In the wake of the Mitchell Report and all of the recent revelations about doping and drug usage in amateur and professional sports and the Olympics, the public is getting a not-too-respectful view of how the media goes about doing its business.
As a card-carrying member of the print media for nearly 50 years, I must admit that I am embarrassed by it all.
One Hall of Fame writer excused the Barry Bonds/Roger Clemens reports in major league baseball by pointing out that the game has never been more popular, that the presence of record crowds indicates fans will tolerate anything as long as the home team wins.
Another writer admitted he was aware of what was going on in the clubhouses from coast to coast but opted not to blow a whistle for fear of reprisals, including loss of access to news sources.
Another, confessing that his hindsight was 20/20, said he had suspected for years that Olympic sprinter Marion Jones was using performance-enhancing substances but chose never to get involved in the issue unti it became an international scandal.
Another authored a book with Marion Jones and never even touched on the controversy over drugs. Afterward, when Jones confessed to allegations that she had taken steroids and the International Olympic Committee ordered her to return her gold medals, he never addressed the subject.
So it's no wonder that the public has lost faith in the media, as it has with politicians, insurance brokers and mortgage lenders.
The media has become so competitive. I recall covering the Chicago Bulls in the early 1970s in a playoff game in Los Angeles. It was one of the great Lakers teams with Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, Jerry West and Gail Goodrich, one of the best NBA teams of all time.
When I walked into the Lakers locker room after the game, I was astonished to see that hardly anyone was there. Just four writers from Chicago and a few from Los Angeles. I had a one-on-one conversation with Chamberlain, then with West. I was like a kid in a candy store.
Can you imagine that situation today? It would be like the Michael Jordan years...dozens of sportswriters, television cameras, radio, Internet, free-lancers, all trying to get a quote or a sound bite.
That's the way it is in recruiting, too. Every recruiting Web site, every college Web site, is trying to get a breaking story. Some provide almost daily updates on a recruit's thought process. Who are you considering? Have you dropped anyone? Have you added anyone? Are you leaning to anyone? Did you enjoy your campus visit last weekend? Why? Why not?
Everyone wants an exclusive story. They want to be the first to reveal which college a prize recruit is committing to. Any wonder why some kids bow to the intense pressure and commit early to avoid the hassle, the constant phone calls? Any wonder why the system is broke and desperately needs to be fixed?