Friday, August 13, 2004

Sports Scribes, Coverage, Journalists, -- Olympics in 2004

"Athens, in many ways, resembles a police state this week," Wise said. "You can't walk around without seeing scores of young Greek men with automatic weapons affixed to their waists."

Sure, there will be tension this week. It will be interesting to see if the USA squad stays within the rows as it enters the stadium for the opening parade. But, the humanity can still make for a buzz that is easily able to overcome the automatic weapons.

"We've had State Department briefings," said Terry McDonell, the managing editor of Sports Illustrated. "If the unthinkable happens, we have to be ready to be able to explain it and be inside the news."

Sportswriters and editors get annoyed when they hear suggestions that their beat isn't newsy in the first place. Meanwhile, in Pittsburgh, some in our sports departments are very happy to say that they are covering ENTERTAINMENT, not sports, not life, not news. And, when it comes to the harder, more interesting, more newsworthy elements -- they take a pass.

Sports are GAMES of TIME, SPACE and RELATIONSHIP. All elements matter in sports. Meanwhile, entertainment is like a movie in a cinema that can be played over and over again, in any place, in any time. Staged entertainers can use lights and really move one's emotions and build a following and toy with 'relationships.' But, that isn't sports. The distinctions are clear to people with real understandings of sports.

Sportswriters are professional reporters. They need editors who are real journalists too, even with a city beat.

Pittsburgh is a sports town -- despite the sports departments in the newspapers. The coverage is frail in certain areas. Steelers talk is always going to rule the day, but, the spectrum is wide and the day is long.

"Our strategy is to do the unusual, a story about someone unexpected who wins a medal and get the back story on an unexpected hero," Hoenig said.

For those of sports, this is not unusual. It is expected. Bring it on.

1 comment:

Mark Rauterkus said...

Jack McCallum of SI wrote in part:

See, we in the media are consistent in this regard: We ignore something as it grows, then we suddenly discover it en masse and proclaim it the story of the day, then we ignore it again when something else comes along. These four women are smart enough to know that, of course -- Miranda, for example, put off entry to Yale Law School to go for Olympic gold -- but they also know that the middle phase is infinitely preferable to the other two.