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The musings of a Detroit-area sportswriter in the digital age.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Questionable ethics popping up in sports

It started with the questionable practice FSN Detroit engaged in by not showing a dugout skirmish the Tigers had in Chicago. What I read later in the day sent my ethics sensors skyrocketing. Apparently, two members of the Cincinnati media were escorted from the Broncos' locker room following Denver's first preseason game, the first of heralded, former Heisman-winning quarterback Tim Tebow. Their crime: Asking the Eye-Black Scriptured One for his autograph.
This might not sound like a big deal to many readers. But the issue at hand is when you are representing a news agency, you're not there as a fan. You are supposed to be a fly on the wall. You are not supposed to be the story. You don't wear sports jerseys and ballcaps to games. Not just because that would look unprofessional, it impairs your impartiality. Even if it doesn't make you write your stories slanted, it will change the opinion of the people around you. And having people discredit your writing for a perceived bias. Don't take the chance. (And for the record, I'm still not related to OU coach Greg Kampe.)
I'm a graduate of Oakland University and I cover the OU basketball team. Do you think I've ever applauded, even when Johnathon Jones hit a game-winning shot against Oral Roberts in an O'Rena packed with homecoming enthusiasts? Nope. In fact, even knowing Jones well, I had a hard time convincing myself it was OK to "friend" Jones on Facebook. Alas, I waited until the season was over before pursuing friendship.
Sure. I sure felt like clapping when Derick Nelson returned from debilitating back pain and had the game of his life, steering Oakland to the NCAA tournament. But I kept it to myself.
I often feel uneasy clapping for national anthem singers and other charitable causes. Not because I'm a horrible human being, but because slapping my palms together while I'm on the clock is quite amateurish.
I'm willing to bet the pair had their credentials yanked. I wonder if they even still have jobs. One woman in Arkansas wasn't so lucky.
Reporter Renee Gork, of KAKS, a radio station devoted to Arkansas sports, wore the hat of her alma matter to a press conference held by Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino. He called Gork out for wearing the hat. Not because it was a fashion faux pas, but because the hat was emblazoned with the emblem of Razorback rival Florida, Gork's former college. She insists she wasn't making any statement by wearing the hat, but rather grabbed it as she left the house because it had been raining. Sorry lady. Don't buy it. I'm not going to be wearing my Oakland jacket to the NCAA tournament in Milwaukee because it's chilly, just like she should have had the presence of mind not to wear a ballcap of any distinction to work. Get an umbrella with your first paycheck at your new job.
Here's to hoping people get their acts together next week.


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