We’re being taken to task on our Facebook page today by a group of readers who think this morning’s editorial cartoon was too harsh on the home team.
Cartoonist Frank Shiers depicted the Seahawks as an injured bird flying through the air, with the New Orleans Saints, the ‘Hawks playoff opponent for Saturday, portrayed as a shotgun with the wounded bird in its sight. Here’s a look if you missed it:
It should go without saying that a cartoon on the opinion page is simply one journalist’s view, which is why the angry mob got after him by name. But pointing out the flaws in a professional football is something every booster out there fully participates in (harshest criticism for those we care about, after all), and is different than actively rooting against the home team (which is why I laughed at the cartoon and wanted it on that page). I know I criticized the local guys while watching the Seahawks stumble toward the finish line, or when UW went 0-12 under Willingham, or when the M’s lost 100, or… actually, I should stop my examples there.
We don’t pass judgment on a sports team’s flaws or successes because we’re boosters, but as journalists. You should expect that from us, and calling a team out gives credibility to us lauding success when it’s earned. However, we’re in a new era and that’s why I wanted to quickly respond to the accusation that poking fun at a professional sports team is “downright offensive.”
The era I’m taking about is one where Fox Sports Northwest, who broadcasts local sports, changes its name to “Root Sports.” I get it, they want to appeal to passionate fans in this “we’re all behind our boys” way, and there is some precendent in the sports department of playing homer that wouldn’t fly in say, covering city hall. But, as Jim Moore points out far better than I can, changing your name to “Root” picks away at the notion of independent journalism just a bit, and I’d argue, sets up the attitude where a local newspaper cartoonist gets pilloried for having a sense of humor about the obvious.
All that said; “Go Seahawks.” They’ll have no trouble finding a prominent spot on our pages should they pull off the upset of the year. Maybe even Frank will give them some love.