It should be common sense, but just in case it’s not, it is written out on every press credential issued to a sports journalist…No autographs.
Apparently that wasn’t enough for a couple of media members at a Denver Bronco game in August. In a story from a Denver Post blog two reporters were kicked out of a Bronco game for asking Quarterback and first round pick, Tim Tebow, for an autograph in the post game locker room (a big taboo is sports journalism).
Granted, much of the etiquette of sports journalism is unwritten and picked up by on the job experience. The textbook only has small paragraph tucked away at the bottom corner devoted to etiquette. Yet, it is arguably one of the most important things to know as a sports journalist.
Sitting in the Lambeau Field press box watching my beloved Packers nearly throw the game away in the second half was infuriating. The fan inside me wanted to scream, but I knew I was there as a reporter not a fan.
Outside of the press box the fans roared to life cheering on the Packers. Inside the box the roar was muted by the windows, it was near silent except for the occasional groan as the Packers let up another third and long or sigh of relief as John Kuhn picked up the game’s final first-down.
The locker room has a set of etiquette as well. The locker room is a player’s home away from hom,e. They have a routine and they call the shots when the media enters. Donald Driver, Charles Woodson, and Nick Barnett don’t talk to the media until they have showered and dressed. Others such as Daryn Colledge will talk to the media while they wear nothing but a towel. Some players (often the stars) speak at a podium in the press auditorium so asking those players questions in the locker room is severely frowned upon by players, media members, and PR staff alike. Knowing these things comes from experience and asking veteran reporters what players routines are.
It seems like a no brainer that one’s fandom should be left at the press gate of the stadium. Although incidents are few and far between they happen none the less. Maybe journalism schools need to have a class on sports journalism, just to make sure it’s drilled into new journalist’s heads. Since this isn’t the case the one thing students can do is ask, ask, and ask questions. Double and triple check that you know what is expected of you as a member of the media at a sporting event.