Liberty-Mercury fight: some writers need to take a chill pill

Fourteen hours after the Mercury-Liberty skirmish we have the predictable elements: pictures of the incident, and fans trying to make rational sense of/explain a fight, when fights are never based on reason in the first place – just emotion.

But we also have some writings up online that I find very disturbing, because they are opinions trying to pass themselves off as journalism.

First we have a piece by Seth Pollack entitled, “Cappie Pondexter’s cheap foul and cowardly post-game reaction.” The author has decided that Pondexter’s foul “was not incidental, and her actions immediately following the foul only reinforce that.” He criticizes Pondexter for not helping Taylor up and not speaking to the media afterwards, and ends by calling her cheap and cowardly.

A little later, the same writer posts again and proclaims, without a doubt, that Pondexter’s foul was intentional. The writer says it’s the worst foul he’s seen in a long time, and Pondexter should be ashamed of herself.

I’ve never been a fan of convicting someone without hearing their side of the story, and neither were the United States founders. It’s why they invented that branch of government called the court system that calls for a trial by jury. Journalists are NEVER supposed to convict someone anyway. Journalists are supposed to explain what happened and present both sides of the story – not let their emotions get the best of them and jump into the fray.

The only “obvious” foul is when someone throws a punch at someone, or tries to. Pondexter’s foul of Taylor looks like a typical hard foul to me. Maybe Pollack needs to watch more high school girls basketball, because I’ve seen much, much harder fouls. Women and girls play hard, and it’s not unusual for a player to get caught up in the game and forget to put her intensity in check.

The truth is, we don’t know why it all went down last night. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my 40-plus years, it’s that you NEVER know what someone is thinking unless you hear it come out of their mouth. Psychoanalysis and second-guessing are a waste of time. The only way to know for sure what’s on somebody’s mind is for her to tell you. Until she does, you don’t have the right to say you know what she’s thinking.

Assuming Pondexter’s guilt is behind her not wanting to talk to the media last night is faulty. We don’t know Pondexter; maybe she’s an introvert. Maybe she was upset and didn’t feel like talking. Maybe she didn’t know what to say. Journalists are not supposed to draw conclusions and make unfounded assumptions like the SB Nation writer did.

Should Pondexter be suspended for trying to throw a punch last night? Yes. But let the league deal with that, and save the self-righteousness for……actually, don’t get self-righteous. It’s really annoying. Who amongst us hasn’t made mistakes?

One thing I was surprised at is Ben York’s column on this incident. Overall it’s a balanced piece, focused mainly on how the evening changed from warm to dark. But this line isn’t necessary:

“Penny Taylor, one of the kindest human beings on the planet and Mercury fan-favorite….”

If Penny was an asshole instead of “a kind human being,” would it be any less of a foul? Journalists should keep their opinions about various players out of their work.

Besides the trend toward biased journalism the last several years, another change that concerns me is the need of some writers to tell everything. Heard about the reporters who knew John F. Kennedy was having affairs but never said anything? They realized there was no purpose in revealing that information other than to hurt the Kennedy family. Too bad more people don’t know that today. If Corey Gaines really made that comment about Pondexter, what purpose is served by reporting it? To make Pondexter feel like crap? I see and hear a lot of things in the basketball world in here Los Angeles – including Sparks stuff – that I would never report in this space. I recommend others get similarly “old-fashioned.”

7 COMMENTS

  1. i have no problem with fans making posts over the event. that's what message boards are all about…fan involvement. its human nature that some will see it one way and others see it differently.

    as for journalists, i don't think seth pollack falls into that category. just because he's got a site and blogs does not put him into the category of a journalist. although i don't follow pollack's site, i think you give him too much credit.

    just look at his response to thesixthwoman, that sort of says it all for his wanting to do an unbiased account of anything.

    scullyfu

  2. it used to be that people went to school to learn journalism. they learned about the 5 w's, how to quote sources, how to keep themselves out of the story, ethics. the new journalists were often stuck with writing obits and school board stories. get your feet wet, learn the ropes. there was someone watching over them.

    in the past, personal opinions were kept on the op-ed pages. but
    over the years we've seen a blurring of the two.

    bloggers are a product of the internet age; we can't assume they have any journalist training, certainly not of the old-school variety, so why expect them to uphold, much less even know, about such things as distance and ethics?

    i agree, i'd like everyone to be fair, but it just isn't going to happen. that is why the reader has to be aware of the agenda of the source and read what they write through that filter.

    scullyfu

  3. This is going to put a fire in my butt to write about something I've been sitting on for a month, and that's reporters who are ignorant of the women's game. But now I have an interesting addition to that with the blogger issue, i.e. does being knowledgeable come with a price of bias?

    I'm going to percolate on that while I go work out. I can't sit at a computer all day.

    Happy Fourth of July.

  4. I think certain people are going to try to put Cap under the bus like they tried the Baylor player, but the WNBA will deal any penalties if need be. I wonder if the writer justified Dana's DUI arrest, like Cap's foul? Sensationalism sells and TMZ….I mean SBN needs readership, but I'm glad we have real blogs like this one to balance the BS

  5. We talked about biases on IM, but I do think that SBN Arizona is playing up that end of the spectrum for readership. If there were an SBN New York that cared about the Liberty, I think you'd see something just as biased the other way, and I'd like to think you'd find it just as inappropriate.

    The whole thing's crazy. All has to do with the way people want to know more and more and more about a situation.

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