By Michael Hicks
The press box announcer is usually very loud and clear when reminding members of the media of the rule — no cheering in the press box. It’s that simple.
Now, it can get tough not to cheer for a play or a team or a player because, like you, we are fans as well. Good Lord knows I’ll lose my voice cheering on the Dallas Cowboys. You can guarantee I’ll do that Oct. 4 when I’m at Invesco Field at Mile High. But that’s because I have a ticket and won’t be there working the game.
However, as journalists, we get a unique perspective out there. We see people unlike anybody else. This is especially true when you cover teams game in and game out, year in and year out. Maybe with the exception of their family, we see people differently than any other person.
But while we might see these people on a regularly basis, in no way, shape or form should we allow our journalistic integrity to interfere with the job. That sometimes can be difficult. But it’s part of the job.
So why do I bring this up? Because time and time again I have seen players granting a high-five to a beat writer or a congratulatory hug. I saw it again last week.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ll congratulate a player or a coach from time to time. But have I ever given them a hug after a victory? No. Will I ever? No. Shoot, I don’t even go up to players and ask them for an autograph — pro athletes, that is — if I’m at the game in an official capacity. Sorry, Berthoud High student-athletes, I won’t be asking for your autograph. At least not yet. Maybe when you are famous, and I’m not covering the event, I will.
I didn’t even do this when I was refereeing pro wrestling matches, and I saw that all the time as well. Other referees weren’t shy about asking wrestlers for autographs, even in the locker room.
Just like when we write articles that aren’t always the nicest or may put a person in a bad light; we might have our opinions but we shouldn’t let those influence the story.
I, as do many journalists who cover high school athletics, like to walk the sidelines during Friday night football games. For me there are multiple reasons to do so. One, I might be taking photos. I have to be down on the sideline. It’s the only way I can shoot the picture.
Two, it’s the atmosphere of the game. You can’t do that at college or pro games, but in high school walking the sideline just seems natural. Sure, I could sit in the press box and sometimes I do, especially if the weather isn’t accommodating.
But a lot of times I’m walking the sideline, sometimes because there is no space in the press box.
When I’m walking, you won’t see me talk to the coaches. I might ask the statistician for help on a play or say hi to a person here or there, but usually I’m pretty quiet, pretty stoic. I’m there to do a job, not to be buddy-buddy with anyone. I wish I could say the same thing for all journalists.