Vol. 46, No. 1 November 2008 .pdf version
Dick Jerardi: USBWA has much to offer
Joe Mitch: Election Days coming up for USBWA
Steve Carp: Invite your local college-paper writer
Mel Greenberg: Womens coverage feeling the brunt
Lenox Rawlings: Cramped and courtside works
Ted Gangi: Better manage your e-mail

Cramped and courtside is a tradeoff that works for everyone

By LENOX RAWLINGS / Winston-Salem Journal

A few years back, when covering a game from the end-zone bleachers seemed unusual as well as stupid, the University of Maryland opened its shiny, new center.

Among the amenities: end-zone bleacher seats for the minimally tolerated press.

Any reporter who ever saw the T-shirts demanding certain actions against Duke or heard the bombs dropped on J.J. Redick might consider end-zone bleacher seats a logical extension of the red-carpet treatment.

Or maybe those are just provincial customs.

Anyone who ever tried to cover a Washington Redskins game from the lowdown, tucked-away corner between the upper and lower decks might infer that a certain disdain for journalists permeates the Beltsville sporting culture. I f you want to see punts, passes or kicks in all their dropped-from-the-sky glory, the Redskins' press box isn't the place.

These viewing obstacles flow from different outlets and different attitudes. Maryland's press seats probably have less to do with the state of mutual respect than with reverential respect for money. Sideline seats that enable donors to grind their heels on the painted hardwood generate tremendous revenues. Most reporters don't even want to buy a tepid dog.

Maryland built the arena, which has excellent sight lines and surprising intimacy for a 17,566-seat telescope. (The building can't match Cole Fieldhouse for proximity or raw emotion, but time dribbles on.) Maryland chose its preferred revenue sources, joining many other colleges in premium-seat marketing.

At N.C. State, for instance, the most prominent donor controls several sidecourt seats on what was exclusively press row when the Raleigh arena opened. In addition to the seats at the press table, used mainly by his family, the donor gets a monitor that constantly updates the boxscore. He keeps the monitor under the table, at his feet.

This isn't about Maryland or N.C. State. This isn't about Georgia Tech, North Carolina or Wake Forest, all of which shifted the majority of press seats into elevated end-zone areas. This is about perspectives.

During the first game I covered in Maryland's new place, the reporter on my right elbow had trouble identifying players who committed fouls and got rebounds at the far end. That isn't an extreme rarity among multitasking witnesses, regardless of where schools put the press seats.

The central point: This has nothing to do with reporters' rights to the best seats, because no such rights exist in the U.S. Constitution or NCAA bylaws. This has everything to do with the public's unwritten right to the most accurate information, even at basketball games.

In a reasonable world, the information occasionally involves coaching behavior but more often involves the nuances of players' styles and personalities, the details and expressions and emotions that tell the story. Those kinds of stories engage the reader and increase the sport's appeal. Those stories tend to get lost in the hazy, noisy distance.

Schools benefit financially from selling the sidecourt seats. They also benefit from sharing some of those seats with reporters. Duke does that, still reserving the sideline across from the benches for the media.

The residue: collateral spit, showers of blue glitter and nudges from outraged students, followed by annual odes to the beauty of basketball in cozy Cameron Indoor Stadium. That's a trade-off that benefits all the teams.

May 2018
March 2018
January 2018
November 2017
May 2017
March 2017
January 2017
November 2016
May 2016
March 2016
January 2016
November 2015
May 2015
March 2015
January 2015
November 2014
May 2014
March 2014
January 2014
November 2013
May 2013
March 2013
January 2013
November 2012
May 2012
March 2012
January 2012
November 2011
August 2011
May 2011
March 2011
February 2011
November 2010
May 2010
March 2010
February 2010
November 2009
May 2009
April 2009
February 2009
November 2008
May 2008
April 2008
February 2008
November 2007
May 2007
March 2007
February 2007
November 2006
May 2006
March 2006
January 2006
November 2005
May 2005 (.pdf)
March 2005 (.pdf)
January 2005 (.pdf)
November 2004 (.pdf)
May 2004 (.pdf)
March 2004 (.pdf)
January 2004 (.pdf)
November 2003 (.pdf)
May 2003 (.pdf)
March 2003 (.pdf)
January 2003 (.pdf)
November 2002 (.pdf)
January 2002 (.pdf)
November 2001 (.pdf)