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Colour Commentary: The line between journalist and fan

by Matthew Ohayon October 1, 2019
Colour Commentary: The line between journalist and fan

We all fell in love with a team and sport for a reason.

From the moment I stepped into Concordia’s journalism program three years ago, I was told that I am to consider myself to be a journalist.

Every print journalist has their own style of writing. For myself, I try to put my voice, personality and identity in every piece I write. All of my friends and family know that my dream is to one day be a broadcaster for the Montreal Canadiens.

Since I was about seven years old, I lived, breathed, and bled Bleu, Blanc et Rouge. That love of the team turned into love of the sport, as I got older. It’s not very often that I get emotional, but I have shed many tears in the Bell Centre because of this team.

I’d be willing to bet that most sports journalists are in the same boat as me. They’ve been following a team for a long time, fell in love with that team and its sport, and wanted to make a living off of that passion.

So why do many journalists pretend to not be fans of a team they are covering when they grew up as one? Or, why do some criticize journalists for being fans of teams?

I can only speak for myself when I say this: I have two hats when it comes to sports. A professional one where I recognize that I have a job to do – just like the players – and the 13-year-old kid that has hockey in his heart.

I understand the criticism that people have that if someone is a fan of a team, they are likely to back the things they do and find justification for questionable decisions. But again, the professional hat has to take over in that case. It is possible to have journalistic integrity while holding on to a team that has meant so much to someone growing up (ahem, James Mirtle).

Yes, being a sports journalist, one must be professional, fair and balanced. Criticize when necessary, praise when necessary. But at the end of the day, we all fell in love with a team and sport for a reason.

Sports are fun. Getting behind a team is fun. As long as it does not get in the way of doing your job, I don’t see why I have to hide the part of my identity that got me in this field in the first place.

 

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