Fanning the flames of Favre's ankle health news – without educating anyone

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First, let me disclose to anyone who doesn’t know me that if you cut me open, I bleed green and gold and cheese for the Green Bay Packers. Because of this, and not despite this, I have remained one of Brett Favre’s biggest fans through the good times and the bad, and through his years with the Pack, the Jets (one year) and now the Vikings (will he make it through a second year?). I didn’t know anything about him when he started with the Falcons.

I wish the best for him personally.

But news coverage of his ankle has gone from the silly to the ridiculous – with stories including nothing but meaningless terminology that doesn’t inform anyone.

Screen shot 2010-08-31 at 11.31.25 AM.jpgThe latest: Peter King of Sports Illustrated posted an article claiming that Favre is “already taking injections in his wounded ankle.” (Picture at left is from SI website.) Samples of the junk journalism:

• Favre “got an injection of lubricant in the left ankle that has three times been operated on to remove loose bodies. “Like a grease fitting,” he said.

• Lubricant? What is that lubricant? WD-40? Or, given Brett’s age and advertising popularity, is it a new product called BF-40? Grease?

• King writes: “Noted orthopedist Dr. James Andrews did the most recent surgery May 22, with an interested party in the operating theater: Deanna Favre. “They took out a cup full of stuff — bone and all these other loose bodies.”

• Really? A cup full of stuff? That’s what Deanna said. What did Dr. Andrews say? Or wouldn’t he be quoted because he cares about patient privacy issues?!?

I could go on but won’t. But King’s Sports Illustrated stuff has been picked up by all sorts of other news organizations, especially local Twin Cities media. Stories like this don’t educate anyone very much or vey well about bone spurs or ankle problems in elite athletes. But they do fan the flames of Favre fever. And I know this is only sports, but this is a missed opportunity to educate people who never get beyond the sports section.

But these are some of the same sportswriters who write about “successful surgery” within minutes after the surgical wound is closed. How do we measure “success” so quickly? Did we learn nothing from the old joke about “The operation was a success, but the patient died?”

Go Pack!

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