Soccer larceny and homer reporting — feedback & update
J-school prof Ivor Shapiro’s complaint that Canadian sports reporters uncritically promoted a we-was-robbed version of the Canada-US Women’s Olympic soccer final provoked Contrarian readers to provide contrary examples, and a testy chinwag amount tweeting Halifax journos (viz.: @pdmcleod, @bbhorne).
Ruth Davenport, who knows a little about news, thinks he jumped the gun:
Shapiro’s beef stuck in my craw for the same reason any unfounded assertion of laziness or incompetence sticks in my craw: it’s unfounded. He was griping about a lack of reporting that was patently in evidence – he just didn’t bother to look. Even if those particular pieces hadn’t been published when he wrote his blog post, it’s just stupid to pass judgment on the reporting of a major event the morning after when the story is still unfolding. This is especially true in sports reporting when the first phase of a story is always about the human response, the emotion, the reaction; analysis and dissection is always the next step, when emotions have settled a little and everyone’s had some distance. I think it would be a total disservice to reporting to skip over that first step and suppress it in favour of the second; I also think it’s completely unreasonable to suggest everything must be reported in one fell swoop. Stories evolve in a pretty predictable pattern, as did this one, so why jump the gun and start bitching that the larvae doesn’t look anything like a butterfly?
She pointed to this excellent NY Times piece on the dustup over the Norwegian referee’s unusual call.
The rule in question falls under Law 12 of FIFA’s Laws of the Game. FIFA’s official interpretation of that law includes a notation that states “a goalkeeper is not permitted to keep control of the ball in his hands for more than six seconds.”
But U.S. Soccer, the English Football Association and other governing bodies have emphasized to referees that the rule is discretionary, and is not meant to be called except for egregious violations.
[Video link]. McLeod is certainly taking her time.
As Davenport points out, this Andrew Potter piece in the Citizen, and this one by The Star’s Chantaie Allick, provide the kind of balanced, authoritative analysis whose alleged absence Shapiro bemoaned. But then the Star also had this florid account from Cathal Kelly, one I suspecdt may have helped provoke Shapiro’s rant. It’s a fun read, featuring bleeding protons and disappointment leading to concussion, but fair and balanced it ain’t. [UPDATE] And Bethany Horne points to this admirably detailed Newsday story, which makes the case for the US team (and the ref).
On the subject of bad refereeeing as opposed to bad reporting, Contrarian reader Wayne Fiander adds:
If you watched CBC national last night you would have seen an outside British commentator remark that “I have broadcast 80 games this season and did not see that 6-second call made all year”. I think the ref simply cracked under pressure – she had called a pretty even game up until then. That bad call lead to a second bad call which lead to the game being tied. Then there was a three minute ad-on for extra time when after the entire second half lead to a two minute add-on. USA was bound to win after those three strikes.
This hopefully ends Contrarian’s career as a football commentator.