From the FanPosts...
I am probably about to overgeneralize, but here goes. I'm a Southern California transplant to Utah (the bain of all Jazz fans), but I love everything about Utah except for one thing (Utah sportswriting). It's the laziest sports writing I've come across after living in about 5 major sports markets, including Los Angeles, Phoenix, Kansas City, Salt Lake City, and Rexburg. Okay 4 major sports markets. The Utah market seems to be caught in a critique cycle where the sports writer apparently never leaves the cozy confines of his cubicle to venture out into the world to conduct interviews, watch practices, and meet the people they write about. More importantly, they don't seem to have any desire to create any unique angles by watching game film to find tendencies or give us some analysis. Today's article by Brad Rock in the Deseret News (here) was a rehash of Gordon Monson's recent articles (here and here) in the Salt Lake Tribune. I know Monson's only angle (read all of his articles the past few years and you will be hard-pressed to find a unique, enlightening article) is to stir up emotion and pull readers to his radio show where the real advertising money lives. Brad Rock, Dick Harmon, Jeff Call, all these guys, though, don't have that excuse.
Brad Rock called Bronco on his "the level of criticism reflects the level of education of the critic" comment in his article today, but you know what? Bronco was dead on. I can't even imagine having to face a roomful of Utah sportswriters every week knowing they're going to ignore your sustained years of excellence and ask the same tired questions over and over again only to have them spend hours digging through their transcripts looking for contradictory quotes to drag your name through their muddy paper. If Bronco does someday call it quits early and slip into a cool retirement of grandkids, surfing, and missions, it will likely be due to the ignorance of the media and how tiring it becomes dealing with their seemingly low levels of education. Or at the very least, their lack of desire to produce a meaningful angle.
I emailed Dick Harmon a few years ago and suggested this idea to him - that better angles need to be taken. He said he doesn't have time. He said was hired to live a routine of reporting mundane facts for people who didn't watch the game and then offering a few critical pieces about headline topics. This was his reasoning! There are so many amazing things going on within a university sports program, and there are so many unique things taking place on a "playing field" or "court" that you could spend months analyzing and discussing the nuances of the games being played and the amazing student athletes who play them. Instead, we are fed a steady diet of dead writing predicated on lazy arm-chair critiques that require little research and very little creative thinking.
As a BYU sports fan, I'd love to read some great reporting and analysis on the following topics:
1. Bring in some experts on quarterbacking and let them analyze film of Riley and Heaps and give us some insight on what they're seeing that's good and bad. And this could carry into every position in every sport - I love listening to Ron Jaworski break down NFL quarterbacks - he can see things most people cannot.
2. Analyze game films and report numbers of run plays/pass plays, types of plays run in various situational categories (Red Zone, 3rd Down, Before the 50, After Crossing Midfield, etc) and analyze these tendencies and decisions.
3. Report on the academic side of sports (they are student athletes after all) and the types of support services and programs the university offers and unique aspects of programs supporting other universities.
4. Histories of BYU sports venues over the last 100 years - interview players who were on the field or court at old venues - this topic could go in a thousand directions and probably generate some pretty cool unreported sports stories.
5. Let's hear more often from former BYU sports figures - like Vanquish is doing with Staffieri and the Des News is doing with Vai - and let them analyze what is going on from their unique perspective. Plus, I'd love to hear where guys have moved on to more often. How's life treating them? Tons of positive stuff to read there.
6. Some insider pieces on BYU athletes who did and who did not make it in the pros. Are there keys to making it, or does it just seem to be luck. I'd love to hear from Hall, Pitta, Collie, Fui, and all the guys working with the NFL to feel what it is like. Just as interesting would be the "other sports," too.
7. Tell the stories of athletes and teams who have won National Titles at BYU.
8. Do some pieces on the ins-and-outs of being an Athletic Director. Holmoe's job has to be rough. Tell us how the university president is tied into sports. I just went to a VIP luncheon with about 40 people at Utah State University this month, and I spoke briefly with Stan Albrecht. He looked tired. He stood up to speak and said, "You don't know how good it is to speak to a room full of people and not have to talk about football." Everyone laughed. There's a story there! And I bet an interesting one.
9. Look at game film and point out "off-the-ball" stuff. Receivers who block well, running backs who protect the quarterback, etc. Things we might not always pay attention to, but often make the difference between good and bad teams. Analyze the angles Andrew Rich took for an entire game and tell us how this affected the game. Don't be lazy sportswriters!
So, there's a mishmash of offerings that could keep a Brad Rock busy for the next 5 years. I know these topics may have been hit occasionally in the past, and there may be some books on D.I. book shelves covering these things, but the day-to-day, week in and week out, sports column offerings are shallow and mindless.
Bronco was right. The educational level of sports writers is low, indeed. Everytime I watch Bronco being interviewed, I see his half smile and know he's thinking, "I'm dealing with morons."