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Pittsburgh PG Story on Santonio Holmes: Is it Fair?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by daemon, Jun 28, 2006.

  1. DyePack

    DyePack New Member

    He needs to change his name to Dontonio.
  2. jackfinarelli

    jackfinarelli Well-Known Member

    I'm a tad concerned at the willingness of Messr. Herock to speak in such detail here. After all, he provided a professional service to Santonio Holmes - much as a counsellor/mentor. I realize there is no strict confidentiality privilege here as there would be with a doctor/patient, but isn't anyone a bit concerned that this guy revealed so much private info about his client?

    Just asking...
  3. somewriter

    somewriter Member

    I think he mostly is revealing how much he failed. Why would I hire this guy when he clearly hasn't done his job very well and then blabbered about it afterward? More career suicide than anything.
  4. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest

    Without highjacking the thread, a couple of philosophical questions to broaden the discussion:

    1) Why run this piece at all?

    2) Of what possible material interest is this young man's private life to the PG or to its readers?

    3) If he can catch a football, what business is it of theirs how he chooses to live?

    4) When does a draft choice become a moral judgment?

    5) Finally, synchronous to the 49 other minority issues threads this week, why do "background" pieces of this kind, the ones written from an obvious premise of moral judgment, overwhelmingly focus on African-American athletes?
  5. zagoshe

    zagoshe Well-Known Member

    Now who is making assumptions about who. Maybe I grew up in an area not much different than you are talking about and was fortunate enough to have a dad around and saw the advantages I had that many of my friends did not.

    And if you are truly a social worker, then I would assume you do understand that background -- how you grew up, what you learned, the things you were taught, the things that were around you -- do have a big influence on your life.

    Not every kid growing up in a bad neighborhood will turn into a single father that does crime, but the percentages are a lot higher and the chances are much greater. That much is a fact and if we want to turn this into a thead about the socio-economic influences on crime in this country we can. The overwhelming common denominator among people in prison isn't color or race, it is poverty.

    Beyond having sex -- kids do stupid things. Don't tell me you didn't. Did you ever binge drink at a phrat party? Did you ever street race with your buddies? Did you ever mess around with fire works -- there are consequences and choices that kids make every day and a lot of the time they don't use their head. They act impulsively.

    That's part of the maturity process. That's part of growing up.

    When I was younger I used to street race in cars at high speeds -- because I liked the thrill. Thankfully, I never wrecked, but I had a few friends who died in car crashes, and one who has been in a chair for the past 15 years. Looking back, it was dumb and we knew it at the time.

    For you and anyone else to take this approach that somehow a guys character is defined by some stupid things he did when he was growing up -- be it having unprotected sex or speeding in a car -- is sanctimonious, hypocritcal and pathetic.

    There are clearly consequences for your actions, some are just more visible than others.
  6. zagoshe

    zagoshe Well-Known Member

    That's the point -- Holmes is still just a KID. He will hopefully grow up. He will hopefully make better choices. But the holier-than-thou attitude some of you take when discussing these KIDS and the choices they've made is ridiculous.

    The legal stuff is troubling and nobody is here giving him a free pass. I just think the tone of some of the criticism -- similiar to the tone of the criticism of Roethlisberger, or Kellen Winslow or Jay Williams -- is absurd.

    Like I said, some of you act like you never were 18 or 19 and made bad decisions -- did dumb things knowing they were wrong or dumb. The difference between you and I and many others is we either didn't get caught or got extremely lucky. THAT has nothing to do with background and everything to do with growing up.

    And the Division I basketball team I am around most has 14 scholarship players and on last year's roster, at least seven of them had kids --- two had multiple kids -- and all of them are black and from urban neighborhoods. That's probably just a coincidence though.
  7. zagoshe

    zagoshe Well-Known Member

    He's not a millionaire yet and if you don't think the combination of his background + most likely never having any consequences for his actions because the so-called adults in his life viewed him as a meal ticket out of that life aren't reasons for some of the decisions he's made, then you are an ass and frankly I question your credentials as a social worker.

    He conceived the first two children when he was still a teenager and probably thought he was in love because it was with the same girl and they are two years apart. His third child is with his current girlfriend. By all accounts I've read he takes care of all three and if he continues to do so - and he will have the financial ability to do so -- then he's obviously taken responsibility for his choices.
  8. armageddon

    armageddon Active Member

    Zag: Not trying to be a prick at all but I'm confused.

    Regarding the topic of North Carolina's "choke" you assert that since they're on Division I scholies they are fair game.

    But here you assert that we need to make an effort to realize Holmes is just a kid?

    That seems, ahem, a bit inconsistent from my seat in the box.
  9. zagoshe

    zagoshe Well-Known Member

    Two things -- I have NEVER said someone shouldn't be held accountable for their actions, regardless of their age.

    Secondly, the two issues are not remotely close ---

    my view is this -- if you are good enough to play Division I anything, you've likely been trained your whole life to field a ground ball, catch a pass, kick a field goal -- you are as close to a pro without being a pro as one can be and thus, if you fail to perform there is usually a reason. Sometimes it is a bad day. Sometimes it is an unlucky break. Sometimes the pressure gags you and when that happens, it is fair game.

    Off the field is an entirely different animal all together because of the diverse backgrounds people come from and how each individual was raised.
  10. zagoshe

    zagoshe Well-Known Member

    I'm an apologist? I'm making excuses? I'm overlooking destructive behavior?

    Give me a break. That's not even close to the truth. I'm just not willing to burn every kid at the stake because they make some bad decisions, and who knows what those decisions actually were. Like I said, it sounds to me like he's had two long time girlfriends and got them both pregnant. I'm willing to cut him slack and give him the benefit of the doubt on the kids.

    The legal stuff is much more alarming because these are indeed acts at age 22, but then again, if you were born, bred and raised to believe that there are no consequences for your actions because you are a superstar, how would you act? Do you think maybe your maturing process would be retarded some? Do you think you'd grow up with a sense of entitlement -- that you don't have to listen and obey the law?

    I think what Mr. Holmes is going through right now is society's way of smacking him in the face with reality -- letting him know that even stars have to be accountable and that their are consequences for his actions.

    Now how he responds will tell me far more about his character then him having three kids out of wedlock.

    I'm saying there are reasons people do the things they do, and their background, the values they were given by their families, the culture they grew up in, has a big influence. If you don't believe that's the case then you are an idiot with your head shoved up your ass. We don't live and grow up in a vaccum.

    As for the point of this thread -- the story was fair because he is obviously a very public figure but the "counselor" in question should never be hired again because he obviously has no idea how the counselor-patient dynamic is supposed to work and why confidentiallity is so important.
  11. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest

    Because the top draft pick of the most important team in town is in danger of being suspended by the NFL.

    In that case I'd say the real story is why he was chosen in the first place. The PG should be talking to the Steelers' GM - instead of hounding the loose-lipped charm-school tutor the organization hired to make Holmes seem presentable to the ticket buyers.

    If you're saying it's not of interest, the same arguement could be made for not writing about Ben Rothleisberger's habit of not wearing a helmet while riding his motorcycle, which -- of course -- turned out to have plenty of material interest.

    Then why didn't the PG write about that, when it was widely known by anyone who'd ever seen him on a motorcycle that BR liked to ride without a helmet?

    The story illustrates a history of bad decision-making for an athlete whose bad decision-making has now left him in danger of being suspended and hurting the most important team in town.

    I said material interest - as in something that touches the readers' actual lives, as opposed to their entertainments and diversions. Would that the PG - or any other newspaper for that matter - spent as much time and energy poring over the personal histories and criminal records and psychological profiles of county commissioners or ward chairmen or city contractors, police chiefs or utility-board members, or any of the thousands of public figures whose "bad decision making" has a measurable daily impact on the lives of the readership.

    See the motorcycle helmet issue above.

    But secondly, the fact is if Holmes were conducting a huge charity golf event to raise money to send Pittsburgh kids to camp, the PG would be all over that as well. "Rookie makes big splash in community" yadda yadda yadda. Why? Because the community cares.

    We established long ago in journalism that you don't get to draw a line at the stadium or practice facility and say, sorry fellas, you can only write about what I do on this side of the line. Once you're a public figure, a lot becomes fair game.

    The line you describe outside the stadium wasn't established until the publication of "Ball Four", and it remains firmly in place for the athletes we, the sports writers, like. You only become "fair game" in two cases: One, you do something to alienate the establishment, i.e., the owners and/or the press. Two, you haven't got the leverage to kill the story. The Holmes story is a little bit of both.

    The charity golf event you describe would be another case of the sporting press typing up a press release on behalf of an athlete. When was the last time anyone in your area looked into the actual disbursement of the monies earned by those charity events?

    When you suspect the off-field behavior of a prospect might effect his ability to produce for you.

    Clearly, then, the Steelers made this choice from a position of thoroughgoing amorality. Aren't they, and their greedy moral relativism, the story?

    Easy answer: They don't. I see background pieces all the time on athletes of all colors in my local papers.

    I said, "the ones written from an obvious premise of moral judgment." Check the archives to compare the number of innocuous and uplifting "Johnny Jones All-American Up By His Muddy All-American Bootstraps to the Big Leagues" stories to the number of finger-wagging "Troubled Thug Johnny Jones Tries To Leave His Violent, Mistaken-Laden Inner City Past Behind Him." Let me know what you turn up.
  12. da man

    da man Well-Known Member

    One thing jcmacg is ignoring is the fact that Holmes has been arrested twice since the draft. So yes, if the police chief had been arrested twice after he was hired or a city councilman was arrested twice after he was elected, you can be damn sure reporters would be crawling all over them and their backgrounds looking for anything they could find to add to the story.

    The line clearly has been drawn that the story doesn't stop at the stadium walls. Especially when one faces charges and his actions outside the stadium could have a large effect on what happens inside the stadium. If the kid gets suspended, is it a story then? Of course. So the stuff that might lead to a suspension, as well as the background as to why it happened and whether it might happen again (is there a pattern of behavior?) is certainly fair game.

    And yes, the Steelers and their potentially shoddy decision-making should damn well be a story. But not the only story. The player's actions and background are very much a part of this story and very much part of the public's interest in it. Like it or not, the team is a matter of huge public interest and readers very much want to know about the players, especially high-profile ones like the top draft choice, probably even more than their elected officials.

    BTW, I don't think the Steelers hired Herock to make Holmes look presentable to the public. I believe Holmes hired him to make him look presentable to the teams doing the drafting. Herock worked with Holmes in January, three months before the draft.
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