Sports Journalism: How to get your bias daily

Last night, as I went to my paper delivery job, I got the pleasure of reading Indiana Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association (ISSA) Hall of Famer Al Hamnik, who also works for The Northwest Indiana Times as a columnist of some renown. However, what I got was the typical pro-management bias that pervades all sports columnist writing. Let me explain.

But Tuesday, Angelo definitely brought his “A” game while discussing the much-publicized contract foibles of Brian Urlacher, Robbie Gould, Tommie Harris and Devin Hester. This is a man [Angelo] who takes tremendous pride in being fair and sensitive to his players’ needs and does not appreciate being cast in a negative light

With still four years left on his $57 million contract — $13 million of it guaranteed — Urlacher has come out of this as the biggest loser. He wants the Bears to give him a new deal for more money. They’ve offered a one-year, $10 million extension, which he turned down.

Those of us living paycheck to paycheck can sympathize, right?

[K] Gould and [DT] Harris are signed through 2008, [KR] Hester 2009. They are priorities, much as Urlacher doesn’t want to hear that. He’s skipping voluntary workouts at Halas Hall and has threatened to blow off training camp as well. Your [It’s you’re the] face of the Chicago Bears is sticking its tongue out at fans and teammates.

Urlacher had no complaints — until Lance Briggs got his six-year, $56 million deal late last season. Then suddenly, the All-Pro middle linebacker who plays like a beast but whines like a baby began making threats and pouting. It’s not the first time for Urlacher and it won’t be the last.

Urlacher has had neck and back surgery, and with every season being a physical beatdown at his position, nobody in their right mind is going to shower him with cash.

“The good news is, all these players we’re talking about are under contract. They’re Bears,” Angelo said. “You’re not going to have one big happy family. If you’ve raised kids and a family in your home, then you know it’s certainly not going to happen here at Halas Hall where we have 53 kids.”

Urlacher’s financial security was never in doubt. He is set for life based on his current pact and countless endorsements. The grumbling is all about ego and greed.This is the real Brian Urlacher and you can take that to the bank.

All-Pro LB Brian Urlacker has issues with his contract because:
1) He has performed better than ALL 3 of those particular players. One hasn’t even suited up on Sunday yet.
2) Lance Briggs did not get more money ($36 million not $56 million, Hamnik) but he did get the same guaranteed money, $13 million, which means both players are considered equal in some respects – injury wise.
3) LB Brian Urlacker could be paralyzed for life, as the violent nature of the sport has always that chance, and no longer “be set for life.” (His back issues lend some credence to that concern.)
4) The Bears can cut him at anytime – avoiding roster/salary bonuses and nullifying the remainder of his contract.
Hamnik’s name calling, he’s a baby, a greedy player, a whiner, a loser of some sort, is typical pro-management name calling in order to control a player, or to embarass them into foregoing their renegotiating tactics. Using the fan is living paycheck to paycheck analogy is also a logically flawed argument.
Urlacker is a special commodity. Very, very few can do what he can do. (In fact, only 32 men play MLB in the NFL, and say, 4 or 5, are really, really good at it.) That said, he can demand a significant price in a free-market economy. Shop his talents elsewhere – if freed from contract. The fact his contract sucks means he will do whatever is needed to obtain proper compensation. And those tactics, however grating to our senses, are fair if they work. Holding out as an NFL player is a method of last resort.
If you or I were incredibly unique or specially talented, we also would like proper compensation for our skills. And we would not let a contract negotiated against our future interests stop us. But if we had a long-term career, say writing, for example, we can expect to do numerous deals over the course of a 30-40-50 year career of putting out our work.
An NFL player, on average, plays 3-4 years. Urlacker will be entering his 9th season at age 30. As a result, he might only have 3-5 years left as a dominate player, being very optimistic. After that, the big paychecks stop coming and his endorsements will dry up, most likely. As a result, Urlacker is trying to get as much as possible as soon as possible. Seems pretty logical.
Al Hamnik begrudges him that, as he also did OLB Lance Briggs last year during his contract holdout – franchise tag situation. He writes to appease management – to keep his access to the team at a maximum – and will not critique/criticize Jerry Angelo’s tactics too harshly. Or properly respond to what Urlacker’s motivation really is.
He’s a typical sports journalist. Nothing more. Not special and certainly not worthy of high praise. It does not surprise that Hamnik has spent 30+ years writing for mediocre newspapers and protecting management by running down good or HOF players. Feeding fans the sports gospel according to saint Al.
If he addressed market issues, made logical cases against Urlacker’s demands and emphasized salary cap or personnel decisions, then his piece, would have been more worthy. As it stands, he’s not worth reading.
And you, my fellow blogger, can put that in the piggy bank.
But then again, maybe I should take Al Hamnik’s Sports Writing course to improve myself and rate special on the writer’s market.
Note: I am not an Urlacker fan. I do not believe he deserves a better salary, however, I respect his methods to obtain what he feels is his due. As THE FACE of the BEARS, wouldn’t you want the most?
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One Response to Sports Journalism: How to get your bias daily

  1. cooper says:

    Seeing as your blog demands “witty comments” , I see there is no hope for e n the face of sports. 😉


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