Tuesday, January 27, 2009

There's No Cheering in the Press Box.

IF YOU WERE A SPORTSWRITER and your son was a superstar wide receiver playing in the Super Bowl, could you cover the game objectively?

Larry Fitzgerald of the Cardinals
will have his performance documented and critiqued by hundreds of journalists, including his own father, Larry Sr.

"I understand there's no cheering," Larry Sr. told USA Today. "I'm there as an objective journalist."

But over the past two years, Larry Sr. has written about his son in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, a weekly newspaper serving the African American community, at least 23 times (according to a Salon.com story). In a story after the Cardinals defeated the Eagles, the elder Fitzgerald wrote:

No bird — or player, for that matter — has played better in these playoffs than Fitzgerald. The remarkable 25-year-old receiver has been on fire in the playoffs. In many ways he has literally carried his team on his back, making incredible acrobatic caches and big plays.

Can you be a journalist and a proud father at the same time?


Anonymous said...

Honestly, it all depends on whether or not you can actually follow through on your claim to objectivity. I think the provided excerpt might not be the best example to "prove" whether or not Larry Sr. was being biased towards his son, considering Fitzgerald is thought by many to be an amazing football player. Plenty of sports writers, and football fans alike, would agree with the statement no matter who wrote it.
Now, regarding the issue of being a journalist and a father at the same time...again, it depends on the person. Some might be able to put aside their personal feelings, while others might have a hard time forgetting their sentimental attachments.

-Alexandra Strockyj

Anonymous said...

I think it's very possible to be a journalist and a proud father. Larry Sr. appeared on ESPN's Pardon the Interruption the other day. Actually, the paper he writes for gave him the option of not covering the game and allowing him to attend just as a fan because of Larry Jr. However, he chose to cover the game, regardless of his personal interest. As a respected professional, you have to respect the decision he made that he feels he can remain objective.

Also, that excerpt from Larry Sr.'s article is in no way biased. Fitz has been the primary source of the Cardinals playoff run. He even broke Jerry Rice's total TD's throughout the duration of the playoffs record. He certainly is making his case to be rated the best WR in the entire league coming into next season.

--Tim Murray

Geo said...

What about the perception of bias? Doesn't that interfere with the father's ability to cover the game?

People are going to assume the father will not be objective, aren't they?

Isn't this a conflict of interest? Shouldn't the newspaper have immediately pulled the father off the beat?

- George (the teacher who doesn't have the answers but likes playing devil's advocate)

Eileen McHugh said...

I am not familiar with these people. (I am so not a sports person.) But from an outsiders point of view, yes I think a bias is possible. As a father, he would want to represent his son in the best way possible. I would definitely think that the readers?/viewers would assume that he's biased. Would a lawyer defend his son in court? Would a surgeon operate on his son? It's a role conflict.

Anonymous said...

I don't feel that as a parent Larry Sr. would be able to critique his son without bias. Judges are often asked to step down from cases where he or she has had MINIMAL contact with the issue at hand, let alone the persons involved. How can the field of journalism be different?

I believe you answered the question 'can you be a journalist and a proud father at the same time?' when you mentioned how many times he had written about his son and HOW he wrote about his son. Exhaulting his son as the sole carrier of the Cardinals for catching some throws and making some big plays is the role of a father, not a journalist who is reporting on said events. The unbiased journalist should be looking at the QB making those throws for Larry Jr. to catch as well as the blockers allowing him to score a touchdown... My answer is no.
-Patti Bruno

Anonymous said...

First and foremost, Junior DID put his team on his back. Larry Fitzgerald accounts for a majority of Arizona's offense much like...oh wait...WESTBROOK IS FOR OUR EAGLES. I am just as big of an Eagles fan as the next person but give credit where credit is due. He’ll be my first wide out picked in fantasy football in 2009.
Now as for Senior and his line of work, I do believe it's possible but one has to pick his battles when it comes to story selection. I believe before a proud father sits down to talk about his son's team, he needs to put a number or cap down on how many times he can say something before it becomes annoying and or less objective. If he is assigned a story pertaining to a loved one, it would be my first notion to pass. Since we live in a world where that never happens, I guess it really comes down to the integrity of the journalist. I still believe it’s possible though.

Chris Audesirk

Anonymous said...

But doesn't he have a responsibility to report the relevant new stories in his field? He covers sports, and the Super Bowl is obviously a huge story. Larry Fitzgerald set the record for most receiving yards in a postseason, so he's obviously a big part of that huge story.

It doesn't matter whether or not it's his son, he needs to report on it.

-Kyle Gauss

Jasmyne Reaves J111 said...

I think that it is possible if one is true to journalism and looks at these games as a normal jornalist would who did not have any relation to the player. If the journalist is truly objective it is possible. However,this raises the question that as a proud father he is a fan, so can an extreamist fan be a journalist and write without biasness towrds their fav team? It all depends on the strength of the journalist. Is his objective to promote the story, recite the positive and neg events of the game, or to highlite who they feel is the best player?

Dominic said...

Sure, one can be a journalist and a proud father at the same time, but Larry Sr. isn't.

If you write sports for a Minnesota newspaper your articles should focus on the teams and players in the NFC North, but more importantly, the Vikings. The only times Larry Sr. should be spotlighting his son is if the Vikings play the Cardinals that coming week, if Jr. is in a big game concerning the outcome of the conference, if Jr. is in the Super Bowl, but most importantly if the article IS WORTH READING. Something tells me readers aren't exactly running to the newsstands after reading 23 articles over the span of 6 years concerning a player in a different conference.

Larry Sr. should be proud of his son but shouldn't act like he doesn't have an obvious bias. He should probably focus his writings on the state of the Vikings and what surrounds them. Maybe if more people read and followed the Vikings the team wouldn't have to beg "fans" to buy dirt cheap playoff tickets. Hey man I was there. I saw a guy in a Julius Peppers jersey, a kid decked out in Redskins gear, and a Diamondbacks fan(?). I also sat next to a couple of kids who didn't wear anything football related and were falling asleep due to intoxication, or at least I'd like to think that was the reason.

Stephanie Klock said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Stephanie Klock said...

Yes, you can. Facts don't lie. The score is the score whether or not your son or daughter is playing the game!

Josh Rultenberg said...

Larry Sr. cannot possibly still be an objective journalist when the topic of covering his son and his son's team in the biggest game of his cub's young career is thrown onto his desk. We all know he is proud of his son who was at one time an NFL sideline ballboy now all-pro wide receiver. Larry Sr. is a well respected journalist around the sports world when it comes to his stories and comments but if I had to read one article about Larry Fitzgerald that was non-biased, I would not read Larry Sr.'s article.

Daniela Stetser said...

I think that as a professional journalist that Larry Sr.it is his job to report the facts objectivly. However, regarding a father and son relationship there will always be some form of bias.Larry Sr. is a a man who's son has a ccomplished alot in his life (bad days arise in everyone life)but, he will always have his side.

Amanda DiStefano said...

This definately tests Larry Sr. objectivity. I would go for the story if I were him, and if I felt like it was too subjective, not submit it.

However, avid sports fans may think a little differently.

I can see both sides on this one.

Amanda Distefano
(current)Journalism and Society student

Anonymous said...

If my dad was watching my games, I certainly wouldn't want him to be objective- he'd have to be rooting for me. And the excerpt of Larry Sr.'s writing certainly teeters between admiration and glorification of his son. I don't think it is impossible to act objective in this case, but it is probably pretty hard to actually be objective.

- Jess Dunford

Anonymous said...

Obviously if your proud of someone especially your son you will let the world know. If you had the chance to write about your favorite player and he/she played an incredible game but unfortunely lost. You would understand.
Journalism is objective, but its pretty hard with an idol or a family member is involved. And if you watched the superbowl, the man did not lie.

-Cynthia Gallegos

Anonymous said...

An honest analysis of the Arizona Cardinals playoff run would certainly indicate that Larry Fitzgerald was the key to their success. Fitzgerald set a record for the most yards in a single postseason. He was certainly incredible, but that is not really the point. The fact is that many people will believe that Larry Sr.'s article is a reflection of his bias. Someone reading the article could easily be mislead and doubt the credibility of the article regardless of whether it's true or not. This is not to say that Larry Sr. is biased at all. That would be a judgement call. He should have been pulled off the beat for the sake of his publication's credibility.

Anonymous said...

Michael Klugman