“I’m not sure I have a need for beat writers from ESPN.com, Yahoo, or any website for that matter to ever be in our locker room before or after a game,” complained Mavericks owner/defender of higher discourse Mark Cuban (above) earlier this week. “Do we really need to ask Dwight Howard and Deron Williams where they think they will be going in TWO YEARS ? Do we need to ask players ‘are you upset about the loss ?’ Well, yeah, if they’re the Pistons, absolutely. Hardball Talk’s Craig Calcaterra considers Cuban’s proposition that “it might just be time to change how teams communicate” and concludes, “this is about an owner of a profit-generating business, wanting to control the message, limit bad publicity and, in his exception for TV and newspaper people, push customers through the turnstiles.”
Cuban loses me when he starts going after straw men. It’s easy for us all to agree that people who simply make up rumors or act like TMZ reporters are useless, but who are they? Do they exist? Who at ESPN.com is simply inventing things from whole cloth? Who at Yahoo! is? Have any of them asked any players any “have you stopped beating your wife?” questions in the name of tabloid journalism? If they did, they’d be laughed out of the business or kicked out of the clubhouse by media relations people for acting like idiots. The working press — even the online press — is overwhelmingly professional when they enter the clubhouse, and Cuban’s demonization of them in this regard is fantasy.
Or misdirection. Because one of the more notable things about Cuban’s piece is that he exempts a large swath of reporters from his ire: TV and print newspaper journalists. Cuban is just fine with keeping these guys in the locker room. This despite the fact that these are guys who do the same thing that the Internet reporters do to annoy Cuban. The less-salacious things Cuban complains about, anyway, such as constantly asking players about the latest rumors swirling around even if they themselves didn’t invent the rumor. Asking players “how they felt out there today” questions and other such inanities.