Thursday, May 07, 2009

Anonymous Sources in Sports Reporting

I think I've stated before how much the very concept of anonymous reporting in sports irks me. 
I know I have complained about reporters who think they are plugged into what is happening on the Owner Level.

Which is why I look at this report from Yahoo Sports about Brett Favre saying "Thanks, but no thanks" to the Vikings with a good deal of disgust.  I don't give two shits about the Vikings, and don't really understand why anyone does.  They've been a comically woeful franchise--either being awful, or hilariously underperforming in the Big Game since their inception.  I could not care less whether Favre becomes  a Viking or not, though I find the whole thing very interesting to watch.

So why do I care about a report from Yahoo Sports that says Favre isn't going to become a Viking?

Here's Why:

This isn't an FBI agent complaining about civilians being tortured, or disclosing the number of Arabic speakers getting dismissed from the US Armed Forces because they were gay.  This isn't Watergate.  Why the fuck is Yahoo unable to do better in their sourcing than "a source close to the team"?

Dear Rick Schwartz, Yahoo reporter:  "a source close to the team" isn't going to lose their job if you report their name.  How about you don't give this kind of protection to an employee who doesn't need it?  It is either true, and therefore no big deal.  Or, it is bullshit and you are being used as a smokescreen.  Congrats!  You are either a drama queen or a sucker.

And really--no more specific than "a source close to the team?"  That appellation could be used to describe Viking's Owner Zygi Wilf or Suzy Longstocking, Bernard Berrian's babysitter.  It is meaningless.  You couldn't even give us a general title, like "an upper level executive"?   

All of this--the unnamed sources, the kvetching from the Star Tribune guys for a team that went 10-6 in a soft NFC Central last year?  A team that is banking on an overrated  secondary, and a receiving corps that begins and ends with Bernard Berrian?  A 40 year old QB is going to transform that shitty receiving corps?  Maybe.  He ain't going to do shit for that questionable secondary, though.

My point is simple enough--this ain't the launch codes The Anonymous Source is giving away, and it should not be treated as such.  The Anonymous Source shouldn't be anonymous.  It isn't important enough to be quoted off the record.   Yahoo, you make journalism a bit of a joke when you can't name your source for a story that is either going to be confirmed or blown out of the water by Monday.  Either way, you didn't make your profession better by passing on a rumor from your unnamed source close to the team.  


The Black Freighter said...

"I don't give two shits about the Vikings, and don't really understand why anyone does."

Ouch... those are some harsh words for my franchise of choice. You make it sound like we're a drooling wretch of a team. Sure the Vikings have had their fair share of soul-crushing moments, but what team hasn't? Despite not winning the big game, the've been incredibly consistent with a 395-322-9 all-time record. 75% of their seasons have finished with at least a .500 record.

And the Vikings secondary? Give me a break... they consistently see one of the highest rates of pass attempts each game because of their run defense, yet still finished middle of the pack in yardage allowed. They only allowed 15 TD passes last year (5th fewest), too.

I've been a Viking fan all my life... I was born here and love Minnesota sports. The way you tell it, we should all jump ship and root for a new team. What kind of fan would that be, though?

You know what I think... I think you are full of horsepucky Big Blue!

Jess said...

I'm that kind of fan. I was a life-long Vikings fan until just a couple of years ago. Best break-up ever.

But I'm not some football slut who went out and threw my loyalty at the next team that came along. I still don't have a favorite football team and that does kind of suck.

Big Blue Monkey 2: The Quickening said...

There is room, paleface, on the Drunken Savages' weaving and swerving bandwagon.

TBF--75% of the Vikings' seasons are .500 or better? So what? How many of those seasons were 9-7, with no trip to the playoffs, or a first round exit?

My post was mainly about the ridiculousness of blind sourcing in sports reporting, but I'll say it again--being a Vikings fan is like being a fan of the Washington Generals. They are guaranteed to lose the big games in the worst way possible.

My buddy Jeff was watching the Vikings. His father walked in and said, "They will only break your heart, son." And he turned around and left the room.

That was 25 years ago. Jeff's Dad hasn't been wrong yet, has he?

Andrew Wice said...

This seems like it's cutting deep. Ours is not to reason why or how or wherefore someone chooses their favorite team. It's natural.

The job here, ladies and germs, is to demonstrate with a maximum of truth, damn truth and statistics, why YOUR favorite team sucks. And is therefore disliked by me. For example, the Raiders suck. Empirically.

So, Black Freighter, I watched four years of Vikings football leading into the halcyon Randall Cunningham era. Ha! The Vikings Suck!

Good luck, though.

Jess, if you want an underdog overachiever with a strong jaw, poise and sincerity, look no further than embattled QB Jason Campbell. This offseason has made him the posterboy of sustainable growth versus those big bright red tomatoes without any flavor.

Jess said...

Paleface, Big Blue Monkey? Really? There's some sort of pot-kettle thing going on here, but it's eluding me at the moment.

Andrew's sustainable growth argument is compelling, but maybe that's because I just can't wait for my weekly CSA boxes to start arriving.