Note: This column originally appeared in the Boston Metro Newspaper on Friday, June 4th, 2004. (Metro columns need to be around 500 words, thus the brevity of this piece.)
What have Boston fans done to deserve this? Their sports pages are filled with negativity, hindsight, curses, cheapshots and agendas. A certain broadsheet paper in town sets the pace. Is this part of a corporate strategy? Consider this: for each of the major sports teams in town, the paper has a writer who clearly seems to wish that the team fails miserably. You’ve got the columnist with a financial stake in the failure of the Red Sox – each year that the Sox fall short means another year of the “curse” – which means more publicity for the notion and more money in his pockets. Isn’t there something wrong with that? When the Sox win it all, that side revenue dries up and goes away. It’s in his interest to root against the team, and if possible to even stir up some fracas, distraction or controversy which generates the negative atmosphere that could cause the focus of the team and fans to go awry. All in the interest of his own checkbook.
How about the football writer who goes out of his way to make sarcastic comments about the championship organization of the New England Patriots? What’s his angle? Well the coach had the audacity to keep playing Tom Brady (whom the writer predicted would make people realize how good Drew Bledsoe really was.) while the team was winning and kept right on winning through SuperBowl 36. The team then traded Bledsoe, thus depriving the writer of his best source of back channel information on the Patriots organization and the Kraft family. The writer has never forgiven the coach for that act and takes every chance possible to hit below the belt in his coverage of the team. He admitted on a New York radio station that he doesn’t like Bill Belichick, and in private emails with readers, he will mock them as being “blinded” by the two Lombardi trophies, implying that fans can’t see how evil Belichick and the Patriots really are.
Celtics? Try reading an article by the paper’s top NBA writer without a reference to “Danny panic” or without somehow weaving in a reference to the 2001 draft, in which he’ll remind you that the Celtics could have had any one of four players, (Jefferson, Parker, Randolph or Tinsley) depending on who is playing well at the time, instead of the players they actually drafted. The latest shtick is to chide the team for making the playoffs this past season instead of tanking the season for a higher lottery pick. We can only imagine what angle he’d be taking if the team did attempt to lose games.
The Bruins as well have their resident “hater” on the staff of the paper. This writer still makes deprecating references to goaltenders from a decade ago. (Does the “Amazing Technicolor 5-hole” ring any bells?) He also used the morning of game seven of a playoff series to publicly flog the captain of the team, whom everyone knew was playing hurt. The timing of the article was curious as it seemed to serve no purpose except to create a negative aura around the team that day.
We’re not looking for cheerleaders in the press. However, coverage that isn’t delivered with such transparent agendas and hatred would be welcome.