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And Another Thing

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Analyze this

So here I am this morning, trying to think of a scenario in which, if I were an ESPN exec, I would NOT at the very least suspend tennis analyst Pam Shriver for a month or so.

Sorry. Got nothin'.

If you haven't heard this, here's the skinny: American James Blake was playing on one of Wimbledon's outlying courts yesterday, and not well. Shriver was doing what an analyst should, talking about how badly Blake was playing. Every word was correct.

Unfortunately, she was doing it within earshot of Blake. And doing it very loudly, so that her "analysis" sounded a lot more like heckling than analysis.

So finally Blake turned around, looked up at the booth and said "I can hear you, you know." After which Shriver responded that "James Blake is yelling at me. He must have rabbit ears."

After which, as columnist Greg Couch rightly points out here, Shriver should have been immediately escorted from the grounds.

And if I'm ESPN, I suspend her. Hell, I might even fire her if I were in a particularly bad mood.

I suspend her because, as a professional sports journalist for more than three decades, I simply can't imagine a scenario in which I would get into a verbal back-and-forth with one of the athletes I cover while that athlete was trying to compete. It's inconceivably unprofessional -- akin to, I don't know, covering a basketball game and getting into an argument with the coach in the middle of the fourth quarter.

I would have been immediately evicted from the premises if that happened, and I'd have had my credentials revoked. And I wouldn't have had a leg to stand on in my defense.

So why didn't that happen to Shriver? Aside, that is, from the obvious, which is that she works for the World Wide Leader and the World Wide Leader gets to play by different rules than the rest of us?

That's the real travesty in all this. Travesty No. 2 is that Shriver should have known better, not as a professional journalist (she's nothing of the sort), but as a professional athlete. Once upon a time she was the one down there preparing to serve while the officials shushed everyone in the stands around her. She'd have pitched a fit if someone had done to her what she did to Blake. And yet now she's up there talking so loudly one of the players can hear her? And then compounding it by continuing to engage him?

What a twit. And, of course, the inevitable consequence of hiring untrained ex-jocks to do the work of trained journalists.

Ben Smith's blog.

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