I remember reading about the early days of the NFL when coaches and owners had to do extraordinary things to even get a mention in the paper. College football was the “king of the hill” in those days and people were not convinced that Pro Football was going to last and that it was the best football played at the time.
Often, coaches and team managers might write their own copy. If they had a few bucks in their wallet’s they may have paid someone else to write their stories. Sometimes they had someone in the local paper who took a liking to the team and worked to promote them. As you might imagine, the stories that came from these efforts were about the games, the players, and the circumstances of the games. Most writers were not out to smear someone although they may have crossed the line a bit at times to get fans worked up about someone coming from out of town to play the home team.
If you read the stories in the media today about so many segments of our society, you find a brazen kind of “journalism” that seems hell-bent on getting the author or videographer their 15 minutes of fame regardless of the cost. It has spread to all sorts of subjects and lately this kind of garbage has taken an aim at sports.
Generally speaking, athletes, coaches, owners and others involved in sports are not necessarily saints, but it just seems like there are many angry people there want to dish the dirt at them even when there seems to be very little dirt to dish. I find it just gets more and more tiresome for the fan who is encouraged by the media to look at the home team so critically. To think that the coach who is working 16 hours a day to right his team after a losing streak is somehow complacent in everything bad that has happened. Many of the press want to jump on the negative bandwagon and believe that the coach of the year just 3 years ago is a terrible leader and needs to be fired? The team is called cheap a few years ago and they go out of their way to sign some notable stars that come with a very high price point. They get cheers for what seems like a few months, but then injuries occur and the bandwagon tilts again to the negative–they might not be cheap any more, but they are spending their money foolishly. When a former coach is fired after 8 seasons, the team was not patient enough. When the next coach is fired after 2 years, why did they wait so long. They sign a coach with great promise, but most of the media smells blood when they are working to regroup in a tough season.
What is the sports reporter’s job today? Critique everyone else’s efforts like a movie reviewer with the honesty and integrity of a gossip columnist. Second guess every play and point out each and every play that does not work during a game.
Sports like life itself has its ups and downs, but judging people so harshly during the season is a recipe for failure not success. Let the team do their thing, make adjustments where they can and get on with the games. Let the fans be fans. We might not like the results of a close game, but hey, it was a close game! The margin between winning and losing can be very small, but throwing a barage of negative opinions out there only makes it more difficult–and frankly it makes it difficult to view a game as entertainment when the reporters want to make sound like a political convention.