I did go to college, surprisingly, but I didn’t go for sports journalism or journalism at all. Instead, I decided to Google “What are the two lowest-paying majors” and armed with that knowledge I graduated with a BA in Political Science and Sociology of Law/Criminology/Deviance. While I am mostly joking, as my plan was to take a “year” off and then go to law school, my point is that I didn’t learn the Do’s and Don’t the way a lot of my peers did.
So, how was I lucky?
Well, in 2016 I started working with Joe Oberle over at VikingsJournal.com. Joe is the perfect example of sports journalism done with class, sports journalism done the right way.
I was raw, or rawer than I still am, so Joe taught me A LOT about how to write sports articles (apparently he that advice was “Write about nothing but Kirk Cousins and make sure you reach 5,000 words each article!”). More important than the nuts and bolts of what makes a good article, Joe instilled the pride of doing things the right way in every way. That means that when I’ve had team access I do things the right way.
While I learned a lot about things to do, there are also a few things I learned not to do when covering the team online and in person. Online? There are a few but the most important are: Do not talk about player’s personal lives, Do not call for people’s jobs unless it’s absolutely necessary (as opposed to doing it just for clicks), and finally to essentially convey how much I and we love this team, even if we disagree about what that means in practice.
I’ve never had a press pass but Oberle has had one up until the team put a temporary but much-needed moratorium on press passes for anyone not in traditional media. From what Joe has told me, the team has rules of its own. If you’re in the press box? No cheering/reacting to plays. If you’re in the locker room or anywhere, don’t ask players for autographs or selfies. It seems like common sense but apparently not everyone had an Oberle to guide them; like Luke on Degobah.
How do I know that if I haven’t actually been around the team outside of the press passes we’ve had for training camp?
Because as has been put on blast by Rudolph via Twitter, a still-unnamed member of that traditional media not only asked Vikings tight end, Kyle Rudolph, for the gloves he wore to catch the game-winning ball against the Saints, he asked for them to be autographed. Now, there may have been a loophole involved as the media member did say that the gloves were for a charity and the players on the Vikes are often asked to donate this or that for charity.
So, nothing to see here, right?
Well, I know you know where this is going because you’ve read the headline. That still-unnamed media member was lying about the charity as someone ended up seeing those same gloves for sale on eBay today (at least they waited THREE whole days?). Not only that, he only sold them for $375.
That means that (s)he was willing to risk his career, forever, for under $400, or that that person thought that they were a charity themselves?
Now, we still don’t know who that media member was and I can hear Oberle on my shoulder (or should I say, on my back?) saying that we shouldn’t expose that person. I actually agree although I am covering this story. It’s news and public because a Vikings player is involved and because it was announced publicly. But, I’m sure the person that did this is pretty desperate if they were willing to risk their career, essentially forever, for a measly $400.
Sure, they could’ve thought the gloves would fetch like $10,000 considering how important that play was, but either way someone who is doing well financially (or in general) wouldn’t do that. Even if it was greed there’s something off there and while that doesn’t make what they did okay, it means that perhaps we should have some empathy for why people do things we (rightfully) deem as awful.
While, yeah, we should point out bad behavior and hold people accountable, I feel like naming the media person would just be piling on as this person is going to be held accountable in ways that’ll drastically change their lives forever and that’s punishment enough (without the world also knowing what they did). I want no part in that. There also may be legal consequences as this technically constitutes fraud if I remember my pre-law classes (spoiler alert, I mostly don’t).
Sounds like I’m asking to have it both ways, but this is newsworthy and needs to be covered.
There’s actually a pretty amazing end to this story, though, as the man who ended up winning the eBay auction contacted Rudolph on Twitter and offered to…
Well, I’ll just show you…
Every time someone does something awful, someone steps up to show you that there are more good people than bad in this world, it’s just that if you’re good no one notices as you’re not deviating from is considered acceptable or good.
Now that those gloves have this story attached to them, I’m sure they’ll fetch more than $375 in the auction that Children’s Hospital – Minnesota has for them, too. We know we’ll be trying to get our meat hooks on them…
So we can sell them on eBay.