AJ's Weekly Musings

This week's question -- Do you feel most sports writers are biased? Do you believe newspaper sports sections are biased? Do you believe broadcasters are biased?

In last week's Musings I pondered new North Carolina basketball coach Roy Williams' future.

I used his recruitment of Bremerton, Wash., star Marvin Williams as an example how he will do tremendous things in Chapel Hill. Known as an excellent recruiter in his 15 years at Kansas, Williams will no doubt be amazingly successful with the Tar Heels.

I also stated that I believed he would be more successful at UNC than he was at Kansas, primarily because I feel he will recruit better at Carolina, as it is a more overall attractive place to recruits, and because he should be a better coach, as general improvement should be expected.

I don't intend to rehash all of last week's Musings, but wanted to go over for those that did not read it. My words generated an interesting array of responses, ranging from excited UNC fans to Kansas supporters ridiculing me for writing with "baby blue glasses on," and many other bias inferences.

It got me thinking about fans' perceptions of writers and broadcasters. As the ACC writer for the Wilmington Star-News, I have been called a Duke fan, State fan, Wake fan, and a UNC fan. I was even called an ECU fan once for writing an East Carolina spring football report.

A listener to my radio show, with whom I developed a friendship, thought for a long time I was an N.C. State fan. He was surprised when I informed him I am a fan of no ACC school when working as a journalist, but that I do enjoy the ACC as a whole.

This brings to question if most sports fans think that writers and broadcasters are fans of the teams they cover, and if so, are biased toward those clubs.

Personally, I know that many sports writers are fans, but generally not of the teams they cover. And most that are I don't find to be biased. They have no trouble taking off their fan hats when working.

I do, however, recognize some writers and broadcasters are slanted in their reporting, and this is more often the case with respect to college sports than pro. And it's even more apparent on the Internet, most notably fan sites, similar to Inside Carolina.

However, while I am not speaking for IC in an official manner, I find that our intent on being neutral has been pretty obvious on several fronts, and more so than any "fan site" I have read. So perhaps that my Musings appeared on this site instead of a daily newspaper, like the Star-News, is a big reason why many Kansas fans felt my words were tinted.

TV and radio announcers play very different roles, and their allegiances usually appear in dissimilar ways.

College radio teams are usually fairly biased. Cheering isn't uncommon in SEC radio booths, and general excitement, obvious in the announcer's tone, is predicated on their team's good fortunes.

TV play-by-play announcers rarely show preferences, but sometimes color commentators do. All color guys played the sport they are covering in college, and when doing their alma mater's games, it can be fairly obvious at times. And the worst cases are when a color guy calls a game his son is playing in.

ABC color man Bob Griese did many of his quaterback son Brian's games when he played at Michigan. His did a solid job, certainly better than the disastrous idea CBS came up with having Bill Walton call Arizona's Sweet 16 and regional final games in the 2001 NCAA tournament that included his son, Luke, on the team..

Walton was so ultra negative toward the Wildcats that it crossed the line and entered the realm of sickening.

For the most part, I believe TV announcers do a fine job, and nearly all newspaper writers do their jobs with no biases. However, I am convinced most fans, especially hard core ones, read and listen with extreme biases.

For example, if an announcer says Team A is better than Team B, but that Team B is very good, many fans of Team B will be up in arms, charging biased claims at the broadcaster, etc. In writing this happens all the time. Fans love to levy the charge at newspapers as a whole, citing examples of, "Whenever my team loses it's on the front page but when we win it's on page three, etc…"

There isn't a sports section in American that doesn't hear such charges on a regular basis. At the Star-News, we are often labeled as being biased toward UNC. Many readers charged that our staff that contains "mostly UNC graduates" and simply hates Duke and N.C. State and is pro-UNC.

Of course, there are no graduates of any in-state school on our staff, and the only Carolina grad is our baseball and preps writer, who went to South Carolina.

Newspapers aren't usually biased. There are numerous reasons why it may appear that way, as one game didn't make the paper because it ended past deadline (the Star-News almost never gets its deadline pushed back). But it's usually the tinted eyes of the fan/reader that makes such accusations.

A perfect example is KU fans saying I wrote that Williams would win six NCAA titles and go to 10 Final Fours in 15 years at Carolina. I never suggested that, I merely threw out some numbers for people to chew on. I actually predicted two titles and six Final Fours, which is a lot, but similar to what Dean Smith accomplished in his last 15 years as Carolina's coach.

So, this week's questions are, do you feel most sports writers are biased? Do you believe newspaper sports sections are biased? Do you believe broadcasters are biased? If so for any, please explain why.

Also, do you agree that most fans – short for fanatical – read and listen with biases?

I will post some responses in next week's Musings. Please send all responses to totlsprts@aol.com.

Reader Response

From Rock Chock

Last week's question was, "Will Roy Williams dominate in recruiting and will it lead to unmatched success at Carolina? Just how many Final Fours and national titles will he accumulate?"

Kansas's tournament record was actually better before Roy Williams came to Kansas. Kansas was also able to win a title under Larry Brown before Roy got there. KU isn't a small program and UNC has nothing on KU. Hell, last time I checked your arena was named after a Kansan, and Kentucky for that matter. If you haven't noticed all of these NIT appearances and losing seasons have brought KU within 13 of UNC on the all time win list. Which another season like last year out of UNC and you'll get passed.

Kansas has no problem bringing in talent, maybe you should consider that Kansas was a recruiting tool for Roy, and Roy wasn't a recruiting tool for Self. It's finally going to be nice to have coach that doesn't choke like a dog in the Tourney.

Have fun

From JD at UMKC

You need to take off the UNC blinders a little. Roy isn't going to win six titles, nor will he win two. You think a coaching change is going to cure all the problems for a program that hasn't been to the sweet 16 since 2000? It is easy to blame Doherty for everything, but you need to consider the fact that the players are a bunch of babies that quit in several games last year. How is a snake-bitten coach supposed to lead you to six rings with the same team and one new recruit for next year? I expect you to write a similar column after Roy is gone and he brings you home nothing but more disappointment and lost chances. Enjoy it.

From Christopher Scapillato

I think it will be extremely difficult to predict how much success Roy Williams will have at UNC, especially many of the teams will have players that we are not even familiar with yet.

Having said that Coach Williams has proven to the entire college basketball world how versatile he is as a coach and revered as a friend by his current and former players. I strongly feel that Roy has a great shot at winning his first title at UNC during his second season, especially if he can convince Felton, McCants and Williams to stay another year.

After that it is anybody's guess what he will be able to accomplish. A staple in the UNC basketball program is that most players don't stay for all four years and some only play for two. I feel that this has been the biggest blow to the Tar Heels winning more national championships then the three they have already won. Having said that I think Coach Williams will one national title while at UNC, maybe two and will reach four or five more final fours in his career, as I only see him staying in coaching ten more years and then retiring for good.

Senior writer Andrew Jones is in his seventh year with Inside Carolina. He also covers the ACC for the Wilmington Star-News/Morning Star and can be reached via e-mail at: totlsprts@aol.com.

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