You've heard there's no such thing as a stupid question. I tend to agree with that. But there is such a thing as a bad one. The Yale-Baylor press conference proved that today.
The transcript, as provided by ASAP sports:
Q. You said you got out-rebounded and I checked the stats; you did, 36-32. How does Baylor get out-rebounded by Yale? How does that happen?
TAUREAN PRINCE: They had more rebounds than us.
Q. You said you got out-rebounded, you did, 36-32. How does Yale out-rebound Baylor?
TAUREAN PRINCE: You go up and grab the ball off the rim when it comes off, and then you grab it with two hands, then you come down with it, and that's considered a rebound. So they got more of those than we did.
The video, which is making the rounds, is even more devastating.
It's a bad question on a number of levels. It's accusatory for no real reason. It feels like the reporter is trying to either provoke a reaction or lead Prince to a point, but that point is lost on me. And, let's be real: It trades in some pretty dangerous stereotypes of how black athletes and white athletes are "supposed" to play.
But the question's biggest sin was pointed out by Ken Pomeroy in a tweet:
2 teams in top 20 of offensive and defensive rebounding: Michigan St. & Yale. If you are surprised at Yale's rebounding, do your job better.— Ken Pomeroy (@kenpomeroy) March 17, 2016
This gets to the issue of expertise and access in journalism.
I've written about this before. From last year:
Reporters don't know shit. That's why we ask questions to find shit out. Journalists are not experts, but their job is to talk to people who are experts or have experience and report what they say and feel.
This gets to the issue of access to sources, which has become the focus of my current research. One of the reasons I think journalists value access to sources so much is that belief I wrote about in that previous paragraph, that the reporters' job is to not be the expert but rather find the experts and report what they say. In this line of work, that's players and coaches.
But Pomeroy's tweet reminded me of a conversation I had with my friend Dr. Galen Clavio on The Flip Side recently. He made the point that sports journalists should be experts on their beat. They should know strategy, analytics, techniques, things like that. And in a way, that flies in the face of the journalism norm that our expertise would diminish our relationship with our sources, or insert ourselves too much into our stories. But expertise would help us write better, more well-informed stories for our readers.
At the very least, it would let us watch Yale outrebound Baylor and realize why that may have happened and stopped us from asking a really bad question.