An area mom said it best: “My viewpoints on a game are more unbiased than not because I don’t have a “dog in the fight.” Spot on. But it’s incredibly difficult not to be passionate about the teams you cover. That’s why, when I talk to parents, coaches or athletes, I don’t hesitate to refer to the team as “our” “us” or “we.”
For now I will bite my tongue, or backspace and delete, my thoughts on how “fair” a game was called. And trust me, I have my viewpoints as an outsider looking in. Some things are so blatant, unfair and obvious that it’s hard not to question actions. I don’t think anyone will argue an officiating bias or small-town politics, for example, has impacted high school sports as a whole.
That being said, I don’t let it impact my job or how I report. Because what happened, did. Whoever came out victorious won the game. Most importantly, the losing team can’t blame shortcomings on anything else no matter how blatant things were.
Sure, would I like to cover a winning team? Well, of course. To put it simply, writing a story on a rival game that was in favor of a team I cover is a lot easier to put together than writing about a heartbreaking or blowout loss.
I can assure you, however, I remain fair and neutral in my coverage. Besides, when a team loses, they didn’t win. And while I try my hardest to point out the positives of an upsetting loss, I don’t discredit the winning team. You have to hand it to them. There isn’t any fine print or asterisk symbol next to a dash in the win or loss column. You just need to recover and move on. Life’s tough, and we simply move forward. Excuses or “let me explains” won’t hold up against numbers.
Journalism’s cardinal rules are to report rather than suggest, write facts over opinions, and never, never get involved with the subjects at hand. Guess what? They don’t teach you anything about small-town journalism, and not once have I ever heard about those rules and how they are applied in covering high school ball. It’s because covering sports is a different breed of its own. At the end of the day, I print as it happened. But off the clock and off the record, I won’t hesitate to tell how it was and what I saw.
Here’s the bottom line. Here’s what really gets me. All the passion and all the emotion that surrounds high school sports are what makes covering it the best job, ever. That’s not my opinion — that’s just a fact. I don’t have stats to back that up, but I do have a direct source – me. I’ve seen it all before. This isn’t my first rodeo.