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By TED SILLANPAA

It’s funny that I catch flak here for being just another media guy. That’s about the worst thing a reader can say to me because, really, I’m not just another media guy. I don’t travel with them. I don’t hang with them. They wouldn’t know me from their auto mechanic.

Check Twitter and the tweets from all the folks who really are the upper tier of the mainstream Bay Area sports media types. In most cases, they try to show us who they are and it winds up seeming that they don’t realize who they’re working for or why.

I’m not writing here about anyone I work with at The Press Democrat. I’ve been reading Lowell Cohn and Bob Padecky faithfully for years. If anything, when it comes to those guys … I’m Fan Boy, remembering that I admired how they did their job before I was doing anything close to the same job.

The beat writer who consistently complains about it being cold in the press box forgets that you and I would, for the most part, enjoy a seat in the press box regardless of the temperature. We think this writer knows what we care about when he complains about being cold … forgetting that we always sit outside at the ball park. (If that’s the guy trying to let us know who he is … he’s missing the point of how to use Twitter, probably. We don’t get to know the man behind the beat writer if he tweets that the evening’s performance of the Star Spangled Banner was too long or too loud or something.)

Major League Baseball announcers make a big deal about how hard it is for them to call the game from the press box high, high above the Washington Nationals’ ball park. Really? I actually tweeted one to remind him that most listeners would kill for his job and that if he just does the best he can, we’ll forgive him if the distance from the action causes during a radio call of a game.

At the Super Bowl, two female members of the media’s first report from inside the Superdome had them gleeful at the fact that being a female sports writer finally paid off because … there was a separate admission/security line for female sports media members. The women got into the press box without the long wait that men had.

If they’re at the Super Bowl, inside the stadium, that’s what they choose to share with readers? Their security line was shorter? How are readers who couldn’t afford to buy a Super Bowl ticket, let alone jet to New Orleans, receive that little backstage scoop?

Oh, you won’t read about me running around with other members of the sports media clique. First, like mentioned, I don’t hang around with them and they likely wouldn’t want to hang out with me. Second, I know that you know that nothing seems less interesting that, oh, that the Oakland Tribune columnist had beers and wings with a columnist from San Jose and that the writer from Los Angeles is too cheap to pick up the check.

The social media should let us get to know people and how they think. I’m pretty sure that you already feel like you know that the sports media elite lives in a world with problems far different than your problems. So, they aren’t helping us know them by complaining about who picks up the tab when, really, it’s probably all a job expense. You OK with buying your own beers and wings if you get to follow the 49ers around to do it?

The thing that should separate these media folks from us is that they have access to the players and coaches. They should get information that we can’t get. But, really, they almost never get information that wouldn’t leak to us eventually. So, they’re reduced to tweeting and blogging about the things mentioned here and just an endless stream of opinions, opinions on opinions, etc.

Players don’t befriend those people. When I was covering teams regularly, I realized quickly I was finally in a spot where my unwillingness to try to make friends would be no hindrance. Coaches and managers only tell these people what they want them to know. So, what do we get? Rumors that they circulate among each other. We get a Giants beat writer doing a nice job breaking the story that Melky Cabrera failed a drug test and then later apologizing to Cabrera because the player denied the story was true … and, we know, it turned out to be true.

That beat writer is a first-rate reporter, but … he had to make sure he didn’t lose his ability to talk to players so he apologized for reporting the truth about Cabrera before anyone else did. Working for readers might mean losing a working friendship sometimes, I suppose.

The idea that these folks know far more than we do about games and athletes is understandable. It’s just not necessarily true. For us to appreciate that they’re really that good, we need to know more about them than their opinion on the 49ers’ play-calling or the Giants’ bullpen. And, really, I’d be fine if I didn’t read any snark intended simply to incite readers … ever.

And, really, we don’t care if it’s cold in the press box.

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Comments

4 Comments

  1. Kb

    When I hear a stupid question from a reporter, either directed to an NFL coach, or the Pres, I always wonder if they realize that it’s a stupid question, or do they think they’re really smart or that THIER readers really want to know. Sometimes I think they just like hearing themselves talk.

    February 8th, 2013 4:59 pm

  2. overtime

    KB…They don’t think it’s a stupid question, honest. My initial experiences behind the scenes at sports events was that it was easy to deal with athletes and coaches … I knew they had a job to do. I had a job to do trying get information to write a story. It was most uncomfortable dealing with other members of the media who would clog up interview rooms with “Talk about the third quarter…” or waste the few minutes an athlete was willing to answer questions in the locker room with the most generic questions. They seemed to want the athlete to GIVE them their stories. More than a few times, I had to push to the front of a group and interrupt the people looking for sound bites or a story angle to ask a specific question of a guy and then be on my way. … Whether I’m covering a high school game or the World Series, if I didn’t see the most interesting story unfold and then only need to ask questions to get background for the story I saw unfold — I’m in trouble. TED

    February 8th, 2013 5:24 pm

  3. CohnZohn

    Ted, If you covered a game at the Superdome you would feel very cold. The press box used to be on the mezzanine level. They moved it up to the highest level, right under the air conditioning vents. I did not know this. When I covered the 49ers game at the Saints during the season, I didn’t dress properly — for the Arctic — and caught a cold which I gave to my wife which turned into pneumonia for her. I didn’t consider this humorous. I feel privileged to cover sports, but I did and do complain about the cold in that press box. I feel it is inconsiderate to human beings. As far as hanging out together, I admire your writing and editing and think you are a great guy. You sometimes take the stance you are an anti-sports writer or an un-sports writer. But you are, really, one of us. Nothing shameful in that. You should be proud. I’d love to hang out with you. Lowell

    February 9th, 2013 9:50 pm

  4. overtime

    Lowell…Thanks for reading. I hope you know I wasn’t referencing you. I was more referencing the folks on Twitter or other access to fans who have the ability to really take readers behind the scenes … who complain about things like being cold or the length of the anthem, etc. I’m proud of being a writer and continue to enjoy reading your work … and now working with you. You did here what they don’t typically do on Twitter or wherever and shed light on something folks wouldn’t understand. You’ve explained why being too hot or too cold in what amounts to your, our, workplace can be a problem. For the record, if I’d had Twitter or Facebook or been asked when I appeared on NBA TV (I realize I haven’t always been the un-sports writer) that the media seating when I covered the Lakers and, later, the Kings in the NBA playoffs left me so far above the floor that I could nearly touch the back wall of the arena and needed the TV monitors to see the game. It did start me on the path to being the fan who happened to write because…I turned my TV monitor so the fans around me could see it, too. Thanks, Ted

    February 9th, 2013 10:29 pm

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