I was watching some broadcast that mentioned journalistic objectivity and it reminded me of a slightly awkward situation I had recently. In hindsight, I'm not sure where to draw the line at bring a reporter versus a human being with feelings.
In the visitor's locker room when Real Salt Lake was in town, I talked first to Robbie Findley (it's always easier to start off with a player one knows a little). Nearby there was a group of reporters around Fabian Espindola, who'd been injured during the game, due to that self-inflicted flip of his. Jaime Cardenas was translating for the English speakers and Fabian.
I ventured over as the group moved on, asking Fabian in Spanish if he would answer a few questions. He agreed.
I asked a couple of questions about the game and the late offside call, and if he had done anything different on the flip than he normally did. Then I tried to ask something that put his injury into a specific context.
"You've been playing so well recently, does that make your injury and the way it was caused even worse?"
I expected something along the lines of, "Yeah, it's bad luck."
I don't know if the full impact of what happened hit Fabian just then, but his face fell and he looked crushed. "I feel terrible," he said. "When I think about how well I was playing and how hard I worked to come back from my earlier injury - I feel like crying."
What a dramatic quote. Suddenly, I realized it wasn't just an emotional statement. Fabian's eyes welled with tears. He tried to blink them back and looked away.
I stood there with my recorder feeling like a schmuck. Should I say something sympathetic? Would that compromise my reporter viewpoint? Would the other reporters notice I'd made a player cry?
I bailed, pretending nothing unusual had happened. "Thanks," I said, moving away to interview someone else as quickly as I could.
Honestly, I felt bad for the guy. But I also felt like I couldn't show that at all. Looking back, though, I wonder if I was being professional, or cold.
Or maybe just wimpy - worried about my rep in the pressbox.