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Sportswriters who are friends with the players

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by FantasyAlliance.cm, Nov 21, 2006.

  1. henryhenry

    henryhenry Member

    i'm reading ryan's interview - he says it's okay to befriend a source

  2. fishwrapper

    fishwrapper Active Member

    That's enough evidence alone on why one shouldn't do it.
  3. Piotr Rasputin

    Piotr Rasputin New Member

    When dealing with younger athletes, there's a certain level of discourse that you can have (that you sometimes MUST have) in order to build a rapport that leads to quality work. That doesn't mean friendship or traveling in the same social circles. It's a different situation, in many ways.

    Now, when dealing with pros, it's always hilarious when people say they're buddies with these athletes. Or when they say "I was talking to such-and-such the other day. No, not interviewing, just chatting. I consider him/her a GOOD FRIEND."

    Really? Do you exchange Christmas cards? Or have you just happened to cover this person's exploits for a long time?

    These athletes aren't even close to the same tax bracket as we great unwashed. Acting like we're their friends is at best, an ass-kissing style of journalism, and at worst, a sad attempt to try to join that world that we should be objectively writing about.
  4. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    It's such a fine line... I was invited to the wedding of a player who I cover. I wrestled with it what to do for a few weeks and talked to my editor and another well-known writer who has been sort of a mentor about it...

    I went... I looked at it the way you would if a co-worker invited you to a wedding... After all, this is someone I've spent a ton of time covering for more than four years... For a wedding gift, I donated $75 to his foundation.

    Are we friends? I don't know... I've had two meals with him, both were work-related and I've been to his house once, also for a story. He's met my wife. I've met his. Both were in passing at a hotel where we both had happened to bring the family along.

    Do we talk about our personal lives? No, or at least not beyond small talk...

    Do we hang out? No.

    Have I written critical stories about his play? Yes...

    Does it bother him? Not in the slightest...

    Has he tipped me off to stories? Yes...

    I don't know where the line has to be drawn. But you don't work as a beat writer for an extended period of time without developing relationships. It's our job to make guys trust us. Some hate us. Some like us. Some tip me off to stuff, some would rather pay a $5K fine than say a word to me...

    Where's the line? I don't know...
  5. MCEchan36

    MCEchan36 Guest

    So is it safe to say that it's OK to actually be friends with a player, as long as there is a clear understanding that if news breaks, you as the writer HAVE to report it and that it's not personal?
  6. hondo

    hondo Well-Known Member

    Namath actually roomed with a sports writer during his early days with the Jets. Like that would ever happen again.
  7. patchs

    patchs Active Member

    I bet that guy was thrilled with Joe's leftovers!
  8. Smasher_Sloan

    Smasher_Sloan Active Member

    The money gap is probably the biggest reason it changed, but not the only one. Writers used to routinely take the team bus to and from the ballpark, fly the team charter and stay at the same hotels, which meant hanging out at the bar. A lot of teams don't let media on their buses and planes and the pursuit of points has led a lot of media types to find their own hotels.

    The older ballparks generally didn't have workout rooms and lounges with big screen TVs where the players could hang out in private. If you were in the clubhouse before the game, you were usually among the players, except for the few who might be in the trainers room. You know the visitors' clubhouse at Wrigley? A lot of them used to be like that. There's a lot less mingling these days.

    Being friends with a player has pitfalls you may not have considered. If you're friends with Joe Infield, everyone knows it. That's just the nature of a team. Now if you work your ass off and get a story about a scathing players-only clubhouse meeting that savaged the manager, your peers and the players are going to suspect Joe Infield told you. Not good for you, not good for him.

    You can be friendly with people without being friends. It's a good distinction to make.
  9. BYH

    BYH Active Member

    Michael Silver says yes, yes you can be friends with players.
  10. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    Well, it's an easier distinction for a national writer to make... Guys at SI don't have to write every time a player is in a shooting slump or about stupid day-to-day crap that beat writers have to...

    I think team charters may be the biggest reason why there is less interaction these days. Most teams play, and then fly off either to the next city or to home, with baseball and NBA and NHL playoff series as the exceptions...
  11. Ben_Hecht

    Ben_Hecht Active Member

    'Way back when, Namath roomed with Joe Hirsch, lead columnist of the Racing Form, for decades . . .
  12. i hate when adults call other adults "coach such and such"

    the guy's got a last name, probably
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