Crime and medicine: Duo subjects for budding sports journalists

The role of a sports writer has seemed to widen each year. The media, and I would say rightly so, has reported in recent years on criminal escapades of athletes at all levels. Depending on how forthcoming the sports media are about developing stories on “student-athlete-criminals” the consumers of said media may be delivered crime stories ranging from jocks at the junior high to professional levels.

As is the case with most crime stories a person need not be arrested, tried or convicted  to have one’s name end up on the pages or on television in relation to some criminal misdeed. And if one is a prominent athlete, or just an athlete in some cases, or a celebrity a conviction is not always needed to rate coverage. Take the example today of Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson. Jackson has been shopped as of late by Philly front-office types. Reasons range from work ethic, or lack thereof, to temperament. The latest rap is that Jackson allegedly has ties with gang members. One such alleged gangsta, a rapper named “T-Ron,” has supposed connections to the notorious L.A. “Crips” gang. Such thin allegations involving Jackson says little as for his involvement, innocence or guilt. What does give rise to suspicions is that the Eagles have so intensely shopped Jackson who came off the previous season with big numbers and a big salary to boot.

Writing about such allegations takes no specific training as a journalist or sports writer. Perhaps these scribes would study their libel courses very well before engaging in publishing stories heavy with accusations and light on facts. To do hard-nose reporting on criminal escapades committed by a ball player and his friends requires a bit of training, if only OJT.

A second type of specialty reporting in sports news falls into the field of medicine. I thought of this having heard earlier on the radio that Houston Rockets guard Patrick Beverley was supposedly diagnosed with a torn meniscus in his right knee after an injury during the Rockets-76-ers game last night. Always sunny in Philadelphia, huh?

Deeper reading will probably find some journalist with a knowledge about such an injury, what it means, and how surgery might impact Beverley and his team on the Rocket’s path to the playoffs. I first heard this story earlier in the afternoon on Houston ESPN 97.5 “The Blitz” program. Hosts Dave Tepper and Houston Chronicle columnist Jerome Solomon ran down the Beverley story and how it could result in Jeremy Lin starting in place of the injured Rocket. These radio hosts made an interesting observation that former Knicks phenom Lin has as his strength these days playing from the bench. Whether this means  Lin can step up, of course, is a good question. Where Tepper and Solomon could have used help is in having someone with even the slightest bit of medical knowledge concerning the injury suffered by Beverley.

I know I could provide a little information about that injury. As a result of a medial and lateral tear of the meniscus cartilage, I have been ordered by my doctor to stand no more than 2 hours per day. This has gone on for a bit more than a month and a half due to a reexamination into my worker’s compensation case. I just learned today that surgery for my torn meniscus has been authorized so there is the possibility I might have an arthroscopic meniscus repair sometime next week. I have been and am ready to get it over with and hope it will help. Perhaps I can become an expert on such injuries. At least I might have more knowledge than I was given today on the radio. That isn’t slamming Tepper or Solomon. Such journalist or commentators aren’t expected to be lawyers nor doctors. They just need to know where to find one. And that’s my point.

If one has a dream of becoming a sports reporter, then legal and medical issues are the types of subjects which sports journalists are expected to encounter these days. My piece of advice is, if such subjects aren’t approached at some point in the first couple of years in J school, then I would suggest you find courses into which one may learn these issues. Basic criminal justice of the kind reporters require should be taught in news writing intro courses. If not, then sign up for an actual criminal justice class. You will likely find in those classes some would-be cops or actual LEOs who might add to your knowledge, that, in addition to what one learns in class. Medical classes are something of which I am not so sure. I learned my medical knowledge through EMT training in which I was certified for 10 years. I also dated a couple of nurses. (Pause.)

At the very least, talk to an adviser in your school’s nursing program. No telling what you might find there. Anything is better than nada, someone — I think Doug Sahm — once said.