Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Interpretation

I didn't think my viewpoint was especially rumor-worthy, but apparently it was this time.

Just to clarify a few things, though, because I've gotten emails on the post as well.

I'm not mad at anything or anyone in particular other than the canned control of information. It comes from agents, press officers and institutional rules all over the MLS landscape.

There always exceptions. On both the local teams I cover, there have been players who don't conform to the safe side of things and give sincere answers to questions. Jesse Marsch of Chivas USA is a completely straight-up guy who will give thoughtful answers. Landon Donovan, Galaxy player, will often tell the truth even if it doesn't make him look good.

I do want to stress that I'm not upset with any news breaking elsewhere - I'm glad the information is somewhere. But like Grahame pointed out to Sunil, if you're looking for publicity on your own turf, that's not the way to do it.

As far as MLS goes in general, I do think that the single-entity structure of the league means that the best source is one at MLS headquarters, because all trades and moves have to be approved there.

That actually leaves local reporters at a bit of a disadvantage. Let's say a club is ready to make a move, but doesn't want to confirm it because the league hasn't approved it. They deny the move to the local beat guys. Then headquarters approves the move and someone with a good source (Deep Throat MLS) there could get the news at the same time the club does.

Same problem with U.S. Soccer. By going by the book and not saying anything until a contract is completely signed and confirmed, they leave it open for Spain or whoever they're playing to break the story.

For those who say reporters just have to work harder to break stories - fair point. But I'm talking about soccer needing publicity.

In 2005, Thomas Rongen took Grahame Jones aside for a chat. All the other reporters knew what was happening - Rongen was giving Grahame a scoop. Sure enough, the LA Times ran a top sports story on his resignation the next day. That's just smart, because it gets the team and the sport in an important local paper.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

JAIME, where are you!!!!! Fix the blog man.

East River said...

I to have had problems with getting quotes from MLS or agents of MLS players on a legal paper on single entity I authored law. The people who did provide information were the soccer journalist community and members of MLS'PU. But it took many months and lots of determination on my part to gain the trust of some before I scored some of the information and quotes offered me during that time. Many asked that I not even cite their name when contacting other potential sources let alone citing them in the actual paper.

just another one of you said...

That MLS rumors blog is horrendous. I'll admit that they have improved recently, but it's still a half ass attempt at echoing what you, Goff, Big Soccer already report. They even reported something as a rumor after I speculated in their comments. Which is hilarious given that I have 0 league sources and usually don't even know what's going on until you, Luis, Goff, Carlisle or Bradley report it.

No doubt they are just happy to see they're not the only one getting the cold shoulder.

MC said...

AC, you do a beautiful job. Just keep doing what you do. I liked the post.

Adam said...

keep up the good fight AC!

ghostwriter said...

I thought it was interesting in the USSF round table (how many reporters were there? I wonder) podcast that AC linked us to, Mr. Gulati said that the US does not have a "soccer culture" (no doubt true) and went on to say that he didn't see that changing. That may, perhaps, be realistic in a way, but it's also a bit defeatist. There are segments of the US that have football cultures or baseball cultures, but only segments. The US is too big and too diverse to have just one and USSF and MLS ahould be busy trying to carve out a claim to a US segment that could be called "soccer culture".

They won't do that, I think AC is right there, by letting foreign sources "scoop" local ones with news, player info, and upcoming game info. The most successful managers of "the press" (see Joe Torre or even Ronald Reagan) have always been those who understood that the press have a job to do and gave it respect and value and worked WITH them. Doing it that way even got them the benefit of the doubt sometimes when they needed it.

Both MLS and USSF could do a better job. That may not prevent all instances like Guzan's. I mean the guy stonewalled the local press, probably on league, team, or agent say so. Nothing you can do about that, and if Chivas USA is going to be Communist Bloc secretive about player moves, there's probably no solution to be had.

But it's frustrating for fans and reporters alike as is and if that segment of "soccer culture" is ever to be developed things need to loosen up.

Nice to see MLS has at least opened a dialogue on press relations. Maybe that will lead to improvement. It already got AC back on their beat, and that can't be all bad.

Diane said...

Great job Andrea (and Happy New Year btw). As a relatively new follower of the league, I've already noticed so many things that contradict what are touted as their principles--the "even playing field" among teams, slow growth etc., that they probably have a lot more they would prefer to hide or at least spin.

Just between the DP and appropriations rules--and no apparent rules regarding coaching and back room staff salaries--it seems that owners with money can spend it despite salary and payroll caps. Which of course means that they can get players that bring in more revenue (in some cases staggeringly more revenue than any other team has access to).

The "hiding" was pretty extreme last summer when there was enough lieing regarding Beckham's initial injury, and in how Galaxy matches were promoted, that it came close to putting me off the whole league before I got through a single season.

You guys have written about all of that and more and still remained very supportive of MLS, its teams and certainly its players.

My guess is that someone mistakenly thinks that being candid, or giving access to reporters, will make MLS look bad enough that its not worth the exposure they need. In fact the reverse is true. It's part of being a sports fan to discuss arcane rules, dodgy trades, and financing during the off-season -- most other sports use that to keep us interested when there aren't games to watch!