I am not, by trade, a professional sports writer. I just happened to fall into writing here for Bleacher Report because I love the game of soccer and enjoy sharing (and hearing) opinions on it.
So please understand I am in no way qualified to be an authoritative judge on other people's journalistic endeavors. Yet there was an article today that touched off a nerve deep inside me.
Martin Samuel of the Daily Mail wrote a piece on soccer needing a "gay hero" to step up and usher in this watershed moment for the sport. If the piece would have been solely about this topic it may have been a credible read, but Mr. Samuel made it an appalling work (in my opinion) by saying Joey Barton should be the man to do it.
I do not know if Mr. Samuel was trying to be funny, or if he harbors ill will toward Barton. Whatever the intentions, journalism has no place for this type of garbage.
If a writer wants to give their opinion on a player's actions on the pitch or a documented run-in with the law, etc...then that's fair game. When a writer goes into items of a personal nature for the sake of humor or to put down a player they do not care for, then in my book a line has been crossed.
Barton has had enough antics on and off the pitch over the years to provoke someone to write an opinion piece. This was not one of those pieces.
Mr. Samuels goes as far as to say the following:
‘Well, of course he put his cigar out in that bloke’s face, Gary. He was a tortured soul, forced to live a lie.’
And imagine the new material. A never-ending treasure trove for Barton’s Twitter feed: Alexander the Great, Leonardo da Vinci, Oscar Wilde, Lady Bunny.
And, let’s face it, with that new accent, he’s probably halfway there.
I do not personally know Joey Barton, and he certainly does not need me to defend him, but an article like this must be called out. It is offensive on many levels to Barton, his family and the gay community.
I could not imagine my wife or my children reading or hearing about an article like this about me. I know as a father, seeing my name associated with this is something I would never want to have to explain to my kids. No matter what one feels about Barton, this type of public defamation is uncalled for and unacceptable.
Martin Samuel's next piece should be a sincere apology letter to those involved. These types of articles burn bridges that cannot be repaired.
It is our responsibility as voices in the media to make sure our words and thoughts are chosen carefully and relayed properly, respectively. I feel Mr. Samuel forgot about this responsibility when writing his article.
Hopefully he will get the message and do what is necessary to correct it.