Sports Journalism AKA Anonymous Quote Career

Albert Pujols’ unfortunate run-in with Wilson Betemit on the first-base line over the weekend, resulting in Pujols being out until sometime in August, has been the hot topic over the last day or so not only because of the immediate fortunes of his St. Louis Cardinals…but of the fortune he has been looking forward to start receiving come next season.

Some sports journalists are noting today based on this injury how very fortunate the Cardinals are now that Albert did not accept their offer prior to spring training…reportedly in the $21 million a year range over 9 or 10 years.  And…how ultra-unfortunate Albert is now for not accepting their bid to retain his services.

In fact, it is being “reported” a number of anonymous baseball executives are now “putting a price tag” on how much this injury could potentially cost Pujols if he does not come back before year’s end and definitively demonstrate his skills have not eroded.

First off, the obvious.  The St. Louis Cardinals are trying to win baseball games and as great a player as Albert is they don’t do themselves any good putting someone out on the field who can’t play.  Second, the Cardinals will likely walk a fine line here in rushing him back because they may very well be his future employer and will not want to jeopardize future seasons…and you can bet Pujols will be on a similar fine line.  Third, let us see what the man can do…so much speculation about the timing of his return and how his timing…and strength…will be.  This is a world-class athlete.  I would not bet against him.  It is totally acceptable to speculate about the nature of the injury and others who have suffered it, but we are talking Albert Pujols here.

What gets me is the faceless, nameless quotes that seem to always come pouring out onto the Internet, Radio, TV, Twitter etc. when something like this occurs in sports.

Why is it I see more and more whole columns, articles, essays etc. filled to the rafters with “one long-time league exec”…”one team scout”…”one former manager”…you’ve all seen what I mean.  Not just in this Pujols instance – with all sports – and it has been going on a long time now.

News journalism covering local, state and federal governments is a profession where we always have considered it a necessity to use anonymous sources to “get to the truth.”  Many times reporters have even refused to give up their sources on stories they’ve shown the light of day to, shedding light on activities and actions we otherwise would likely never have known about.  These stories have helped make our world a much better, safer, more secure place.

However, with the advent of the Internet and now Social Media we appear to have situations now where “news” organizations appear to have agendas…and you surely wonder these days if some of their anonymous sources…and their alleged comments…are even real.  Sad.

Somehow, sports writers using anonymous sources just doesn’t seem to compare with whistle-blowers in government, on Wall Street, etc.  We have enough trouble figuring out if the truly important issues of the day are what we perceive them to be from the media reporting them.

Sports is big business…and there are a multitude of potential off-the-field organizational and financial issues, abuse, etc. that would certainly require using nameless sources to get stories out.

But please…seeing quotes without names when it comes to how well a player, coach, manager or front-office staffer is liked, what their work ethic is, what they like to do off-the-clock…or how well they might respond to an injury and how much money it may have cost them?  Tell me who feels compelled to comment on all these types of “issues” or don’t tell me at all.  Sports employees should own up to talking about others employed in their professions…and sports writers should own up to only bringing out anonymous comments when there is a real, REAL reason to do so.

ESPN even has a feature where anonymous players have a forum to discuss anything.  That has “had its moments.”  Faceless allegations and opinions are meaningless.  How do you know they’re even real…because someone dedicated some space somewhere to publish or air them?

Sports journalists…demand people own their comments when reporting on these low-level “issues” and stop making careers out of pumping out comments and opinions without names attached.

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About sportsattitudes

I'm Bruce. Born, raised and still outside Philadelphia PA. Managed (so far) to visit a dozen US states (most just one time each) and Canada (twice). 50-plus years - married 30-plus years. Love massive quantities of sports, television and movies (viewed in a movie theater).
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5 Responses to Sports Journalism AKA Anonymous Quote Career

  1. JW says:

    Sports is big business…which is exactly the problem. More importantly, it is the fact that outlets like ESPN sound more like CNBC on far too many occasions. Look at the Pujols situation…here we are listening to speculation over the effects of an injury on a contract and completely underplaying the significance of the injury on his performance. Wrist and forearm injuries can be devastating to a hitter.

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    • JW, I saw one column by Buster Olney where I literally lost count of all the anonymous people quoted in the piece (on Pujols), which is what ultimately turned a possible topic on paper into an actual post on-line. I wasn’t sure if I was in the deep minority on this but I have seen some publications that use anonymous comments as standard operating procedure each week. Pro Football Weekly comes to mind. All it does – I think – is raise the anger bar among all participants. If you won’t tell any of us who said it, how do we know anyone actually said it? It is a very simple question and I just wanted to get it out there. I hope more people will take the time to comment one way or the other. Your point about not focusing on the injury instead of the money…since it happened I have heard/seen 90% of content about the contract only.

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  2. toosoxy says:

    It depends on the context… but I’m not allowed to print anything EVER that I can’t attribute to a specific person. And, in television, anonymous sources were shaded for their own protection- but we still had a record of their identity to protect our credibility within the organization.
    It’s a management policy- and I think it’s management that should be blamed for sensationalism, not the journalists… journalists just do what they’re told- and adhere to policies dictated by corporate… these anonymous commentors? probably legit. but, under old school non-slash journalism, you’re right, they’d be disregarded. unfortunately, corporate management has easy access to ratings…
    which are dictated by the public. see, it’s this corporate-audience cycle. i blame the audience for forcing sensationalism and management for skewing ethics. and john lackey for sucking at pitching.

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  3. TooSoxy…I just KNEW a John Lackey reference was coming. Thanks for your comment…including the part about Mr. Lackey.

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  4. toosoxy says:

    Why does John Lackey hate me, SA? I’m such a likeable girl, really…

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