It’s been a long, too long time since I asked you for questions, but now that summer is really over and the NHL lockout is REALLY on here we go again.
I’ve edited down the questions, and Damien provided some great answers so I will break this down into 2 posts. The second one will run tomorrow.
Sorry for the delay, I think you will agree the wait was worth it.
Question: All the Toronto teams appear to be stuck in missing playoff mode. Do you think there is a common problem with our teams, is it possible to win in this market?
Damien “OF COURSE IT’S POSSIBLE TO WIN. THERE’S NOTHING ABOUT THIS MARKET THAT MAKES IT IMPOSSIBLE FOR A PRO TEAM TO HAVE SUCCESS, AND MANY REASONS WHY SUCCESS IS POSSIBLE. ITS HARD TO SAY IF THERE’S A COMMON PROBLEM SINCE THE CHALLENGES OF EACH SPORT ARE DIFFERENT. OWNERSHIP HAS BEEN A CONSISTENT ISSUE FOR THE LEAFS, RAPTORS, JAYS AND ARGOS, AND AS AN OFFSHOOT OF THAT, AN INABILITY OR UNWILLINGNESS BY ANY OF THESE TEAMS TO COMMIT FOR THE LONG-TERM TO A BUILDING PLAN WITH THE SAME EXECUTIVES AND COACHES IN PLACE. THE MORE LOSING THAT GOES ON IN TORONTO, THE LESS TIME GMS AND COACHES SEEM TO BE GIVEN TO PROVE THEY CAN DO ANY BETTER.”
Question: If you could cover any sporting event or interview any athlete from history, which one would it be?
Damien “JESSE OWENS, 1936 OLYMPICS, BERLIN. OR ROBERTO CLEMENTE.”
Question:Has an athlete ever verbally or physically assaulted you, or threatened to do so?
Damien “YES. NONE HAVE YET FOLLOWED THROUGH ON THEIR THREAT.”
Question:Ron Wilson seemed to enjoy antagonizing the media. Is that a fair statement? If so, how does it change your approach (if at all) as someone who covers the team?
Damien I DON’T THINK WILSON ENJOYED ANTAGONIZING THE MEDIA AS MUCH AS WHAT HE THOUGHT WAS PLAYFUL BANTER SEEMED TO OTHERS TO BE MEAN, SARCASTIC AND DEMEANING. THE MORE THE TEAM LOST, THE MORE SARCASTIC HE GOT, AND HE SEEMED FRUSTRATED THAT HIS PREVIOUS SUCCESS DIDN’T BUY HIM A GREATER DEGREE OF LATITUDE. LIKE A LOT OF ACCOMPLISHED COACHES, HE TOOK ANY QUESTION AS A CHALLENGE. BY THE END, THE ONLY CHANGE IN MY APPROACH WAS THAT I RARELY INTERVIEWED HIM. IT WAS USUALLY A COMPLETE WASTE OF TIME.”
Question: Damien Goddard was (seemingly) fired for Tweeting his personal opinion on a company affiliated Twitter account. If he had tweeted a personal opinion about a political candidate or a lenient sentencing decision it is unlikely he would have been fired. Setting aside your own personal views about this case, was this a fair decision? Should employers hold Twitter comments to such exacting standards?
Damien “AS FAR AS GODDARD, I BELIEVE HIS DISMISSAL HAD TO DO WITH MORE THAN THE TWITTER INCIDENT. BUT I’M REALLY NOT FAMILIAR WITH ALL THE DETAILS. AS FAR AS EMPLOYER CONTROL OVER TWITTER, ITS A REALLY TRICKY AREA. THE STAR ASKED ME TO BE ON TWITTER, SO IN MY MIND WHAT I WRITE FALLS WITHIN THE PAPER’S JURISDICTION, PARTICULARLY IF I DESIRE TO HAVE THEIR LEGAL BACKING (PRETTY SURE I’M THE ONLY SPORTS JOURNALIST IN CANADA TO BE SERVED A LIBEL NOTICE OVER SOMETHING WRITTEN ON TWITTER).”
Question: On the subject of Twitter, your Twitter account includes a reference to your Star blog. Do you regard that account as representing the Star, or is it a personal account?
Damien “I GUESS I THINK IT’S BOTH. WHICH PROBABLY ISN’T MUCH OF AN ANSWER. AS BEST I CAN, I TRY NOT TO WRITE ANYTHING ON TWITTER THAT I WOULDN’T WRITE IN MY NEWSPAPER COLUMN/BLOG OR WOULDN’T SAY ON TV OR RADIO. YOU’LL NEVER FIND PROFANITY OR OFF-COLOUR JOKES, AND I BLOCK THOSE WHO TWEET THOSE TO MY ACCOUNT.”
Question: Your writing appears in columns, on your blog, and on Twitter. How do you decide what goes where? Do you hold yourself to different journalistic standards depending on where something is being published?
Damien “I GUESS I’M EXTREMELY LUCKY TO HAVE SO MANY OUTLETS FOR MY IDEAS AND OPINIONS. AT THE SAME TIME, SOMETIMES ITS DIFFICULT TO “FEED THE BEAST” FOR ALL. I’M NOT SURE I HOLD MYSELF TO DIFFERENT JOURNALISTIC STANDARDS AS MUCH AS I BELIEVE DIFFERENT STYLES WORK BEST IN DIFFERENT FORMATS. TWITTER IS OBVIOUSLY LIMITED BY 140 CHARACTERS. BLOGS TO ME ARE MORE INFORMAL, MORE CONVERSATIONAL. I WOULD RARELY, FOR EXAMPLE, USE THE WORLD “I” IN A COLUMN, BUT I DO IT ALL THE TIME IN BLOGS. COLUMN IS THE MORE FORMAL STYLE, USUALLY THE LAYING OUT OF A DETAILED ARGUMENT ON A SPECIFIC SUBJECT. BUT TO ME, THE STANDARDS THAT APPLY TO COLUMNS APPLY TO ALL.”
Question: If you could write the Jose Bautista steroids story over again, would you do anything differently?
Damien “NO. I THINK THE SUBSEQUENT STEROID RELATED BUSTS OF RYAN BRAUN, MELKY CABRERA, BARTOLO COLON ETC WOULD SUGGEST THAT WHAT I WROTE WAS BANG ON. THAT SOME HAVE WISHED FOR THEIR OWN PURPOSES TO TWIST THAT COLUMN FROM BLAMING BASEBALL FOR INDIRECTLY MAKING EVERY GREAT PLAYER SUSPECT OF USING PEDS INTO ACCUSING JOSE BAUTISTA OF USING STEROIDS IS BEYOND MY CONTROL. I THINK THE FACT THAT WHEN ASKED, BAUTISTA SAID “I CAN UNDERSTAND WHY THAT WOULD BE WRITTEN,” SUGGESTS HE UNDERSTOOD THE PREDICAMENT THAT BASEBALL’S DRUG PAST HAD PUT HIM IN. FINALLY, AS A GENERAL RULE, I DON’T SPEND MUCH TIME DEFENDING THINGS I’VE WRITTEN. I WRITE THEM, AND WHAT PEOPLE THINK OF THEM OR HOW THEY INTERPRET THEM IS SOMETHING I CAN’T CONTROL.”
Question: It’s been almost a generation since female sports reporters were first let into male locker rooms, yet many female sports writers are still widely dismissed, held to higher standards than their male counterparts, or relegated to the “eye candy” category. Do you believe that equality is possible for women in sports media?
Damien “YES. I WOULD CITE MARY ORMSBY AND VICKI HALL AS TWO WOMEN WHO HAVE TERRIFIC JOURNALISTIC REPUTATIONS. BUT I THINK ITS TOUGH TO BE A FEMALE COVERING MALE DOMINATED SPORTS, AND THAT’S NOT GOING TO CHANGE. THAT’S WHY ONLY THE BEST, LIKE MARY, SURVIVE. I THINK WE NEED MORE SERIOUS WOMEN WRITING SPORTS AND FEWER DOING SIDELINE REPORTS OR READING THE HIGHLIGHTS. BUT I’VE THOUGHT THAT FOR A LONG TIME AND THERE SEEM TO BE NO MORE WOMEN ATTRACTED TO THE SPORTSWRITING FIELD.”
Question: A site like this one exists because listeners, viewers, and readers have strong opinions about sports media. “Fire Joe Morgan” was a hugely popular blog devoted to criticizing bad announcing. At the same time, credible media critics have nearly disappeared from the main daily newspapers. How do you see the role of media criticism in today’s sports world? Does it still have value? Have you personally benefited at all from such criticism or is it largely irrelevant from your perspective?
Damien “I DO THINK MEDIA CRITICISM HAS ITS PLACE, ALTHOUGH FOR THE MOST PART, I THINK THOSE WHO ARE IN THE BUSINESS ARE THE ONES FASCINATED BY IT, AS OPPOSED TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC. PEOPLE HAVE SAID NICE THINGS ABOUT ME, PEOPLE HAVE SAID NASTY THINGS ABOUT ME. I’VE BEEN DOING THIS LONG ENOUGH TO KNOW THAT PEOPLE HAVE THEIR PERSONAL TASTES, JUST AS I DO, AND THAT IT WAS USUALLY IS REFLECTED IN MEDIA COLUMNS, WHICH IS FAIR. UNFORTUNATELY, IN MY OPINION, THERE’S NOT ENOUGH DONE ABOUT THE MECHANICS OF MODERN MEDIA, HOW ROLES ARE PERFORMED, HOW SHOWS AND NEWSPAPER SERIES AND MAGAZINE EXPOSES COME TOGETHER. THERE ALSO LIMITED NUMBER CRUNCHING ABOUT THE COMPETITION IN THE MARKET. I THINK THERE’S TONS OF ROOM FOR GOOD STUFF TO BE DONE IN THIS AREA, BUT MAINSTREAM MEDIA OUTLETS SEEM TO HAVE LOST THEIR APPETITE.”
Question: You appear to be a big fan of tennis but not golf, whenever a lesser known tennis player wins a grand slam (the most recent example is Sam Stosur) you can’t say enough good things about it., however, when a lesser know golfer wins a major you are quick to dismiss it and say it’s not much of an accomplishment, why do you feel that way?
Damien “WHEN STOSUR WON THE 2011 U.S. OPEN, SHE WAS RANKED NO. 6 IN THE WORLD AND HAD ALREADY BEEN A GRAND SLAM FINALIST AT THE ’09 FRENCH OPEN. SHE WAS, AT THE TIME, A MICKELSON-LIKE BEST PLAYER TO NOT HAVE WON A MAJOR. THAT’S HARDLY THE SAME THING AS SOME OF THE NOBODIES WHO HAVE WON MAJORS IN GOLF IN RECENT YEARS AND THEN NEVER BEEN HEARD FROM AGAIN. THAT SAID, I’VE WRITTEN REPEATEDLY ABOUT THE WEAKNESSES OF THE WOMEN’S TOUR IN RECENT YEARS, PARTICULARLY THE LACK OF TRUE QUALITY OF SOME OF THE PLAYERS (CAROLINE WOZNIACKI, DINARA SAFINA) WHO HAVE MANAGED TO GET TO NO. 1 IN THE WORLD WITHOUT HAVING WON A GRAND SLAM TITLE.”
Question: Is it really true that Gord Stellick defeated you in tennis in Los Angeles when you guys were covering the Leafs in the early 1990’s?
Damien “I’VE CHALLENGED HIM TO PRODUCE THE VIDEO EVIDENCE. AND IF SUCH AN EVENT ACTUALLY DID HAPPEN, AND I’M NOT SAYING IT DID, I’VE MORE THAN MADE UP FOR SUCH A HUMILIATION IN SUBSEQUENT ENCOUNTERS:)”
Question: You seem to garner a lot of attention (both negative and positive) for you articles, statements on twitter and opinions voiced on the radio. how do you deal with the criticism and is there anything you’ve written/said that you have regretted??
Damien “I THINK THERE ARE COUNTLESS TIMES I WISHED I HAD WRITTEN BETTER, OR COMMUNICATED AN IDEA MORE CLEARLY OR EFFECTIVELY. I DON’T SEE MYSELF AS NECESSARILY A VERY GOOD WRITER, SO I OFTEN REGRET BEING UNABLE TO WRITE AS WELL AS SOME OF THE GREATS UNDER WHOM I LEARNED THE CRAFT, MEN LIKE MILT DUNNELL AND JIM PROUDFOOT. THERE HAVE BEEN TIMES WHERE I’VE BEEN TOO HARSH ON SOME PEOPLE IN SPORT, AND TIMES WHERE I LET ANGER GUIDE THE WRITING/COMMENTARY MORE THAN A GOOD, SOLID INTELLECTUAL ARGUMENT. AS FAR AS DEALING WITH CRITICISM, ITS PART OF THE BUSINESS. IF I DISH IT OUT, I HAVE TO BE ABLE TO TAKE IT. YOU’D LOVE EVERYONE TO APPLAUD WILDLY WITH EVERY COLUMN YOU WRITE OR EVERY PIECE OF RADIO OR TV COMMENTARY, BUT THAT’S JUST NEVER GOING TO BE THE CASE. FOR THE MOST PART, THE THINGS I SAY OR WRITE ARE JUST HOW I SEE THEM, AND I CERTAINLY UNDERSTAND THAT OTHERS MAY SEE THEM VERY DIFFERENTLY. MY FAVOURITE EMAILS ARE THE ONES THAT START WITH “I USUALLY DON’T AGREE WITH YOU BUT”, WHICH TO ME MEANS THAT I’M CHALLENGING READERS/VIEWERS/LISTENERS WITH DIFFERENT IDEAS OR VIEWPOINTS AND THEY’RE AGREEING SOMETIMES AND DISAGREEING SOMETIMES. AS A GENERAL RULE, I’M NOT TRYING TO WRITE OR PROVIDE COMMENTARY FOR OTHERS TO AGREE WITH; IF THEY DO, GREAT, IF THEY DON’T, WELL, LESS GREAT BUT STILL OKAY BY ME. I SURE DON’T GET PAID BY THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE I CAN GET TO AGREE WITH ME. TOO MANY PEOPLE IN THIS BUSINESS SEEM TO THINK ITS A POPULARITY CONTEST, OR OPINE BASED ON WHAT THEY BELIEVE IS A POPULARLY-HELD POINT OF VIEW. I HAVEN’T THE LEAST INTEREST IN BEING POPULAR.”
Stay tuned for part 2 tomorrow.