Today I am going to start with a question: If you take the human element out of sports, and have no personal connection to your team then what reason do you have to cheer for them?
Forgive the tardiness of this blog, but being a sports reporter means taking your weekends in the middle of the work week. That being said, I returned from my very relaxing two days out of the office and was greeted with a truly unbelievable e-mail. It came from the Air Force Academy sports information office.
I will cut to the chase and post a short excerpt from this e-mail which details the guidelines of how our coverage of Air Force Football will be dictated to us.
"Air Force football practices: Air Force football practices at home are open to the public and media Mondays through Wednesday with the following guidelines: Those watching practice are not allowed to text message, blog or report (including injuries) on anything that happens during any weekday practices. Failure to follow this guideline will result in closing future practices."
First, the good news, practice is still open....for now. How long that will last remains to be seen and at this rate it would not be a surprise to see that change in the next year or two. Now the bad news. Any information you obtain and store in your brain by watching the practice is apparently owned by the Air Force Academy. Don't text message a buddy of yours who is a fellow Air Force fan, that a starter suffered a major injury and may be out for the season, or everybody gets kicked out. Your thoughts and your knowledge no longer belongs to you.
Now to what this means for your local newspaper, radio and television reporters. We will still have access to certain players on certain days during a very short time period dictated by the Academy. However it should be interesting to see what questions we will be allowed to ask. If we are not allowed to report on anything that happens during practice, that would mean we can't ask them about a certain position battle or how well they are picking up the offense.
I hope all of you out there in TV land are interested in finding out Tim Jefferson's favorite color, or what Asher Clark likes to eat for dessert. Without talking specifics of the weeks events, those are the kind of generic questions and answers you will get.
This isn't new and it certainly isn't limited to the Air Force Academy. There are many organizations out there that value their secrecy, but sports and reporting on sports go hand in hand, one can't survive without the other.
For example, if you are Broncos fan and you are limited to zero information about how thing are going throughout the week (who is injured, who is starting at quarterback, etc.), are you still going to be as excited to watch that team on Sunday? Reporting on sports allows you to learn about and get to know the players under the helmet. Which brings me back to my initial question; If you take the human element out of sports, and have no personal connection to your team then what reason do you have to cheer for them?
Coaches don't seem to understand that their teams don't belong to them, they belong to the fans. Without the fans the seats remain empty, the television camera's stay away and high paying coaching jobs go by the way of the dinosaur.
So we would like to apologize in advance for our coverage of Air Force Football this season, but as I've laid out, you can only do so much when you are blindfolded with both hands tied behind your back.
Please feel free to leave your questions or comments.