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October 22, 1990 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 1990-10-22

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The Michigan Daily- Monday, October 22,1990- Page 11

;The nation's top sportswriter offers his


Mike Gill

views on loc
Mitch Albom has been a colum-
nist at the Detroit Free Press since
'1985.Writing in his unique,
ersonal style, he won the A.P. Best
Sports Writer award the past four
tyears. He has two books in print:
"The Live Albom," a collection of
his articles and "Bo," the
autobiography of Bo Schembechler
which he helped produce. "The
tjive Albom II" is scheduled to be
released this month. Daily sports
writer Adam Miller interviewed
lbom during a break in his WLLZ
orning radio show.
Daily: Do you think that there
should be an instant replay system
of any kind?
Albom: On the one hand, I like
it in the NFL, but in the NFL there
Is money riding on the games. You
know, guys' salaries and all the
money you get for winning playoffs
and things like that. In college, sup-
osedly anyhow, there is no money
riding on the games so that I think if
you put in instant replay, it starts to
suggest that the game is even more
important that it's being taken and I
think college sports are probably
taken too importantly as it is right
now. So, because of the impression
that it would give, that you know,
now we've got instant replay and
ings and it's so critical to win, I'd
obably say I wouldn't like to see it
although certainly in games like (the
Michigan-Michigan State game),
you wish you had one.
I especially think the idea of one
instant replay causes more problems
than it solves. What if you use that
one replay earlier in the half in that
game and then comes that critical
play in the last play, or next to last
slay in the game, and you don't have
it left? You feel like a fool for hav-
ing used it on a play that was only
in the middle of the field, you know,
people start second guessing that.
You shouldn't have used the replay.
You should have saved it. I think
that if you have it, you have it. If
you don't, you don't. I don't like the
idea of just having one.
D: I'd like to discuss the locker
*oom controversy.
A: You have to understand that
reporters' presence in the locker
room is not about interfering with
players in a private ceremony. It re-
ally has to do with timing more than
anything else. The reason reporters
got into the locker room in the first
place is because, let's take a game
where, let's say we're covering the
. etroit Lions. And they're playing
nLos Angeles, on the road. The
gme is over. They have about. 25
utinutes from the time the game is
over, let's say a half hour, from the
ine the game is over to the time
they get on the bus to go to the air-
rt to leave. Now, if you don't talk
tq them while they're getting dressed
in the locker room, you don't talk to
Ghem because they're on the bus and
hey've flown home and you've got
1 stay there and write your story.
That's how this stuff got invented.
The chance to talk with players in
the locker room because you're on
deadline, you've got to grab them
Wlile you Ean. And that's the only
place you can do it.
And for all this lofty talk about
prrciples and ideals, that's really

where all this locker room stuff be-
san. Having accepted that, and I
think that the press in the locker

Ak Ad
kerrooms and other issues

room does a lot for the players in
terms of publicity and what ulti-
mately gets them money in terms of
endorsements and contracts and
things like that, I would expect the
players would tolerate that as part of
their job and part of what comes
with those multi-million dollar con-
tracts that they talk to reporters after
a game. If anything, I think that's a
positive and a benefit of their job as
'I think that the press
in the locker room
does a lot for the
players in terms of
publicity and what ulti-
mately gets them
money in terms of
endorsements and
contracts...) would
expect the players
would tolerate that as
part of their job.'

opposed to a negative. That's where
it sprung up and as far as who be-
longs in there, we all belong in
there. Reporters belong in there.
Reporters can be men and women
and as long as you allow reporters
in, then you have to allow all re-
porters in. That means male and fe-
male reporters. That means Black,
white, Hispanic reporters. That
means young and old reporters. If
someone is qualified and credentialed,
they have to be allowed in. They
can't make distinctions between the
two. It's either all in or all out.
D: How do you see the current
controversy resolving?
A: I think it will just blow over
quite frankly. I think it's just sort of
a flavor-of-the-week controversy and
in a couple of weeks there will be
something else to worry about. I
think that the players have used this
as a chance to try to get reporters out
of the locker room period because
they don't like them in there. But I
think very few of them actually have
that strong a feeling about women
one way or the other. I think they
just saw this as an opportunity to
drive reporters out of the locker
room if they could and it's not very
hard to put on a towel or to get
dressed in a different room if you're
really, really bothered personally, or
morally, or ethically, by the pres-
ence of a woman in the locker room.
A ni I think that it will just kind of
blow over.
D: How do the reporters feel in
there? Are they at all uncomfortable?
A: Sure. I'm uncomfortable ev-
ery time I go in there. But, that's the
only chance that I get to gather in-
formation. It's not a great environ-
ment. It's an embarrassing, frustrat-
ing, crowded, hot, sweaty, uncom-
fortable environment. But if that's
the only place that you can find out
what happened on that third down
play when he thought he had the ball
and then he dropped it. I can't speak

for the guy. I'm trying to gather in-
formation so I'm accurate in my re-
ports and if I just observe something
that I see up in the press box and
don't go down and talk to the guy
and write about it and it appears in
the newspaper in front of one and
one-half million people in that state
and I got it wrong and then the guy
says to me, "Why didn't you ask me
about it? I would have told you."
Well, you know, I obviously didn't
do my job if I could have asked
about it. If they close up the locker
rooms, how am I going to ask him
about it? So, yeah, it's uncomfort-
able for both sides probably but it's
a necessary evil.
D: Just a couple of general re-
porting questions. There's a lot of
talk about bias in reporting recently.
I know you were questioned about
your bias toward Bo after you wrote
his book. I know Joe Falls just
wrote one with Chuck Daly. When
does the personal attachments of a
reporter to his subject interfere with
his objectivity?
A: I think it's an individual
question. You can't say when it
does. Sometimes people have biases
toward athletes or coaches and they
don't have to have written a book
with them. They don't have to have
done anything with them. They can
be biased one way or the other just
from personal opinion. My feeling
on the Bo book is that I had a pretty
strong opinion of Bo and knowledge
of Bo long before I ever wrote that
book. And I think if you were to go
back and look at my work before
that book on him, and my work after
that book on him, you would see
complete consistency. I never really
changed my view and never really
changed my attitude. I think that
that's the key. You have to trust
your own instincts. You also have
to take certain precautions, such as
w did not work on that book while
the season was going on so that we
would never have a day where, you
know, they played a game and then
the next day we had to do something
with the book because that could
maybe influence my actual reporting
on him at that point. You don't
want to ever risk that. When we
worked on the book, it was the off
season. I wasn't writing about
Schembechler to begin with and by
the time the season started, the book
was all done, finished, and in. There
was nothing either one of us could
do about it. So, we tried as hard as
we could to avoid any head-to-head
conflicts unlike Joe Falls who wrote
that book and talked about writing it
with Chuck Daly during the playoffs
last year. I don't know how he did
that in good conscience. He
sometimes wrote in his column that
he was working on the book that day
and there was a game the next day.
But everybody is entitled to their
own approach to it. I still think the
question is your own ethics and your
own morality and then primarily
what your newspaper feels about it.
And if my newspaper or the higher
ups in the newspaper had said to me
we don't want you to write the
book, I never would have done it.
They did not say that. They were en-

couraging and felt trusting, I guess
is the right word, that I could keep
my perspective on the guy. In fact, I
know my subject Schembechler a
hell of a lot better now and under-
stand the things he does a lot better
now than before we worked on that
thing. That's almost inevitable and I
hope that I can use that when in the
future I have to write about him in
terms of being correct about what
I'm saying. Ultimately that's what
you want to be when you're a re-
porter of any kind. You want to be
correct and I know now that I would
be a lot more correct in the things
that I said about Schembechler and I
wouldn't be afraid to criticize him.
D: One final question. What is,
in general, your approach to sports?
I talked to Bernie Smilovitz and he
said that he never takes anything that
seriously. He said that "we're not
splitting the atom here" when I
asked him about "We got high-
lights" and that kind of thing. So,
what's your view and what do you
think the healthy view toward sports
should be?
A: I agree with Bernie. We're
not splitting the atom, but I still
think it's an important walk of life
and people who read it take it seri-
ously. My operative word is per-
spective. Keep everything in its per-
spective. When something is really
big, it seems unbelievable. I still try
'I still think the
question is your own
ethics and your own
morality... If my
newspaper or the
higher ups in the
newspaper had said to
me we don't want you
to write the book, I
never would have
done it.'
to keep it in perspective that, you
know, every day there is a team
winning a championship, there's 50
people dying of hunger some place.
Let's not turn this into the biggest
thing on earth. And by the same to-
ken, when a player gets arrested for
drugs, or gambling, or something
like that, let's not act like our own
child came home and admitted that
he murdered somebody. I mean,
these are just people and they're like
any other people in American soci-
ety and some of them are good and
some of them are bad and many of
them have faults. The same faults
that happen to a lot of people when
they get money young and we
shouldn't be so shocked and dis-
mayed by this stuff. It's serious, but
not life ending anymore than drop-
ping a football in the end zone
shouldn't make a kid feel like he's
let down the whole world when
something like that happens. So,
perspective is the operative word and
I think humor is a good idea.
Does this picture look familiar?
It's Albom's column head photo,
courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.

Delany fails as leader
of prestigious Big Ten
The Big Ten is in shambles.
That's the simple truth.
And I don't mean it is messed up because Michigan is not remotely near
the top of the conference standings and certainly won't be the Big Ten's rep-
resentative in the "Granddaddy of Them All." In fact, if that was the only
problem, a cure would be much easier. Instead, the Big Ten suffers from
faulty leadership, a lack of direction, and a general chaos surrounds its peo-
ple and representatives.
Let's start with Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany. As the story goes,
Delany learned of the invitation accorded Penn State University to join the
Big Ten in a newspaper. Yep. In the newspaper.
Now, that's what I call putting forth visionary leadership. In reality, it
really is good eyesight - as well as hand-eye coordination to be able to turn
the page when it says, "Continued on page 4."
In other words, some newspaper scooped the commissioner about the di-
rection his conference would be headed in the next century. I guess it also
shows the respect the presidents of the universities have for him. "Be good
Jim, we'll tell you all about it after it's announced. Now go play with your
Bo Schembechler wrote in the final chapter of his newly released paper-
back version of "BO" some stinging thoughts on the new commissioner.
"This Delany is bad news, and people should know it," Bo wrote.
Schembechler also penned, "He's not a football guy. He has no real
background in the game.... The other coaches in the Big Ten should know
what kind of person they're dealing with."
Bo made these comments because he believes Delany meddles with the
officiating. Delany made a laughingstock out of himself and the Big Ten by
issuing Schembechler a reprimand for his Rose Bowl tirade - after he had
retired from football.
Of course, when Bo received the reprimand, he wet his pants and began
shaking in his boots. Scores of people showed up at his house in outrage
that the coach would ever act like such a Cromagnon to draw the wrath of a
But more important to the state of college football today are the
armtwisting policies Delany has instituted on officials. Schembechler was
told by former supervisor of Officials Gene Calhoun that Delany told the of-
ficials he wanted several Illinois players watched for overaggressive behav-
ior, and the Michigan coaches kept in check when the two teams met last
"Bo, he was trying to mindset us," Calhoun said, "You can't do that to
Of course, officials had a little something to do with the fiasco that took
place in Ann Arbor a week ago. They botched a call. And the week before
that - the same crew allowed a forward lateral go unnoticed, which let
Illinois defeat Ohio State. Maybe the crew was too focused on overaggres-
sive players that they missed the actual play. Or maybe they all made sure
John Cooper or Gary Moeller didn't step too far out of their coaching boxes.
These same officials had to be told by Tripp Welborne that Michigan
State won the coin toss at the start of the game. They believed otherwise.
With so much controversy on the final play of Michigan's loss to the
Spartans, reporters asked that a pool reporter be sent to the officials dressing
area to hear their explanation. Michigan Sports Information Director Bruce
Madej took the job. The next day, Madej received a call from the Big Ten.
telling him that a pool reporter is not allowed in that situation. Why? Well,
you are only allowed to talk to officials about rule interpretations, not
judgment calls.
That's ludicrous. Maybe an official could have explained why he made
such a call. But Director of Big Ten Communications Mark Rudner said that
is not a good idea.
"Judgment is judgment," Rudner said. "What you see, maybe I don't
"But don't you think an official being able to explain that would help
everyone?" Rudner was asked.
"No. No. I mean no," Rudner said. "We just don't want to be question-
ing an officials' judgement."
In other words, the Big Ten attempts to shield its officials from tough
calls. They don't want their judgement questioned, they said. So what do
they do? They come out two days later and admit the judgment of the offi-
cial was wrong.
Of course, Gary Moeller told everyone about his private conversation
with new Supervisor of Officials Dave Parry. Then, the Big Ten admits it
This sends George Perles jumping up and down - which isn't a good idea
considering Perles appears to be in his third trimester of pregnancy.
Last week, the Big Ten appeared to be stomping around in 10 different
directions. It was pure upheaval. Perles would like the commissioner t.
jump in and take hold and stop all these people talking in all different direc
Perles is right. Last week was a joke for the Big Ten - and it only
started with the officials bad call.
The problem Perles will have in receiving any kind of support is that
there is no leadership at the top. Only a void. Until Delany gets a grasp oL
what it's like to run a conference which is supposed to represent excellence
- there's a load of trouble. u
Let presidents bicker about whether or not Penn State should be a Big
Ten member. Let officials continue to blow calls. Let coaches complain
about the conference and other coaches.

But make sure that no player is overagressive or no coach tries to take
advantage of an official. That's the real job of the commissioner. Yeah,
that's it.



Career Planning and Placement
Jan Harold Brunvand
The Scholar of Urban Legends
Featured speaker at Career Expo 1990
Wednesday, October 24
5:00 - 6:00 p.m.
Pendleton Room, Michigan Union
znsvand, a syndicualcohnumistandsuboer of
ma~~~~ czu2Kinl yeivbleW
iw of the 'world ofwork
Seen -nBrown Bag with Brunvand
Ps -Noon -1p.m.

What to wear to football games:

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