The media isn’t exactly the most respected entity in American sports these days. They never really have been, though.
Now, the media is being pushed away from the field of play entirely, at Churchill Downs at least.
2013’s edition of the Kentucky Derby will be the first in history with no media watching the race from the press box because the press box no longer exists. It has been removed in an effort to attract more high-rollers, converted to a brand-new room for the highest spenders, according to a Sports on Earth story.
Instead, the media will be allowed to watch the race from an interior room on a television, with no chance to observe the tradition, activities or mystique of the happenings on the track.
As someone who covered a few sporting events in past years, I can’t say I was shocked by this news. It’s just the way sports media is being treated these days — practices are closed, everything is buttoned-up and teams don’t want the media in on their business. It’s surely understandable that they wouldn’t want their secrets blasted out in newspapers or on the Internet, but what’s the point of shutting out the media on game days?
Re: Writers kicked out of press box for Derby. I’ve maintained that by 2021 we will we watching Florida FB games on video screen in O-Dome.
— Pat Dooley (@pat_dooley) May 1, 2013
The above tweet from University of Florida beat writer Pat Dooley is the way a lot of sports writers feel these days, and I’ll go a step further: I don’t think it will be another eight years before major college football programs kick the media out of the stadium for games. If they’ve already done it for practices and have gotten away with it, what’s to stop them from forcing the media to watch the games on a big screen elsewhere? They’ve done everything else to earn an extra buck, so why won’t they take a page out of Churchill Downs’ book and bulldoze the press box for more high-priced suites?
I know there won’t be any tears shed for the media if that does happen, but in an age where people crave more information than ever about their favorite teams, the media have become increasingly more vital.
Even if Churchill Downs doesn’t think so.