During this bye week, our new Gamecocks blogging pals at The Rubber Chickens asked if they could do a guest post and we did not hesitate in taking them up on this offer as they do good work on their side of the internet.
So when reading this, know that the views/opinions expressed are those of The Rubber Chickens…
My dad had a saying. It was probably not original with him, but he like repeating it. “There is a right way and a wrong way to do everything” he liked to say. He would usually say these words when he caught me taking a shortcut on yard work or neglecting chores around the house. While I invariably felt that the job was getting done just fine, he would point out that I had left it partially or sloppily undone. For example, I may have watered the garden, but I left the garden hose in the yard. I cut the grass, but I didn’t adjust the cutting height and had scalped the yard.
I thought of my dad and his favorite saying the other day while listening to post-practice interviews. Specifically, I thought about his “right way-wrong way” saying while listening to the questions posed by our local sports media. As is usual, I was not impressed by the effort or approach of our reporters.
To put it in the current vernacular: Sports Journalism, U R Doin’ it Wrong.
Let me illustrate by giving examples. See if any of these sound familiar to you as a Gamecock fan:
– Looked like [player’s name] wasn’t out here today, where is he?
– Saw [player’s name] taking snaps with the second unit, has he been demoted?
– Looked like you were getting on the [unit] pretty good today, are they struggling?
– Coach [name] was pretty rough on your guys, what’s your response?
– Coach [name] kinda called you out, what do you have to say about that?
Do these questions strike you as insightful, important, or even interesting? Or, on the other hand, do they seem like someone is phoning it in; asking easy questions, stirring up needless controversy, pitting players against the coaches, pitting players against the fans. Then writing up a quick story that tells us next to nothing about the team, its players, or the day-to-day reality of our favorite sports program.
Granted, Steven Orr Spurrier can make a reporter’s job pretty easy. He can be counted on to say something snide and quote-worthy on a daily basis. But to always rely on Spurrier’s snarkiness strikes me as lazy and unimaginative.
Instead, what if our sports reporters put in some careful work and actually researched our team? What if the ‘insiders’ (a ridiculous misnomer for guys who are issued press credentials) spent some time gathering hard-to-find information and could then provide relevant context and analysis as the season unfolded? What if they knew more about the players’ backgrounds? I’m talking about information more detailed than a star ranking and a position on the depth chart. Tell us about a player’s passion, his motivation, and his origins. Tell us why he plays the game in the first place. Make him human. Make him real.
Wouldn’t that make it a richer and more rewarding experience for the reporter? I know it would enrich us as followers.
Oh, and this might seem crazy, but what if these reporters were actually fans of our team? This past week I noticed that the Post and Courier’s Travis Haney (who does some good work, by the way) got in a twitter discussion over what team he pulled for in the game. Haney’s answer: “The Post and Courier.”
Now he’s right (he works for them), but he’s also wrong. There is absolutely no reason a beat writer has to stay neutral. This isn’t the BBC covering the Palestinian crisis. It’s a local college town.
Get excited, Travis. Buy some gamecock gear and invest yourself in the game. Blow a doggone vuvuzula if you want, because that kind of passion would build you a strong base of loyal followers. Remember, in some other southern sports towns, you can get fired from the local paper for wearing a hat of a rival team.
Local sports media, there is a right way and a wrong way of reporting on our Gamecocks. The right way may take more careful and thorough work, but the final product would be something we could all be proud of.
Now, if you will excuse me, I think I left the garden hose in the yard.