Grant Lucas – Sports editor.
The 2009 University of Oregon football season ended as one of the most memorable in school history.
After what many called a “meltdown” at Boise State University in the first week of play, Oregon finished the season with fury in its eyes, winning the Pac-10 championship and a bid to the school’s first Rose Bowl in 15 years.
Heading into the offseason, the Ducks had high hopes and goals as they began preparation for, hopefully, a better season.
However, team rules and police officers shot down Oregon’s dream.
During January, two Ducks were accused of stealing laptops from a fraternity house, although no charges were filed. Four other players were arrested. Among them was sophomore star running back LaMichael James, who was charged with domestic violence after he allegedly grabbed his girlfriend’s neck and shoved her to the ground.
Other players found themselves amidst campus brawls. One fight left sophomore kicker Rob Beard in intensive care for two days. According to a Sports Illustrated article by Stewart Mandel, he was later cited for misdemeanor assault.
This story, however, isn’t about the arrests and team rule violations that have occurred during the last two months. This is a focus on a situation involving sophomore wideout Jamere Holland.
We’ve entered into an age where Twitter and Facebook updates have become foci of parents, bosses and, in this case, coaches.
After a teammate was arrested Feb. 20 for driving under the influence, Holland found it necessary to update his status.
In the Facebook status, according to an Associated Press story, he “mistakenly concluded” that his teammate was kicked off the team. He labeled the action “unfair and damaging” to the football team.
The AP story said the post was “expletive-filled,” which earned him a one-way ticket off the already-suffering Oregon team.
This, however, is still not the issue. My problem arises from the AP story that broke this information.
As journalists, we are expected to provide truthful stories. This is the meaning of our existence. I’m not calling this article untruthful, just simply stating there is a hint of misleading.
Near the top of the story is a short paragraph that bugged me:
“Holland wrote in a later post: ‘I wish I could block all whites as friends and only have blacks LOL, cause apparently I’m misunderstood.’”
Any person who reads this immediately judges and looks downs upon Holland. What readers may be unaware of is the actual post.
On the status in question, Holland provided a clause:
“What else can I put on my status to f— with my readers’ heads: I wish I could block all whites as friends and only have blacks LOL, cause apparently I’m misunderstood.”
Now, I’m not necessarily defending Holland, but I am requesting all of the information.
This post came after Holland found himself in trouble. Maybe his page was already being investigated. Perhaps he was poking fun at those who took statuses too seriously.
The best part about this AP story? That short paragraph had little significance to the story but had a dynamic impact on the readers.
The moral of the story is aimed at journalists or writers-to-be: Don’t try to juice up a story any more than it needs to be because colleagues such as myself will catch the extra nonsense and exploit it.