When we hear stories from victims of domestic abuse, sometimes we want to ask why did the victim stay in such an abusive relationship for as long as she did. Why endure such abuse, we wonder, when you could ‘easily’ just leave that toxic environment?
Often the victim offers the explanation that her emotional fragility and her financial liabilities—I know, I know, nitpicker, men are abused too—do not make it easy to take up her belongings and walk, leaving the abusive situation behind.
What, you might be wondering, does this have to do with sports or, more specifically, sports reporting?
Well, as a reader of local newspapers, I often feel like the abused victim in the relationship, with local sportswriters slapping me between the eyes on a regular basis with the ‘journalism’ they put on show. Not only are we abused readers made to suffer as a result of content but construction is also daily disappointment.
Because of the time difference in England and Wales where the ICC Cricket World Cup is currently in progress, matches regularly conclude six to eight hours before the local media’s print deadlines.
You’d think that would give our local practitioners more than enough time to craft a compelling narrative about the just completed matches, right? Rubbish!
Especially as, this being the electronic media age, they know they are competing with voice and vision media that would have already delivered comprehensive news of the game, right?
When the West Indies are not playing, what we get is literally the same copy from the same news wire feeds, cut and pasted so that it makes one daily newspaper indistinguishable from the other.
Ooooooooh! My joy knows no bounds…
But, you might point out, there are locals sent specifically to report from England on this tournament, offering ‘exclusive news and features’ about the West Indies team.
What of their fare? My response?
Yesterday’s Sunday Express, for instance, carried a back page article about Nicholas Pooran and his intention to be seen as more than just a T20 player. As evidence of this, the author outlines Pooran’s performance in the last match against England where, he says, “on a tricky Southampton pitch, he made a composed 63 against the hosts, putting on 89 for the fourth wicket with Shimron Hetmeyer…”.
The first thing is that Shimron Hetmyer—with ONE E!—first played for the West Indies five years ago when he was part of the regional team at the 2014 ICC Under-19 World Cup in the UAE.
I think it is only fair to expect a cricket reporter to know how to spell his name. But maybe that is just me…
Secondly, given that the pair came together with West Indies precariously placed at 55 for 3, the praise for Pooran in this situation is entirely justified.
But the author’s next paragraph says this: “Both eventually fell cheaply and West Indies subsequently collapsed to 212 all out…”
Does that, dear reader, make any sense to you, any sense at all? I couldn’t read past that paragraph so hung up was I on that stark contradiction.
For me, a batsman who falls cheaply is a batsman from whom a great score is expected but who gets out for a single-digit or low double-digit score.
How on earth does a batsman fall “cheaply” for a “composed 63”?
I think what the writer was trying to say is that, despite the pair having rebuilt the innings, they both eventually got out to injudicious shots. The dismissals meant that the last six wickets fell even more cheaply than the first three—for just 68 runs.
I wish he had said so.
I fear that I belong to that small minority of readers for whom these careless and other errors come over as abuse of the reader. I fear too that, by continuing to read these articles (and wishing/hoping for improvement in them), I’m going to find myself waiting for Godot.
Or that I shall be like Sisyphus, forever watching the boulder I pushed up to the top of the slope roll back down the incline despite all my efforts to get it all the way up to the top.
Sometimes I allow myself to think that, somewhere out there, there is a halfway house to which I can retire to permit the eternal sunshine of my spotless mind to drive away the storm clouds forming on its skyline while, like Sam Cooke, I wonder if ever a change is gonna come.
And often the next day’s sports pages completely disabuse me of that notion…