In every facet of sports, there will always be fans wanting to meet a favorite athlete.
These people have waited hours just to see their idol and get one thing from them: an autograph.
No matter what the game is, die-hard fans will do anything to get a scribble from these professionals, and Sunday’s Denver Broncos game proved that in spades. This time, however, it wasn’t just the people in the stands getting involved.
It was the people with the press credentials. The media.
According to former president of the Professional Football Writers of America, Alex Marvez of FOX Sports, a Cincinnati reporter and a photographer approached Broncos’ third string messiah Tim Tebow for his John Hancock in the locker room.
Tebow, being a good guy, politely signed. Seems like a dream come true, right?
Wrong. The sports media jumped on these guys worse than Tiger Woods.
Pro Football Talk reported that Broncos’ public relations staff booted the journalists out immediately after getting the autographs, and then the blogosphere went insane.
Journalists wanted the guys to star in “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” as the Headless Horsemen. Yahoo! Sports called them homers and referred to it as terribly unprofessional.
The real question, however, is why. Why are these journalists so maligned now for asking for Tebow’s signature?
First, let’s clarify.
Autographs are close to the dumbest thing on Earth. It’s great to get something signed with no proof of who signed it, and if you are a big fan, you aren’t going to sell it. Instead, you are going watch the ink fade away on your shelf.
Well, until your kids sell it once you pass on.
Congrats. Learn how to use a camera.
Back to the point.
The sports media is enraged about this because they believe it undermines the professionalism of the job. Journalists should not mix business with pleasure, and many feel that this could throw bias into a story about the game.
Although, if you are reading stories about preseason football, you’ve got bigger problems.
These two pariahs, however, seem to be getting the short end of the stick. Yes, it’s clear that using press credentials to obtain Tebow’s autograph is not part of the job, that’s not arguable.
The strange thing here is not about that, though. It’s about the speculation afterwards.
Doug Farrar, the reporter who covered this for Yahoo! Sports, says this is akin to “hitting the press box wearing your home team’s jersey and cheering through the entire game.” While that may be hyperbole, it seems to be ignoring a huge factor.
Every sports writer has a favorite athlete, sport, league, etc. Why else would they have gotten into sports journalism?
It’s the profession for those who aren’t athletic enough to play the sport they cover.
Some of the most prominent writers in the media today make it clear who they admire. But they do not get treated like Frankenstein’s monster in doing so.
A great example is Michael Wilbon. He goes on national television daily, praising his hometown Chicago Bulls and occasionally donning a Northwestern jersey.
And that’s not just because he looks great in purple.
This praise is exactly what an autograph is. This athlete or team has made such a big impact on the person that he or she wants to commemorate it. Shouldn’t they be allowed to, regardless of their profession?
Still, the prognosticating by many a blogger goes much deeper. The consensus is that getting this autograph will sway their opinion on Tebow.
However, not a single person who sees it this way found and/or complained about the reporter’s piece or any piece in a Cincy paper. It should be out today, considering it covered last night’s game, but no word on it being pro-Broncos or pro-Tebow.
Doesn’t seem so fair anymore.
This kind of thing needs to be judged on a case-by-case basis. Farrar called for the two journalists’ names to be released to show everyone’s held to the same standard.
But not to humiliate them. Because releasing their info to a slobbering, attacking media certainly wouldn’t do that.
If someone can find this person’s article and it’s full for Tebow love, then the gripe is valid. If they report with objectivity and class, keeping personal feelings aside, then there’s no harm.
Just two fans with chicken scratch.
So for those people who complain that this is the apocalypse for sports journalists, please get real. All fans and sports page readers care about is entertaining and factual news.
After LeBron James’ "The Decision" aired, they knew credibility was low.
While they shouldn’t abuse their privileges, the two gentlemen should be judged on their body of work instead. If you can scrounge through Cincinnati papers and find a glowing article on Tebow, then cry me to the moon.
If not, shut your trap.
Bloggers at home know if they were face-to-face with someone who’s been as hyped as Tebow, they’d have him sign their chests if paper wasn’t available.
Fans will be fans. Just let it go.