By Dave Campbell
Journalists are cynical. I’m not certain whether it’s more because we are skeptical folks at heart and intrinsically need to see proof or because we see so much duplicity and deviousness in detail.
Or maybe it’s just because we are prone to see the effects of the world, including our actions or mistakes, on our subjects, up close.
I’ll always remember the scene in a favorite old movie called Absence of Malice where a young reporter played by Sally Field is so reckless in attempting to nail a story that it leads to a woman, a principal in the story, taking her own life. An editor mentor tries to console the crushed Fields by offering her a desk position at the paper, suggesting maybe it’s time to come in from the daily storm:
“Too many people out there. A lot of news is bad news for somebody. You stay out there too long, the somebodies start adding up.”
Well, I never wanted to be an editor. I always wanted to be on the street, in the arena, seeing in person events as they happened. That involvement can come with a cost.
When I was 30, about the age of the young reporter in Absence of Malice, I was told by my editor to go cover a story about a college student who had been too terrified to admit to her parents that she had become pregnant. She wore blousy clothes, tried not to eat too much and desperately hid her secret from everyone. Finally, she gave birth by herself in a dormitory bathroom and then left the baby in a dumpster to die.
It was a gruesome story that I told in as much detail as I could muster, relating police documents, collecting anecdotes about the young woman’s background, talking to friends, other students, even quoting a Bible-thumping preacher yelling to passersby on the quad: “Are you the murderess? Are you? You’re all responsible!”
My editors were very pleased with the story when I finished it that evening. It got play on A1. I did not feel especially proud, only that I’d done my job.
A few months later, we ran another small wire story on that young woman, tucked in the back of the state news section. It said she had taken her own life.
That’s been nearly three decades ago. It still pops into my head now and then. Not because I made any mistakes with the facts in that story: I didn’t. Not because I knew for sure that it had any effect at all on the young woman; I never knew.
Only because it suggested to me that what we do can have an effect on our subjects maybe more than we realize. It gave me my first lesson in empathy, one I’ve learned and re-learned throughout a 36-year career.
I’d like to think we can make a difference in a positive way. I love this business because of that. I love the people in it. And I see the great work they do. Many times they are journalists from small outlets that might be judged inconsequential. But their stories are anything but.
I cite, for example, The Daily Collegian of Penn State’s exposé of a pair of women’s gymnastics coaches of whom athletes alleged emotional abuse; and the nmfishbowl.com blog that exposed unflattering exit interviews with departing athletes who repeatedly alleged they were not allowed to take the classes they wanted to obtain a meaningful degree.
This is the type of work that FWAA writers have done, can do and, I’m confident, will. I’m inspired by them and believe we can help college football players protect themselves from administrators who do not always have their best interests in mind when presented with the overriding factors of profit.
Whether it is pressure to perform when not physically able, abusive coaches, encouragement to enroll in tailored curriculum not worthy of a genuine degree, improper concussion protocol, the over-issuance of addictive opioid pain medications or any other action that imperils or creates a disadvantage to the athlete, that’s where we should be —reporting, uncovering, afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted.
As the 74th president of the FWAA, walking in the large footprints of predecessors such as Paul Zimmerman, Blackie Sherrod, Jack Murphy, Ivan Maisel, Tony Barnhart and Dick Weiss, that is my goal: Be cynical and skeptical in a productive way. Let’s get out on the fields — and into the back hallways and public records — and make a difference.
A few reminders and notes:
Finally, I’d like to express how much I enjoyed your reception in Tampa and assure you that I will dedicate this year to do my best in encouraging diligence, fairness and empathy. Be proud of what we do. And let’s resolve to be audacious and to answer to our better spirits in all our endeavors of 2017.
PORTSMOUTH, VA – FWAA member Jack Bogaczyk, an award-winning sports reporter and columnist in Roanoke, has been named to the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame
Bogaczyk spent 28 years in the sports media business in Roanoke, nearly 27 of those in the newspaper business, first at The World-News and then The Roanoke Times after the merger of the two daily papers. At the Roanoke newspaper, Bogaczyk was a beat reporter, general assignment reporter, senior writer and lead columnist. He also wrote the newspaper’s Sports TV/Radio column for 19 years — one of the first in the nation to do that on a weekly basis. Bogaczyk won 13 national writing awards and 35 state honors in a daily newspaper career that started in 1966 while he was in high school.
While in Roanoke, Bogaczyk’s work focused mostly on major college athletics, and he was the beat reporter covering Virginia Military Institute and then Virginia Tech in a period from 1979 to 1988. His award-winning, 35-part series on Hokies athletics in 1985 contributed to administrative and culture changes in the Tech program.
That same year, he won the Virginia Horse Council’s media award for a series on the equine business in the Commonwealth. In his career, Bogaczyk covered the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, the Super Bowl, the World Series, multiple Daytona 500s, 11 NCAA Final Fours, 28 NCAA basketball tournaments and 15 different college bowl games (31 total). The conference basketball tournaments he has covered include the ACC, Big East, Metro, Colonial, Southern, Atlantic 10, Big South, ODAC and WVIAC.
The 46th Annual Induction Banquet will take place on Saturday, April 29 at the Renaissance Portsmouth-Norfolk Waterfront Hotel in Portsmouth as the headline event of Hall of Fame weekend. Tickets are now on sale. For more information, call (757) 393-8031 or visit www.vshfm.com.
About the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame & Museum:
Since 1972, the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame & Museum has been proud to honor Virginia’s contributions to the world of sports. The Virginia Sports Hall of Fame & Museum is the Commonwealth’s official hall of fame, and one of only 16 throughout the nation. Their mission is to honor athletic excellence and serve as a nonprofit educational resource centered on health, math, science and character development programs, while inspiring visitors through sports history and interactive entertainment.
Edwin Pope, who covered South Florida sports for decades as a columnist for the Miami Herald and was named winner of the FWAA’s prestigious Bert McGrane Award in 2001, died Thursday in Okeechobee, Fla. He was 88.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Charlotte Touchdown Club, in conjunction with the Football Writers Association of America, officially announced today Kirby Smart, Head Football Coach at the University of Georgia, as Keynote Speaker for the 2017 Bronko Nagurski Awards Banquet scheduled for Monday, December 4th.
“Coach Smart is truly one of college football’s hot young head coaches and we look forward to hearing his take on today’s college football scene at the 2017 Bronko Nagurski Awards Banquet Presentation” said John Rocco Executive Director of the Charlotte Touchdown Club.
“As a defensive coordinator for many years, I recognize that the Bronko Nagurski Trophy is one of college football’s most prestigious awards and I look forward to recognizing some of college football’s finest defensive players at the Nagurski Banquet on December 4th,” said University of Georgia Head Football Coach Kirby Smart.
On December 6, 2015, when named Georgia’s Head Football Coach Smart said, “It’s an honor and privilege to return home to the University of Georgia and my home state. I’m deeply appreciative of the faith President Morehead, Greg McGarity, and the Athletic Board Executive Committee have demonstrated in asking me to lead one of the truly great college football programs in the country.”
Smart, who got his start in coaching as a Georgia administrative assistant in 1999, served on the Alabama staff for nine years, with his final seven seasons as defensive coordinator. During his tenure at Alabama, the Crimson Tide won three BCS National Championships, one College Football Playoff national title, three Southeastern Conference crowns, six SEC western division titles, and been ranked in the nation’s final top ten rankings eight years in a row.
Smart was recognized as the 2012 AFCA Assistant Coach of the Year and the 2009 Broyles Award winner as college football’s top assistant coach. He was also a 2015 finalist for the 2015 Broyles Award. A former standout defensive back and scholar-athlete at Georgia, Smart was one of the nation’s most respected defensive coordinators. Smart coached Alabama’s inside linebackers in 2015 after tutoring the safeties in 2014. He also coached the inside linebackers from 2009-12.
Prior to joining the Alabama staff in 2007, Smart spent the 2006 season as safeties coach with the NFL’s Miami Dolphins. He served six years on the collegiate level as the running backs coach at Georgia (2005), defensive backs coach at LSU (2004), graduate assistant coach at Florida State (2002-03), defensive coordinator/linebackers coach (2001) and defensive backs coach (2000) at Valdosta State.
As the running backs coach on Georgia’s 2005 SEC Championship team, Smart’s Bulldogs unit averaged 162.2 rushing yards per game, third in the SEC. He coached Thomas Brown, Danny Ware, and Kregg Lumpkin—all of whom had NFL careers. In 2004 at LSU, he tutored two NFL draft picks: Corey Webster (2nd round, New York Giants) and Travis Daniels (4th round, Miami Dolphins).
As a player, Smart was a four-year letterman at defensive back for Georgia, where he was a first team all-SEC pick as a senior. He finished his career with 13 interceptions, which was fourth in Georgia annals, and led the Bulldogs with six interceptions in 1997 and five in 1998. A four-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll, Smart earned his undergraduate degree in finance from Georgia and his master’s degree from Florida State in 2003.
A native of Bainbridge, Ga., Smart received his BBA degree in Finance from the University of Georgia in 1998 and his M.S. in Physical Education from Florida State in 2003. He is married to the former Mary Beth Lycett of McDonough, Ga., a four-year letter winner on the Georgia women’s basketball team from 2000-2003. The couple are the proud parents of twins Weston and Julia and son Andrew.
About ACN, Inc.
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About Florida East Coast Railway
FECR is a regional freight railroad that extends along a 351-mile corridor between Jacksonville, Fla., and Miami, Fla., with exclusive rail access to the Port of Palm Beach, Port Everglades (Ft. Lauderdale) and the Port of Miami. For more information, visit fecrwy.com
Electrolux is a global leader in appliances for household and professional use, selling more than 50 million products to customers in more than 150 countries every year. The company focuses on innovations that are thoughtfully designed, based on extensive consumer insight, to meet the real needs of consumers and professionals. Electrolux products include refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines, vacuum cleaners, cookers and air-conditioners sold under esteemed brands such as Electrolux, Frigidaire, Kelvinator, AEG, and Eureka. In 2012, Electrolux had sales of $17 billion ($5.1 billion in North America) and 58,000 employees. The Electrolux North American headquarters is located at 10200 David Taylor Drive, Charlotte, NC 28262 in the University Research Park. For more information visit http://newsroom.electrolux.com/us/.
About The Independence Fund
The Independence Fund is a nonprofit organization that empowers our nation’s severely wounded veterans and the caregivers who support them to take control of their lives. Through its dedicated mobility and treatment programs, the Fund assists veterans in transforming their lives toward a better future. The Independence Fund believes we owe it to our veterans to provide the resources they need to move forward and build a strong foundation toward lasting emotional and physical healing in order to reestablish their independence. To learn more, visit www.independencefund.org.
The Bronko Nagurski Trophy is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA), which was founded in 1997 as a coalition of the major collegiate football awards to protect, preserve and enhance the integrity, influence and prestige of the game’s predominant awards. The NCFAA encourages professionalism and the highest standards for the administration of its member awards and the selection of their candidates and recipients. For more information, visit the association’s official website, www.NCFAA.org.
The Charlotte Touchdown Club is a non-profit organization founded in 1990 for the purpose of promoting high school, collegiate, and professional football in the Charlotte, N.C., region. The club’s activities and services focus community attention on the outstanding citizenship, scholarship, sportsmanship, and leadership of area athletes and coaches. Since 1990, the club has raised more than $2,000,000 to benefit area high school and collegiate athletics. For more information, contact John Rocco (704-347-2918 or firstname.lastname@example.org). The official website of the Charlotte Touchdown Club is www.touchdownclub.com. The Bronko Nagurski Trophy is presented annually by the Charlotte Touchdown Club and the Football Writers Association of America to the nation’s most outstanding NCAA defensive football player at the Bronko Nagurski Awards Banquet in Charlotte, NC. All proceeds benefit the Charlotte Touchdown Club Scholarship Fund.