least a spoonful of reality with their gridiron escapism.
Go tell those of us advocating for a sober look at football’s public health menace that a mere death doesn’t make the cut on grounds of “flow of the game.” Go tell Braeden’s bereaved mother, Joanne Atkins-Ingram, that Garden City Community College’s effective negligent homicide was considered by the announcers (what, they’re entitled to a participation medal for good intentions?), but ultimately rejected because the topic didn’t “come up naturally.”
Thanks to Joel Kitay’s clumsy stab at butt-covering, it now has come up … unnaturally.
DEATH OF BRAEDEN BRADFORTH — COMPLETE HEADLINE LINKS:
Published August 3rd, 2018
Published August 9th, 2018
Published November 14th, 2018