In today’s age of social media, sports coverage has transformed into a job where immediate access is not only expected, it’s demanded. Beat writers are constantly tweeting and posting about the team they’re covering and there’s a reason for that; it’s their job. The relationship between the media and athletes is often tenuous and, unfortunately, there has been a relatively-recent trend where athletes and coaches lash out at the reporters that cover them.
The Attack on the Media
This past Monday, Bryan Price, manager of the Cincinnati Reds baseball team, went on a 77 f-bomb tirade to C. Trent Rosecrans, a reporter for the Cincinnati Enquirer. The issue, you see, was that Rosecrans (accurately) reported that catcher Devin Mesoraco was not available to pinch-hit late in a particular game. Price took exception to the fact that this information was made public. His main argument was that this report was detrimental to the team and some information should not be shared with the public.
Aside from Price looking like a lunatic in national news, he also added on to the assault of journalists and reporters everywhere. NFL running back Marshawn Lynch became an internet sensation when his ongoing battle with media climaxed on Super Bowl media day when he answered every single question with “I’m here so I won’t get fined.”
The media ultimately complained about Lynch’s actions. These writers have a job to do and he wasn’t being cooperative. The public saw this complaint and attacked media members, pointing out that Lynch’s comments gave them a great story to write and that what Lynch gave them was better than the typical quotes they get from athletes anyway. In a battle between the funny athlete and the whining media, the media never really stood a chance.
So not only do the media members not get the quotes they need for their stories, they become the villain for trying to force the $31 million Marshawn Lynch talk to them (which, by the way, Lynch is contractually obligated to do).
Similarly, after the Winnipeg Jets game 3 loss on home ice the other night, Jets defenceman Dustin Byfuglien had to field questions about his dirty hit on Anaheim Ducks forward Corey Perry. Byfuglien did his best Marshawn Lynch impression.
A reporter’s job is to provide accurate and timely information to the fans. A part of an athlete’s job is to talk to the media and make themselves available to answer questions. They don’t have to answer every question thrown their way but they have to provide some kind of substance.
You can almost make the case that athlete’s have to work for the media members. But it’s not the other way around. The media doesn’t have to serve the team. That’s what Bryan Price doesn’t understand. The media isn’t meant to act as a public relations team for a sports franchise. Price felt that the Reds were put at a disadvantage because news broke that a quality player wasn’t available to play. But the media isn’t supposed to help a team win. They’re supposed to report. And when Dustin Byfuglien and Marshawn Lynch make a mockery of the reporting process, it affects the relationship between the media and the players and it unnecessarily makes the media come off as whiny and self-important.
With apps like Twitter, Vine, and Periscope, reporting is an all new ballgame where the press have greater power and a stronger connection with fans. The best way for them to do their job is with the cooperation of the athletes and the understanding of the public. Because, when reporting is done correctly, it gives fans great information and the wonderful insight into the sporting world that they desire.