FanDuel - WFBC

September 09, 2009

How Not to Write a Sports Column: Everybody has bad ideas. The trick is to forget them before you publish them in a newspaper.

posted by yerfatma to culture at 04:06 PM - 47 comments

Wow, what a disgusting column. Some things just aren't meant to be made fun of. How could this get past an editor? On a side note, if you remove all the comments about Jaycee, the look at the past 18 years of sports is actually mildly entertaining.

posted by BradBehleISU at 04:50 PM on September 09

She was not allowed to spike a volleyball. Or pitch a softball. Or smack a forehand down the line. Or run in a 5-footer for double bogey.

Now, that's deprivation.

*buries face in hands*

posted by Skot at 04:51 PM on September 09

Nauseating.

As if the entire premise wasn't excruciatingly insensitive already, Mark Whicker ends with a light-hearted play on words about her years in captivity at the hands of a sexual predator. How is that column still online 48 hours later?

What the hell was he thinking?

posted by rcade at 04:52 PM on September 09

You have to admit it's almost awesome in it's wrongness. I found it in a tweet from a Boston Globe writer who's shocked because he thinks the author is normally a good sportswriter.

posted by yerfatma at 05:00 PM on September 09

Are you freaking kidding me? I remember when he wrote in Philadelphia before he moved to the OCR, but I don't think he did anything this obscene!

posted by jjzucal at 05:01 PM on September 09

Unsurprisingly, he's getting absolutely torched in the comments.

posted by Skot at 05:09 PM on September 09

I agree with the first commenter that the guts of the column was actually fairly amusing, but the theme used to tie it together was at the very least inappropriate.

It does remind me of a great Gene Wilder quote, though: "It's hard to explain bad taste to someone who has it."

posted by TheQatarian at 05:49 PM on September 09

disgusting

posted by bdaddy at 06:02 PM on September 09

Terrible taste.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 06:11 PM on September 09

Brutal .

posted by tommytrump at 06:17 PM on September 09

I saw it too, rcade. In case nobody else could make it that far (and who could blame you):

Congratulations, Jaycee. You left the yard.

Quite possibly the worst thing I have read. How does someone approve this for publishing or posting?

posted by THX-1138 at 06:32 PM on September 09

I am trying to conjure up the words to describe the degree of contempt I have for this hack, but my limited grasp of English is preventing me.

what rcade said. double.

posted by irunfromclones at 06:39 PM on September 09

Wow. That is awful journalism and taste.

posted by soocher at 07:09 PM on September 09

What a travesty. I mean, how could he have forgotten the Buccaneers winning a Super Bowl?

Kidding aside, how absolutely awful.

posted by holden at 07:21 PM on September 09

I don't know that I've ever encountered light-hearted shock humor before. As truly appalling as this column is, he may have invented an entirely new literary genre.

posted by Joey Michaels at 07:24 PM on September 09

The sports-based part of the article was okay. Even the idea of presenting this information to someone who's been away makes sense. But to use an actual event such as he did is disgusting and distasteful, to say the least.

posted by BoKnows at 10:53 PM on September 09

Wow. Just an astonishing bad choice. Way to not have your finger on the pulse.

Also - would have helped if it was funny.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 11:02 PM on September 09

What makes it so shocking to me is that he was really only a few sentences away from writing what I think he intended to write.

The premise of his article is fine...what would a person have missed in the past 18 years...he just shouldn't have gone with the direct connection to Jaycee. A sentence, or two, talking about how horrible her situation was, with a segue into what a person would have missed sports-wise during that time.

And, without question, leaving out the "You left the yard" line. No defense for that on any level.

posted by dviking at 11:14 PM on September 09

Dviking, I agree with you. I think he was going for that with his introduction about how she never got to run in a 5-foot double bogey put or smash a forehand down the line. The guy trivialized the horror that cannot be imagined, that is this woman's life. I even tried to read his appology but couldn't get very far. This guy crossed a line and the fact that his editor allowed this vomit to be published is unforgivable in journalism! The reporter should be severly punished by the publication. The editor, probably should be fired.

posted by Vikesfanh8sfavre at 11:46 PM on September 09

There's another truly offensive quip in the column: "Dugard's stepfather says she's going to need a lot of therapy -- you think? -- so perhaps she should take a respite before confronting the new realities."

The idea she's going to need a lot of therapy rates a sarcastic "you think?"? Boggles the mind.

This column is so bad I wish reporters would get to the bottom of how it was conceived and prepared for publication, and identify every Register staffer who reviewed it. It reads like something an editor would pass along by a columnist he hated, hoping it would get him canned.

posted by rcade at 12:27 AM on September 10

Wow. Just wow. Jackass.

not you rcade

posted by tahoemoj at 01:05 AM on September 10

Whicker's apology.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 01:26 AM on September 10

you mean they weren't letting her watch sports on t.v?...especially when she was in labor delivering her two children...THAT'S deprivation...

posted by wildbill1 at 07:19 AM on September 10

What a travesty. I mean, how could he have forgotten the Buccaneers winning a Super Bowl?

See, these kinds of comments are what turns my stomach. Com'on man! What is wrong with you? How could you forget about the dominance that my Cowboys displayed in the 90's? We ran that decade.

His column was in bad taste but the concept was interesting. There was no reason to bring the Jaycee topic the way he did. Does anyone know if he's going to be reprimanded in any way?

posted by BornIcon at 10:02 AM on September 10

Why haven't they taken the column down after even the writer admitted it was terrible?

posted by bperk at 10:11 AM on September 10

Keith Olbermann had Whicker and the editors as his No. 2 worse persons in the world last night.

posted by jjzucal at 10:23 AM on September 10

His apology is off base too. It's like he's sorry that people are upset with him but he still doesn't get that it was in utterly poor taste. Interesting to see how some people's logic circuits just fail to spark. It does give validity to The Qatarian's Gene Wilder quote.

posted by THX-1138 at 10:57 AM on September 10

I really admire the OCR's three guidelines for reader comments:

Comments are encouraged, but you must follow our User Agreement.
1. Keep it civil and stay on topic.
2. No profanity, vulgarity, racial slurs or personal attacks.
3. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked.

emphasis mine

posted by MrFrisby at 11:37 AM on September 10

Keith Olbermann had Whicker and the editors as his No. 2 worse persons in the world last night.

Yeah, hyperbole really makes Keith mad.

posted by yerfatma at 11:54 AM on September 10

I wasn't impressed with the apology either, it seemed as if he was apologizing for causing outrage amongst his readers rather than apologizing for what he wrote in the column.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 12:05 PM on September 10

Keith Olbermann had Whicker and the editors as his No. 2 worse persons in the world last night.

So who was No. 1?

posted by BornIcon at 12:06 PM on September 10

Yes, the " sorry if I offended anyone" apologies are the worst.


So who was No. 1?
obviously, a Republican

posted by dviking at 01:08 PM on September 10

There's no "if I offended anyone" in Whicker's apology -- just several different statements about how he screwed up. I think it's a fine example of contrition.

posted by rcade at 01:30 PM on September 10

I take that back. An interview with Whicker by a media site shows that he's not really apologetic at all, because he doesn't think he did anything wrong. He blames the "speed and the enormity of the Internet" for the reaction it drew.

That link also includes a statement by Assistant Sports Editor Todd Harmonson blaming "someone else" for editing the column but not naming them. That's some nice CYA.

posted by rcade at 01:37 PM on September 10

The real news there is he wrote the same damn column about Terry Anderson in 1991. That is hack-tastic.

posted by yerfatma at 01:42 PM on September 10

Yes, the "sorry if I offended anyone" apologies are the worst

It's the "if" in the lame apology that usually does it for me. Take out the "if" and add "that" instead and it just might sound like an actual apology ("sorry THAT I offended anyone")....oh that's right, the fucker didn't even apologize.

posted by BornIcon at 02:10 PM on September 10

So who was No. 1?

obviously, a Republican

You are correct. Olbermann selected Joe Wilson as "The Worst Person In The World". Olbermann sure looks fat. Has nothing to do with anything. Just an observation.

posted by THX-1138 at 02:28 PM on September 10

Olbermann sure looks fat. Has nothing to do with anything. Just an observation.

Leave K.O. alone! You do realize that the man has a huge ego to feed.

posted by BornIcon at 02:31 PM on September 10

The real news there is he wrote the same damn column about Terry Anderson in 1991. That is hack-tastic.

If he really wanted to use this conceit (again), couldn't he have waited until someone came out of a long coma?

posted by holden at 02:31 PM on September 10

Leave K.O. alone! You do realize that the man has a huge ego to feed.

Yes, but he should switch to vegetables and skip the cheesburgeys and pie.

posted by THX-1138 at 02:37 PM on September 10

Depends on the pie.

posted by BornIcon at 02:47 PM on September 10

The real victim here is Mark Whicker, who got screwed out of a vacation day in 2024 when Terry Schiavo would have woken up.

posted by yerfatma at 03:00 PM on September 10

It took me a while to get my lower jaw off the keyboard. Mark Whicker is not exactly some dumb jerk trying to make a reputation while writing for the local free weekly advertising rag. All I can say is that like any true reporter, he must have had a losing battle with the tequila bottle before committing this thing to print. I read his apology. It's more like he is saying, "I've been a good boy for a long time. Can't I get a pass for screwing up just once?" It's not an apology at all. If I'm the Sports Editor or the Managing Editor at the OC Register, everything that Mark Whicker writes from now on has to cross my desk.

posted by Howard_T at 03:12 PM on September 10

Not to flog the expired equine needlessly, but as a friend of mine once said about a musician whose only form of soloistic expression was to play a zillion notes a minute:

"All that dude's taste is in his mouth."

I find that this is fitting in regard to Mr. Whicker.

posted by THX-1138 at 03:41 PM on September 10

Not to flog the expired equine needlessly, but as a friend of mine once said about a musician whose only form of soloistic expression was to play a zillion notes a minute:

"All that dude's taste is in his mouth."

Please tell me he was talking about Yngvie Malmsteen

posted by cjets at 04:44 PM on September 10

I can't remember the last apology that that drew as much or more criticism as the original comment.

posted by irunfromclones at 12:47 AM on September 11

He blames the "speed and the enormity of the Internet" for the reaction it drew.

I blame his desire to phone in a column over the holiday weekend. Or, if you like, the 2009 calendar for making Labor Day so late.

posted by etagloh at 01:30 AM on September 15

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