Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Mr. Neutral

Ran across this gem from an old Scoop chat:

(The occasion was Reggie Miller's retirement after the Pacers bowed out of the playoffs to Detroit):

Eric - Boston, MA: Being at the game last night, what was the feeling like as Reggie received his ovation from both teams? What was it like as Miller walked off the court for the last time?

Scoop Jackson: The first thing Michael Smith, RAchel Nichols and I asked eachother was Can we remember any athlete that went out this way. The only person we could come up with was Elway. It was a huge stage, not the Super Bowl, but it was that kind of atmosphere. And it was very fitting and justified and even though us in the media, we're not supposed to clap for anybody, well, we were on our feet cheering for Reggie. You have to.

Do you really believe that Scoop? That you're not supposed to clap for anybody? Isn't your journalistic m.o. essentially to pick a player you like and gush like Old Faithful? Come on, Scoop, I read your Tiger column, your White Sox column - heck, you admitted you were a Knicks fan in the same chat ("Being at the game last night was really special ... even though I'm a die hard Knick fan.")! Scoop, you give more clap than Wilt.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not clapping or cheering for players or teams derives from press box etiquette. It's presented as a request, suggestion, or recommendation, but it's basically a rule.

While "the rule," so to speak, does not govern the content a writer produces, in this case it serves as a tool to further the intent of the column.

In some press boxes the rule is posted in sign form and is sometimes verbally reiterated prior to a game by a moderator who also announces that stat sheets will be distributed at given times during the game, which room a post-game press conference will take place, when the lockerrooms will open to reporters, and other similar things.

The rule, which is supposed to serve as an extension to the idea that journalists shouldn't conduct any aspect of their job with bias, over time has unofficially devolved to serve as a mere guide for the physical actions of a journalist while on the job. In that sense, it's become somewhat of a hollow tradition, symbolic of times when the rule was followed based on its intent.

Today the rule also unofficially attempts to serve as an aid in keeping press boxes civil since some reporters, mainly beat writers, do unwittingly become attached to the teams they cover, or develop other inherent biases as a result of covering a particular team or player.

The symbolism in ignoring the rule to clap for a player in a moment such as when Scoop Jackson and other journalists clapped for Reggie Miller looks beyond the rule to recognize and respect one or more factors: that Miller was an outstanding basketball player who contributed epic moments to the game, that over the course of his career he achieved at levels many others couldn't, and that he was beloved and would be missed by fans and journalists alike.

The recognition and respect Jackson gave Miller in that moment by clapping was an unofficially accepted violation of the rule. Because the violation of that rule serves as a main point in the column to extend the recognition and paying of respect beyond the moment for readers to understand, the notion of bias in that column is irrelevant to biases perceived in other columns.

2:02 AM  
Anonymous Scoopwatch said...


Thanks for the update. It provides the sort of nuance and insight a mere fan like myself can't provide. I won't edit my post, but I hope readers click on your comment for a different perspective.

I wonder, though, if Scoop really considers himself a journalist in the sense described in your comment. Elsewhere (I cited it in an earlier post), Scoop unequivocally eschewed the label of "journalist." And he certainly makes little or no effort to contain his biases in other columns. (And I'd cavil with your characterization of those as merely "perceived biases.")

Thanks for the comment,


1:16 AM  

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