Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Sports reporters have access to information, but don't share that information to preserve their access.

I’m listening to “TSN Drive” with Dave Naylor, Dave Hodge and Darren Dreger, and they’re talking about the Dave Feschuk story on Steve Spott and his take on Phil Kessel.

All three are downplaying the story, saying it’s nothing new, “nothing that we don’t already know about Phil Kessel and his relationship with his coach”, or words to this effect. And I wonder what they mean by ‘we’.

I’ve gone off on this topic before, but it seems to me to be a classic case of reporters knowing stuff, being told stuff, and not passing it on, since they’re trying to stay on the good side of the organization they’re covering, the cash cow that the company they work for depends on. They’re protecting their access, and their sources, but again these don’t serve us, the consumers, it serves these ‘insiders’ who wallow in this cesspool, and only allude to the truth or these incidents in covered, indefinite terms.

Phil Kessel is routinely described as enigmatic, prickly, difficult with the media, and sometimes getting special treatment from the team, but that can mean anything.

Now we get facts, we get data, we get an incident and case study. What I would want to know now would be how common is it that a player refuses to go along with a drill or strategy, and how was that dealt with in the past. Is this part of the back and forth between players and coaches? Does this happen once to a Mike Ribeiro and he gets a meeting with the coach, and on the second incident he gets shipped out? Or does a Chris Pronger regularly tell a coach to go eff himself, and everyone shrugs and moves on, and says: “That’s Chris…”

Phil Kessel is objectively described as being 15 pounds overweight, and that is not discussed either, they repeat that the comments were told somewhat “tongue in cheek”, that he was sort of joking. So what does that mean again? When I tell a story to a group of people, I’m usually joking too, that’s why people gather around and hush up when I speak; I throw them a couple of nuggets to thank them for their raptness. But what does it mean with this statement? He’s only 12 pounds overweight? Why don’t the reporters say it clearly, yes he is overweight when he plays, when he comes into camp, with this explanation, or no, he’s in acceptable shape compared to his peers.

This is relevant to us sports fan who follow our teams on social media, how we read entrails and make mountains out of molehills, but we don’t really have a choice, since very often this info that we base our discussion on isn’t complete or reliable. We often castigate each other for harping on rumours, but really that’s what we have to work with is rumours, since you can’t get a straight answer out of a reporter, who’s keeping his info to himself, and will dole out this info based on how the wind is blowing, or once the player is traded.

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