Public Notice for Sportswriters: Curb Your Entitlement!


May 19, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) pumps his fist in the second half in game one of the Western Conference Finals of the NBA Playoffs against the Houston Rockets at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

As an aspiring sportswriter myself, it pains me to my core when I hear about something or see something in the news that does not do sportswriting any good and reinforces a stereotype that we’re just a bunch of old, out-of-touch scribes who have never had a life.

Case in point: Brian Windhorst.

After the Golden State Warriors’ Game One victory over the Houston Rockets in the NBA’s Western Conference Finals, coaches and players took to the podium for their postgame press conferences.

One of those players was Steph Curry, who had a special guest with him—his daughter Riley Curry.

Riley was the story of the press conference, and added a bit of color to the typical black and white of postgame pressers.

Most of the time, the press asks some questions and the answers the coaches and players can be so predictable they can almost be written down with a Sharpie on printer paper before the first coach or player takes the podium!

This is not to slam postgame press conferences. Postgame pressers are important, but Ric Bucher, Brian Windhorst, Skip Bayless, and others felt that Riley Curry’s presence at that presser was so distracting to their ability to file in their stories on deadline that they actually want the NBA to ban kids from future postgame pressers.

Are. You. Kidding. Me.

There are a lot of fans who already believe that us sportswriters are just a bunch of old, washed-up, middle-aged, out-of-touch scribes who are seemingly always in front of a laptop.

There are a lot of players who probably believe that the media is simply invading their privacy and probably would not like it if they themselves were forced to ask questions about their job to a press that actually covered the press.

Comments from Windhorst, Bayless, and the rest do not do anything to quash those stereotypes. They only reinforce them.

There are so many things that are incorrect with what they are saying there could be too many to try to cram into one common. But, I will try to do it anyway.

Firstly, why are Windhorst, Bayless, and other sportswriters trying to get involved in how Steph Curry behaves as a father? I would hope that anyone with a son that was watching Curry’s portion of that postgame press conference would think that they’d rather emulate the way Curry is as a dad rather than the way…say…Adrian Peterson is as a dad.

Secondly, is Brian Windhorst at any length to talk about anything sportswriting related? Windhorst’s name began to be established when he was the Cleveland Cavaliers beat writer for the Cleveland Plain Dealer. When LeBron James made his move to “take his talents to South Beach,” Windhorst promptly got a high profile gig at ESPN with its HeatIndex blog.

When the King returned to the Land of Cleve, so did Windhorst.

Thirdly, Skip Bayless. Enough said.

Fourthly, the “sanctity of the postgame press conference” bit is rich like Richie Rich. This coming from the same sports press that regularly butchers the sanctity of baseball’s Hall of Fame vote and the same sporting scribes that have an entire day (albeit entertaining) devoted to them a week prior to the Super Bowl.

Remember, the NFL is turning Media Day into an event, not just a day.

Plus, “sanctity of the postgame press conference” is a phrase used only by someone in the media who apparently could be taking their job a bit too seriously.

To Windhorst and others who acted as if they were covering the Amtrak train crash in Philadelphia and not a basketball game, you are covering a SPORTING EVENT. If you want to be a war correspondent for Fox News or CNN, New York City is only a hop, skip, and a jump away from the four-letter campus in Bristol, Connecticut!

Not to mention, Riley Curry at the press conference was a story in itself. A heartwarming story of a kid and of someone who has his priorities straight by recognizing that being a family man is more important than acquiescing to the whims of bored media pundits—none of whom, by the way, are doing their jobs for free either (hint, hint).

Look, I am no Brian Windhorst. He has made it. I am trying to do the same and I know that will take a while, if ever. But, I think sometimes as sportswriters and media people, we need to have a come-to-Jesus meeting and ask ourselves how important we really are—to the fans and to the players.

The job of the sportswriter is to be the link between the fan and the team or league. Sportswriters, especially those assigned to specific beats, are supposed to gather information about a team and relay that info to the public, even if it may not be to the liking of PR people and sports information departments.

We have a big role to fill, and in many ways we are still fighting for respect, especially those who are women with aspirations to become sports media people. But whining like this from Windhorst, Bayless, Bucher, Colin Cowherd (who also isn’t doing his ESPN radio show for free either) and others only reinforces negative stereotypes about sportswriters and journalism as a profession.

We were also the same media that continuously threw an (unnecessary) fit during this year’s Super Bowl when the Seattle Seahawks’ Marshawn Lynch would not provide anything quotable that probably would have made for good copy.

As sportswriters, we need to recognize that we are not owed anything. When we’re in hot pursuit of a story, it is our job to do the digging, not the players’ job.

Yes, we hope players will want to speak to us, but if it is not the player(s) that we want to speak to us, talk to other players. The same goes for coaches. The last time I checked, Curry was not the only player or coach that was in front of an NBA TV microphone after Tuesday night’s Dubs/Clutch City tilt.

Steve Kerr, Kevin McHale, or one of the other Warriors or Rockets players could have provided something that could have made for better copy and a better follow-up story than Curry would have.

Are we as sportswriters important? Yes, we are because we are that link between the team and the fans. Sometimes, we have an inflated sense of celebrity because of the fact that we are regularly around these players and coaches.

If we are talking professional athletes in the major sports, sportswriters have an inflated sense of celebrity that because they are around individuals and a team that makes millions of dollars that they themselves are worth millions of dollars.

As any aspiring journalist will be told (as I have been told on numerous occasions) if you are going to choose in what capacity you want to be involved with sports with based on money, it is much better to get that butt in the weight room because that is where the big bucks are—not in sportswriting.

Too many sportswriters have this holier-than-thou attitude think because they are journalists that they are the most important people in the world. That has to change if fans are to regain respect for those in our profession.

Recently, the Washington Nationals’ Bryce Harper was involved in an altercation with home plate umpire Marvin Hudson after a game at Nationals Park between the Nats and New York Yankees—one which the Nats won 3-2 over the Bronx Bombers.

Hudson supposedly was getting angry at Harper because he stepped out of the batter’s box. Harper was also observed complaining about a strike call that he thought was a ball, but it was not anything that would have prompted a heated exchange between the Nats’ rising star and the man in blue—at least not at first.

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When Harper stepped out of the box, that’s when Hudson started mouthing off at Harper. When Harper was on his back to the box (and probably had some more choice words for Blue), Hudson ejected Harper from the game. Nats manager Matt Williams also got the heave-ho.

A lot of media types are also believing that Harper should not have got the axe, but it also is an attempt to change their own narrative on that issue since many of the same personalities were tubthumbing for new “speed-up-the-game” rules, including prohibiting batters from stepping out of the box.

Harper made mention of the fact that season ticket holders to sporting events are not paying to see umpires make it all about them.

Windhorst and other sports writers who feel like players should be kissing their feet need to get the memo that fans are not paying season tickets to watch pundits on press row or to pave their way into postgame news conferences to hear sportswriters regurgitate the same list of inquiries that they have after every game.

After all, sportswriters are not paying the $$$ that the regular fan does to get into the game. And they are afforded access the regular fan does not have the luxury of acquiring.

Instead of being happy that we get to do something we love, we still find reason to complain.

It is not the job of the media to be a team or league’s PR outlet (looking at you Bryan Price) just as it is not the job of players to be available to the press at their beck and call just because they’re on a tight deadline.

Sportswriters, let us have a come-to-Jesus meeting. Let us come to the table. Let us realize that while we may fufill an important duty to our readers and viewers (who, in the grand scheme of things, are our real bosses). Let us do our jobs to the best of our ability, but let’s stop expecting that people are just supposed to cater to us whenever we say so.

Because it only enhances the stereotype that we’re know-it-alls with big egos just because we are on the radio, or in newspapers, or on television. I was taught that as much as you want to know about the team or sport you cover, you cannot possibly know as much as those you are covering.

They are actually playing, eating, sleeping, drinking, breathing, and living the sport they are involved. We just write about it and (sometimes) pretend to be experts.

The next time there is something like this that happens, make good of it. As the old saying goes, make lemonade out of lemons or orange juice from oranges. Turn it into a positive and do not let it affect you because then it will simply look like you cannot do your job and only have your position because you know someone not necessarily because of your skill.

Because Riley Curry may be only a little kid, but she showed more maturity and was more of a grown-up at that press conference than those that complained about her appearance at the press conference.

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