Folks, this post isn’t about just a sports situation. It also demonstrates how journalists spin stories.
We'll look at the first part of a NY Times report, with a link to the rest of it. Then we’ll look at the spin.
Under reporter Pete Thamel’s byline, The Times’ story begins - - -
When Chris Kennedy sat down last spring to write an appeal to the N.C.A.A. for 33 members of the Duke lacrosse team to be granted an extra season, he had no expectations.
Duke canceled its 2006 season after eight games in the wake of rape and sexual assault accusations against three players. The charges were later dropped. Kennedy, an associate athletic director, wrote about the campus and news media firestorms, detailing the death threats, angry protests and safety concerns that forced the university to cancel the season.
His premise was simple: “An extraordinary request for an extraordinary situation.”
Perhaps surprisingly, the 15-page plea worked. Not surprisingly, the results have loomed large over the collegiate lacrosse world and have changed the tenor of the 2008 season.
“I don’t think the N.C.A.A. put one minute’s thought into how this would affect college men’s lacrosse,” Virginia Coach Dom Starsia said. “That’s my issue. John Danowski and the boys I have no problem with.”
The N.C.A.A. granted Coach John Danowski’s players an extra year, citing “hardship endured by the team from the false allegations.”
Top-ranked Duke (16-1), with five fifth-year seniors taking advantage of the waiver, is the overwhelming favorite in the N.C.A.A. tournament, which starts Saturday. ...
The rest of Thamel’s lengthy story is here.
Now let’s look at the spin.
“The charges were later dropped.”
That’s certainly spin. The players were declared INNOCENT!
The Times knows that.
But that’s not the spin I’m referring to.
And I don’t know whether The Times' saying “safety concerns” were a factor “that forced the university to cancel the season” is spin because I don’t know whether or not Chris Kennedy made that claim to the N.C.A.A.
If you know, please let me know and I’ll follow-up.
Here's the start of the spin I’m talking about:
“I don’t think the N.C.A.A. put one minute’s thought into how this would affect college men’s lacrosse,” Virginia Coach Dom Starsia said. “That’s my issue. John Danowski and the boys I have no problem with.”The spin begins, as it so often does, with things The Times doesn’t tell you.
For example, that on Apr. 28 Dom Starsia’s Virginia team lost at home to “John Danowski and the boys I have no problem with” 11-9.
As a result, Duke’s seeded first in the 16-team N.C.A.A. lacrosse championship bracket; Staria's Virginia is seeded second and in the opposite bracket.
Here's something else The Times doesn’t mention: If Duke were out of the way, Starsia’s Virginia team would be the favorite to win the N.C.A.A. championship.
Steady mates. There’s still more NYT spin to come.
Every sports reporter who covers lacrosse knows Starsia’s the “go to guy” if you're looking for a knock on Duke lacrosse with a self-serving add-on like: “John Danowski and the boys I have no problem with”
But The Times doesn’t tell you that, the better to spin you.
Just take a look at this May 31, 2007 ESPN story reporting the “NCAA has granted Duke's request for an extra year of eligibility for its men's lacrosse players following rape allegations that led to the cancellation of much of last season.
Virginia coach Dom Starsia, whose Cavaliers won the national championship in 2006, was unhappy with the decision, though he said it was about more than seeing some of Duke's top players possibly stick around a while longer.We can all agree Duke’s administration and trustees have inflicted wounds on the University and not held themselves accountable.
"Everybody in the lacrosse world was embarrassed by what happened," he said. "But it almost feels now as if nobody's really paying for this thing. I would've been the first to say that Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty probably deserved another year. But I'm not sure that everybody involved here should be painted with the same broad brush and it just seems that's what the NCAA chose to do.
"Most of these wounds seem to be self-inflicted at Duke. I'm not sure if the institution has kind of held itself accountable for everything that happened," he added.
But I doubt that’s what really had Coach Starsia upset.
As for spin and Starsia as a “go to guy” for reporters like Pete Thamel and news organizations like The Times, do I need to say any more?
Hat tip: Skeptical