Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Should Reporters be Sidelined?

Having already blogged a bit about the continuing uselessness of sideline sports reporting, I thought that would be enough on the subject. But that was before I saw maybe the most brutal instance of sideline reporting ... ever.

Luckily for Danyelle Sargent, now of FOX and formerly of ESPN, this moment (update: it appears YouTube has removed the video clip for copyright reasons; FOX was extremely upset that other outlets got hold of the unaired footage and distributed it across the Internet) from last Sunday was taped and not live, so producers had a chance to kill it before it ever went on the air. (By way of explanation, Sargent asked new 49ers coach Mike Singletary whether his mentor Bill Walsh called to congratulate him on getting the job. Walsh died in 2007 and was never a coach or mentor to Singletary). For her part, Sargent has been appropriately apologetic and genuinely upset over what happened. And much of the media has also been sympathetic, generally sticking to the 'it-could-happen-to-anyone' line.

Sorry, but I don't agree. Sargent had a similarly embarrassing moment while working for ESPN, so this is nothing new. (Whether it had anything to do her leaving ESPN for a less visible role with FOX remains unknown). More importantly, Sargent's history indicates a disturbing lack of professionalism. As a sideline reporter she is supposed to work on behalf of the audience; to be their eyes and ears on the sideline. Yet, she didn't even know she misspoke until a producer told her through her earpiece.

It would be easy to turn this into another "get women off the sidelines" issue, but that's not the point. If we have to suffer through sideline reporters they had better be professional and know what they are doing.

A total embarrassment to sideline reporting, which is saying a lot.


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