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Do coaches have duty to talk to media?

TULLY TALK

Something happened to me at a game last week that got me thinking.

While covering a contest between two local teams, I was greeted by

a coach who wasn’t in the mood to talk after his squad lost a close

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game.

I walked toward the coach so I could get his comments about the

game -- something that’s standard practice for almost all

sportswriters. However, as I approached, the coach shouted at me -- I

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thought rather rudely -- that he had nothing to say.

Wanting to give the coach the opportunity to explain why he didn’t

want to talk, I made my way to him for an explanation. Either upset

at the outcome of the game, or maybe peeved by something else, the

coach reiterated his stand, raised his voice, waived his hands and

added a few other comments.

After trying to tell the coach I just wanted to let him praise his

team and give a few well-deserved comments for his players who had

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played well, he told me because I saw everything that happed in the

game, I should write about it myself.

In more than 11 years working for Leader, I estimate I have

covered probably a few thousand contests. This is the first time I

can remember a coach refusing to talk to me after a game.

A little miffed with the treatment, as I turned and walked away, I

said a little something under my breath about the coach lacking class

in dealing with the situation.

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That really seemed to set the him off.

He proceeded to yell at me and tell me exactly what he thought

about my comment.

Maybe I should have kept the comment to myself. But then again,

maybe the coach should have had the courtesy to give me even the

smallest amount of his time after the game.

*

The scenario brings up a valid point: do high school coaches have

an obligation to talk to the media after a game -- or at all?

Unlike the professional ranks, where coaches and players are

required to talk to the media, and college sports, where coaches have

to make themselves available, no such hard-and-fast rule exists for

high schools.

Although it isn’t necessarily in their job description to have to

talk to reporters, coaches have an obligation to promote their

program, school and athletes, and that’s where the media comes in.

A coach has to do more than roll out the balls and conduct

practices. Good coaches have to be part patent, part salesperson,

part promoter and part friend for their players. Although some

coaches might not like to deal with reporters, the good ones realize

it is part of their job to do so.

With all the work they do -- no one’s denying coaching is one of

the most difficult professions -- it’s not too much to ask for them

to say a few words after games, or call in their scores and other

information.

Some coaches realize they can use the media to their advantage.

Those individuals know high school sports are about the children, and

getting a player’s name or photo in the paper is something special

for the athletes.

These same coaches value the opportunity of having a local paper

in their city that covers their players and teams. Ask athletes who

live in North Hollywood, or Sun Valley or Sherman Oaks -- communities

without local papers -- how often they get their names and stories

about their teams in the newspaper.

Not much, unless they are top performers.

However, on the flip side, there are the coaches who see the

journalists as evil, and people to be avoided. Some of these men and

women think it’s a chore to deal with reporters. As a result, they

sell their athletes short by their own personal biases and distorted

views.

These are the coaches who never call in their scores and could

care less if we cover any of their games all season.

Some of these individuals should take a lesson from Burroughs

boys’ and girls’ golf Coach Mike Krose. When it comes to reporting

scores, Krose has it down to a science, and he takes a great deal of

time and effort in getting information to us.

Not only does Krose fax every single golf match result his teams

take part in, but he goes the extra mile by getting records and

correct spellings of his teams and players, as well as all the same

information about opposing teams.

Another coach who is great about promoting his teams is Burroughs

track and field and cross-country Coach John Peebles. After meets and

invitationals, Peoples e-mails his results and often includes the

marks of Burbank High -- and the other local schools’ -- athletes as

well.

It’s not easy for coaches like Krose and Peebles to gather and

send information on a regular basis, but I know they realize how much

it means to their athletes.

The area could use more coaches like Krose and Peebles. Not only

would it be a benefit to the athletes, local schools and the

community, but it would sure make my job a whole lot easier.

* JEFF TULLY is the sports editor of the Burbank Leader. He can be

reached at 843-8700 or by e-mail atjeff.tully@latimes.com.


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