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So a coach tried to bar me from covering football (official new thread title)

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by kingcreole, Nov 9, 2012.

  1. kingcreole

    kingcreole Active Member

    Not from anyone at my paper. Nosiree Bob ... the college I cover, well, the football coach shoots me a long text message Wednesday night (while on basketball deadline) and tells me I am no longer welcome at practice, at the football offices or to interview the players. Why? For being "too negative."

    The conference championship game is this weekend, and right now, my editor and I are leaning toward not covering the game at all. But before I get more into that, let me set some background.

    Covering Podunk College means I'm the main media person. There's radio and local TV will broadcast anywhere from one to three games a season. But as far as consistent media coverage, I'm it. I do about four stories a week (preview, gamer, notes and feature). I go to all the conference road games, some of which are 10 hour roundtrips driving. I'm dedicated. I do the absolute best I can and I don't half-ass anything.

    Podunk's coach has been here six seasons. We butted heads a couple times early on, and it was usually via text message. He once told me he would not talk to me the week his team was ranked No. 4 and they were playing at the No. 3 team. The SID and AD smoothed it out, and things were cool until he tried to no-comment me after Podunk got waxed 30-0. I told him I had to talk to him. He spins around with a crazed look. The SID student assistant told me later he thought the coach was going to smash my face in. The coach did cool off after I retreated to the pressbox to gather my stuff, and since then, things have been fine.

    I've had a pretty good relationship with the coach since. He's actually one of the few coaches I can have a non-sports-related discussion with.

    Like I said, the conference championship game is this weekend. Podunk is playing Championship College, which is a juggernaut. Podunk hasn't beaten them since 1997. Podunk is in the midst of some of its best football ever. They pretty much kill everyone in the conference, but cannot beat Championship. The last five meetings have been beatdowns, including a 33-point smashing at Podunk this year. A story I wrote this week included some numbers from the last five games, like the closest margin of defeat was 18 points, twice they've been shutout and three times have not scored an offensive touchdown. The players I talked to gave me the generic, "We've got to stop making so many mistakes." "We can beat them if we play our game." "We have just as much talent. They just make you pay for mistakes."

    One line I wrote in the story compared the showdowns (from Podunk's vantage) as similar to many Chicago Cubs seasons - lot of hope and excitement, but the result is the same.

    Coach didn't like that comparison. I admit it may not have worded beautifully, but the analogy was fair. The long text was sent, and that's where we're at.

    My editor is pissed and told me I could either go to the game and cover it from Championship's vantage or not cover it at all and just write a short from a boxscore. We're certain the ME would support those alternatives.

    The SID (a former newspaper guy) and AD are not happy with the situation, essentially taking my side. I have called the coach and left a lengthy message, encouraging him to call me back to sort it out. It's been nearly 24 hours and he has not called back. I left a text. No reply. The AD told me last night he has tried to call/text the coach also but has not heard back. He assured me he would take care of the situation.

    So that's where we're at. I could go out to practice today I suppose with the SID and see what happens. But I'm so pissed about this shit that I'm on the brink of saying, "Fuck it."

    The question is what should I do? Go to the game and try to cover it like I do any other game and deal with a possible on-the-field confrontation after Podunk (likely) gets drilled again? Or do I not go? Like I said, the SE is all for not going, and the ME likely wouldn't care. It's hard to know what the right thing to do is. I mean, if Podunk wins, it will be one of the biggest wins in school history. But again, there's a way to treat people and a way to act, and the way the coach has been acting to me is bullshit. I've butted heads with many coaches through the years. The former volleyball coach at Podunk and I had a few confrontations. But we always had our say, we shook hands, and it was over. Never have I been barred like this.

    Any tips, advice or similar stories would be appreciated.
  2. Re: So I've been barred from covering football

    Buy a ticket and cover it from the stands. If the SE hasn't told your ME, that's an idiotic move.
  3. Gator

    Gator Well-Known Member

    Re: So I've been barred from covering football

    It sounds like SID is on your side, so you shouldn't have a problem getting a spot in the pressbox. I'd hate to say it, but the readers don't give a shit that you've been treated poorly, or that you've bumped heads with the coach over the years. They want the story, and you have to give it to them. You're not there for the coach, you're there for the readers.

    I'd go to the game, certainly talk to the Championship coach and see what you can get from Podunk. If you get quotes, great, if not, just write it straight. But you need to write something. Readers will know if you're not there, and it's only going to look bad for you, not the program.
  4. slc10

    slc10 Member

    Re: So I've been barred from covering football

    Attend the game and any press conference held afterward. This guy has to realize that you work for the paper and not Podunk U. He also need to realize that you do a lot more good than bad.
  5. cvincent40

    cvincent40 New Member

    Re: So I've been barred from covering football

    I do not know who or where you are, but supposedly you are a professional. Go to work. It's that simple. Do your job.
  6. Norrin Radd

    Norrin Radd New Member

    Re: So I've been barred from covering football

    Go to the game and cover it like any other.

    Except this time, bring an intern with a flip cam or iPhone whose only job is to shoot video of every time you deal with an athlete or coach from Podunk. Preserve it for posterity, and watch the web hits come rolling in.
  7. EStreetJoe

    EStreetJoe Well-Known Member

    Re: So I've been barred from covering football

    Like SLC said, go to the game and cover it and go to the press conference afterwords. Since its the championship, I'll assume there will be other media there besides you, so go to the post-game press conference and get quotes.
  8. JackReacher

    JackReacher Well-Known Member

    Re: So I've been barred from covering football

    The Cubs, huh?
  9. Gator

    Gator Well-Known Member

    Re: So I've been barred from covering football

    How do you know there will be a press conference? I have a Division III team playing in a conference title game this weekend, and I'm certainly not expecting a press conference when it's done. It'll be just like any other game. When the coaches get done with a postgame speech, just grab who you need.
  10. kingcreole

    kingcreole Active Member

    Re: So I've been barred from covering football

    No formal press conferences afterward, just an on-the-field cluster.

    I'm leaning toward going to the game and just doing what I can. Championship coach is a good guy. Not worried about him if they win/lose.

    And this game is at Championship College, not Podunk. Even if it was at Podunk, the SID would never deny me access to the pressbox.
  11. kingcreole

    kingcreole Active Member

    Re: So I've been barred from covering football

    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 1, 2015
  12. SportsGuyBCK

    SportsGuyBCK Member

    Re: So I've been barred from covering football

    1. Your SE should have gone to your ME about this right after finding out from you ... if he/she still hasn't, then have them do so immediately, as well as the publisher/general manager ... one thing upper management does not like is NOT getting a heads up from subordinates about things that could ultimately lead to a lot of phone calls from readers and/or advertisers ...

    2. Find out just how much the SID and AD have your back on this ... if they really do, then I agree with the above -- you will have a seat in the press box ... as for getting to the players, the SID should be able to help there, especially if Podunk pulls off the win ... if the coach still wants to play harda##, then let him -- if Podunk wins, he just comes out looking bad ...
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