A major theme of our discussions has been about how the sports department is seen as the toy department. This article takes a different approach on that idea than I had previously when talking about it in class.
Whenever we talked about it in class I always took it as being the toy department because “real” journalists don’t see sports being an important topic. This article contends that it is the sports department because sports writers don’t write tough stories and aren’t critical. Basically saying they don’t cover the important issues in sports but just the easy stuff, the superficial aspect. I now see this idea from both angles and also think one could cause the other. It could be that newsrooms see the sports department as the toy department because they don’t report on the difficult issues.
I think the steroid example used is a good one. I find it hard to believe journalists across the country didn’t know there was steroid use but it was never reported. When the information finally came out all we saw was steroids on TV and in the papers and tons of criticism of the players who took the steroids. However, I don’t recall seeing much criticism of the owners, commissioner, or the players union who also ignored the issue and allowed this to happen to make greater profits. To me this is where the article’s point comes into play; journalists don’t want to risk access or sources so it is easier for them to criticize Barry Bonds or Alex Rodriguez than Bud Selig or all thirty owners. It is safer for them to criticize the players. The players can’t keep the writers out of the clubhouse but the owners sure can. However, if you look to the Penn State case, the news networks had no problem going after Joe Paterno and the university itself. To me that shows more guts to take on an institution like that.
I see the reasoning for calling the sports department the toy department but think that it is getting better for the sports department. I think in order to compete with blogs who might have lesser ethics when it comes to what they post, traditional media has to do something to compete and taking a hardnosed approach is that method.