Officials Limit Student Press Reporting on College Football Practices, Player Injuries

School and team officials are increasingly ordering the student and professional press to refrain from reporting on college football player injuries via observations made or information obtained during team practices.

As a respected adviser at an A-list student newspaper shared yesterday on a popular college media list-serv, “My sports editor just told me that our football beat reporter was approached at practice by the team’s sports info guy and ‘informed’ that the [paper] was not to report on players’ injuries anymore.  As in, we see a guy walking around in a cast, we can’t report that. If we do, the football coach will freeze the paper out of mid-week availability.  Which is completely ludicrous, of course.”

Ludicrous, but not unprecedented.  Daily Trojan editors at the University of Southern California noted in an editorial last week, “USC now prohibits the reporting of injuries observed during in-season practices– much like conference foes, such as Oregon, UCLA, and Washington, which have recently enacted similar policies.  The trend is one in which journalists are discouraged and even prevented, by the threat of banned access, from reporting on certain subjects.”

The editors, understandably, are not fans of the increased restrictions.  The editorial’s close: “As a publication looking to report the objective truth, the Daily Trojan does not agree with the continued efforts of the USC athletic department and institutions around the nation to keep publicly relevant information behind closed doors.  Organizations should aim to level the playing field with transparency rather than keeping facts in the dark.”

This factual darkening is, alas, becoming standard practice on many campuses.  A separate college media adviser notes, “This is a national trend right now.  We have dealt with it this year, as have many, many professional reporters. . . . This is trickle down, as the NFL has been asinine about this stuff for years despite league mandates on injury reports.  It’s typical coaches being paranoid and controlling. . . . Our policy right now is going along to get along, which leaves a bad taste in my mouth, but also gives us the option of picking our battles.”

Bottom line: Can you truly keep an injured player from the press?  A college media adviser at a Division 1 school rightly explains, “The difference between a student journalist and a professional journalist, in this case, is that the student journalist may have class with an injured player or may see that player on crutches in the cafeteria.  The coach can hide a player from the professional media, but not always from the eyes of student sports writers.”

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  1. […] latest sports reporting body blow at the college level brought to light this semester, including increasing limits on reporting on team practices and student-athlete injuries.  Heck, University of Kansas head football coach […]