August 22, 2005

Sports Pages - Give me the Scores and Skip the PC

Sports pages are supposed to give you scores and standings, describe the highlights of the last game, and give you some insight into the one coming up. A special story about a hometown player or occasional controversy is good, too. What's not good is taking up perfectly good space and leaving out good information to cater to the PC crowd and people with little interest in athletics. So, here's a message to America's newspaper editors: "Leave the sports pages alone!"

Today, the Project for Excellence in Journalism issued a study on America's sports pages and found the following:

The sports sections of America’s newspapers are a passive and reactive space, one dominated by game previews and recaps with little room for enterprise reportage. ...this traditional formula still raises some journalistic issues, particularly about what is absent. The range of subject matter is narrow and the coverage of those subjects is similarly limited in voice, style and viewpoint.

Fine...that's what we want. Keep it that way and don't make it worse. Don't get me wrong. There is a place for issues such as women's sports, minority issues, Kobe Bryant, and Title IX--but, don't overdo it. It frustrates me when I'm looking for some ball scores that the paper left out because it wanted room for some social issue or a women's sport that three people won't read about. Oh, I like some women's sports. For instance, I like to watch her and her and to read this. I'm fair minded.

The study goes on to make some conclusions that I believe are false, but it's written by journalists and not sports fans, so that's expected. While the researchers cannot pinpoint reasons for the sports page formula, they hypothesize that readers just want it that way. Yep.

Fortunately, almost in resignation, the study concludes:

America’s sports pages are a lot like a comfortable bar or restaurant you go to before or after the game. You know what you are going to get and it’s not going to be spoiled by the latest fad, but you’re also not going to see a lot of change on the menu.

And, to that, I say "thank goodness and amen."

So, editors, quit conducting studies and listen to your customers. You can mess up the front page, editorial pages, and even the comics--but leave the sports pages to what sports fans want. Let the sports section be written by people who care about sports and know something about sports. Got it? If you can learn to stick to the facts and give your readers what they want in the sports section, then next try to do it with the rest of your paper.

Now, let's get ready for baseball's stretch and post season and the start of football season.

Posted by GM Roper at August 22, 2005 07:00 PM | TrackBack

It would never have occurred to me that spectator sports and pornography had much in common, Woody, but you've convinced me. Very persuasive writing.

Posted by Jape at August 22, 2005 07:28 PM

Only Jape would consider two tennis stars and the SI Swimsuit issue to be pornography. Yes Jape, your writing has convinced me that you are a troll who enjoys snide comments more than focus on a given post. Clean up your act vis-a-vis your comments, or get banned. Plain and simple-last warning.

Posted by GM Roper at August 22, 2005 08:57 PM

Ah, Jape, you appear again. And again you leave something that really doesn't make any sense at all.

I thought you were a true "progressive" -- so you would support actual pornography, not athletes.

Posted by Ogre at August 22, 2005 09:28 PM

Jape, you see what you want to see. It's all in the eyes of the beholder.

I suspect that you might find this sport more in tune with your lusts.

Posted by Woody at August 22, 2005 09:33 PM

Jape, did you really intend to reveal so much about your sick mind, or are you just naturally a fool?

Posted by Mustang at August 22, 2005 09:36 PM

Just like the Journalistic "Elite" to try to make every aspect of a paper about their agenda.

And Jape? I think you need to get a hobby...PC overload is starting to cloud your thought functions.

Posted by delftsman3 at August 22, 2005 09:50 PM

The point was not that swimsuits and titillating references to female tennis starts constitutes pornography, but that any discourse meant to feed expectations and never challenge them might as well be pornography.

Now by all means ban me, if it will give you such satisfaction.

Posted by Jape at August 22, 2005 10:04 PM

Can someone interpret that for me?

I feel as if I'm listening to one of those comedians who pretends to be an authority on something but talks in gibberish leaving the audience wondering or laughing.

Posted by Woody at August 22, 2005 10:13 PM

Could everyone return to your corners please?

What I think Jape in her recondite fashion was trying to say is that she was offended by the women sports links because she perceives them as intended to evoke lust rather than being honest examples of Woody's favorite women's sports.

I'd penalize Jape 10 points for overreacting to Woody's sophomoric humor. However, I would also penalize Woody 2 points because his sentence did come across as a bit of a put down of women sports/athletes. If you all don't mind, now, I'll take off my referee costume.

As for the gist of your post, Woody, I agree with your overall sentiment that the sports section, with rare exceptions, should remain an area of refuge for sports fans, "written by people who care about sports and know something about sports". However, in the news and editorial sections, there are clearly times when newspapers need to show courage and print things that may disturb the reader and challenge their preconceptions -- not to carry out a PC experiment, but because it's right.

By the way, it looks right now that the A's are reverting to their Mr. Hyde persona...not good news for their fans.

Posted by civil truth at August 23, 2005 01:06 AM

Civil, you've stated it well. That's what I meant to say. How would you like a job with G.M.? I'm sure he'll pay you as well as he pays me.

Regarding women's sports, I think that they try to offer more coverage than real interest justifies. When I was at an SEC football game, the P.A. announcer was marketing an upcoming game for the women's soccer team and said that admission is free and that they would give away candy. Still, few people went. It sounded to me as if feminists demanded more women's sports and got their demands, but really were more interested in the politics of the situation than the athletic competition. The papers tend to do some of that and worry about social issues that represent an agenda rather than worrying about good reporting for the games.

I will watch women's tennis, but admit to watching some matches simply because Anna Kournikova was playing. I really don't get the SI swimsuit edition. The last time that I subscribed to SI and that came, my wife chunked it in the trash.

These journalists felt that they had to analyze the sports pages, which are doing fine, and rate them against the other sections of the paper using the same standards. If they try to apply standards of the editorial or society pages to the sports section, then forget it. Fortunately, I think they came away with the opinion that the sports pages don't meet their journalistic standards but that nothing is going to change since people like them the way they are.

Is Jape a woman? If so, life will be easier on her if she learns to take a joke. Nevertheless, I admit that the humor didn't accurately reflect my true views, so I retract that. May I get a point back?

Posted by Woody at August 23, 2005 08:52 AM

"The point was not that swimsuits and titillating references to female tennis starts constitutes pornography, but that any discourse meant to feed expectations and never challenge them might as well be pornography."

Jape, you just don't get it do you? Your point as stated was that Woody's column was tatamount to porn. That is as wrongheaded a conclusion as anyone can make. Your second post was not a scathing "jape" Jape, it was a reasonable response to a number of other responses that called you on your first post. One can point out problems and not necessarily provide a solution, but Woody did point out that PC was taking too large a place in the sports page and that he didn't like it. His solution was that the editors of the sports page should leave it to sports and take the PC angle to perhaps news or editorial pages. So, you are mistaken on that. At least that is the way I see it.

Posted by GM Roper at August 23, 2005 02:25 PM

Oh, and Jape, banning you would give me no satisfaction whatsoever. I have yet to ban a commenter and I'm not looking to ban you. You will be the sole determinant of that.

I have rules for commenting on this blog, you can say whatever is on your mind, but you cannot just comment to snipe at either an author of a post, or at another commenter. Please take that to heart. You are obviously bright and have an excellent grasp of both language, and of the absurd. Use it wisely.

Posted by gmroper at August 23, 2005 08:10 PM

GM, will you please give Woody back 1 point. And also, could he please have a pay raise?

(How's that, Woody? Don't worry. He'll never suspect that we're conspiring against him. Heh heh heh)

Posted by Mustang at August 23, 2005 11:00 PM

Mustang, points are in my bailiwick. However, in response to your earnest plea, I'll give Woody back one point.

What percentage pay raise do you think we should petition for on Woody's behalf -- 20%, 50%, 100%? Actually I think 400% sounds right (not that it matters one whit, heh heh heh).

Meanwhile, the A's free fall continues. Perhaps they watched one too many Roadrunner cartoons...

Posted by civil truth at August 24, 2005 12:27 AM

Mustang, Civil Truth, the truth of the matter is that I read what Mustang wrote and disagreed entirely (as Mustang knows I usually do) and therefore disallowed any point removal from the beginning. Now, since you both agree that he has those points (one from each of you) I am adding those points to his already considerable sum making him one of the most highly pointed co-authors in the blogosphere.

As to a raise, Woody is a CPA and manages so well, he actually pays me for the privilege of writing here. So, that issue is a wash. Now, what I will do is purchase for woody one square inch of the north pole of PLUTO. If he manages his ranch wisely, he will be worth a lot of money some day.

Actually, I hereby declare that Woody no longer has to pay for the privilege of writing here and all funds paid previously are paid back in the same currency. How's that guys? Am I fair or what?

Posted by GM Roper at August 24, 2005 08:11 AM

Do they have global warming on Pluto? I'll report back as soon as I get to visit the ranch. Thanks for the points and raise!

Posted by Woody at August 24, 2005 10:09 AM

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