Being a sports writer or commentator isn't all that it's cracked up to be in Everybody Loves Raymond or Colin Cowherd's upcoming CBS sitcom. For one, there are far fewer daily innuendos about breast implants, and for two, it's actually a job, rather than a vehicle for an occasional guest spot from Keith Hernandez or Lou Ferrigno. It's also a job that invites a lot of criticism, and in the last few weeks, we've seen lots of it directed (both justly and unjustly) toward the men and women who cover Ohio State football and college football in general.
This is deeply ingrained in OSU fandom; the fact that 90% of us subconsciously spell every instance of the World Wide Leader in our mind's eye as "ESPiN" or "E(SEC)PN" is a testament to the kind of distrust that many OSU fans have toward the sports media world. When you feel your team has been unfairly treated it becomes increasingly easy to see bias from all directions, and the worse the scandal that breaks, the more one might be offended.
Now, beginning with the initial Yahoo! Sports report by Dan Wetzel and Charles Robinson, which many OSU fans initially dismissed out of hand, it seems like there has been increasing anger with the sports media as they continue to report on the Jim Tressel story. Some of it is justified; professional trolls in the vein of Bruce Hooley make a living trying to anger fans and attract more attention to themselves. These people aren't making any sort of effort to add to our information about a subject; they're simply trying to manufacture outrage from a group of people already primed to be angry and wanting to vent about it. Any fan anger directed toward these people isn't going to make me lose any sleep at night.
What interests me more than that is the reaction of fans to legitimate reporters, people whose job it is to learn about and uncover aspects of Ohio State athletics. I've noticed in recent weeks, as each new revelation is unfurled before our disbelieving eyes, that some fans seem to be getting more and more hostile toward the people pulling back the curtain. In a certain respect I can understand this. No one liked the kid who told everyone in 3rd grade that Santa wasn't real. But the range of reactions, from apathy to outright hostility toward the writers involved in the reporting of this incident both surprises me and interests me, and that's the question I ask of you today:
What has been your reaction to the reporting of the Jim Tressel story, and why do you feel that way?
I will say this: one of the most difficult things about writing for a website like Eleven Warriors is trying to strike a balance between being a fan and being a writer; every guy who writes for this website is a fan of Ohio State sports, especially football, but we also try to bring you real insight and analysis. When we read or hear about something negative in any Ohio State sports program, it sucks. Everyone who writes for this website are great fans of OSU, and any black eye to the university hits home particularly hard.
Still, we also try and be objective in the face of adversity, and Eleven Warriors being a fan site grants us a certain amount of immunity when it comes to criticism of how we approach a story. If we criticize Tressel one day, an article the next day lauding the triumphs of the basketball team might act as a salve for people who might be irked by how we approached the first item. It's not intentional, but the point is that our medium allows us to show our love for OSU sports without compromising our integrity.
The last point that I want to make is that I'm not trying to call out fans here. Lazy and inaccurate reporting definitely exists, and oftentimes fans are right for pointing it out. But I think that in this case, the reporting of OSU violations has mostly been on point throughout, and when I read posts and comments saying that reporters are reveling in the problems in the OSU football program, it makes me wonder how many people actually feel that is the case. So if you could, in the comments section, tell us your thoughts on the subject and help provide a little insight into the current state of the mind of the fans.