To say the least, I am torn.
One of the first things writers learn in journalism school is that as professionals, we need to be unbiased. We are expected to step back from situations and report on them accurately and objectively, regardless of what our personal views on the subject are.
As a student at South Florida, I also think it is my right ? and to some extent my responsibility ? to be a fan of USF athletics. Before I ever set foot into the offices of The Oracle, I enjoyed going to games and rooting for the Bulls.
And this is where the moral dilemma begins.
I was talking to senior safety Joe Morgan at the Bulls? media luncheon the other day, and he said some things that really made me think. Morgan said he thought last year?s Oracle sports regime was unfairly harsh. In his opinion, we are the students? and the team?s newspaper, so we should be more supportive.
And I have to be honest, part of me agreed with him.
Since the Bulls began practicing Aug. 11, I have sat (excuse me, stood) through nearly all of their workouts, watching this team prepare for the school?s first-ever journey into Division I-A football. I have sweated through two-a-day practices with the Bulls, watching these guys go through tedious drill after monotonous exercise. After each workout, I went home drained from just watching the 90-minute practice in shorts and a T-shirt in the unforgiving Florida sun.
Imagine how the players felt.
Some publications have USF ranked as low as 116th out of a possible 117 teams in Division I-A. Coach Jim Leavitt said he has no problem with the so-called experts? opinions of the Bulls. And he?s right, USF hasn?t done anything at this level. Perhaps they?ll finish last out of the I-A teams, but what?s important is that the Bulls are a I-A team.
But this group of young men is now poised to break new ground, as have nearly all of the Bulls teams since football was instituted four years ago. Leavitt is as solid a person as the program he is building, and trust me, it won?t be long before he has the Bulls competing for Bowl berths. Will it be this year? Probably not. But there?s no point in trying to put a timetable on a Bowl appearance, because who, five or 10 years ago, would have guessed the football program would be where it is today?
For the Bulls to capture some national attention, a few things will have to occur. USF will need someone to have a marquee season. Maybe that player will be Marquel Blackwell. The Bulls will need to pull off an upset. Maybe that will be in the second week when they play Pittsburgh and Kenny Robinson steps in front of Biletnikoff Award winner Antonio Bryant, racing down the sideline in the closing seconds for a USF victory.
Call me a fan ? er, I mean journalist.
Working at The Oracle and honing my craft are important to me, so therefore, I must separate the student side of me that wants to root for the Bulls from the professional side of me that must write in an unbiased fashion. And since the newspaper business is my chosen profession, I am obligated to uphold the journalistic code of ethics.
Be fair. Be consistent. Be objective.
But my thoughts also drift back to the conversation Morgan and I had at the media luncheon. I recall how Morgan?s eyes lit up when he spoke about getting the chance to play with USF on the Playstation 2 College Football game. How excited he was to have a chance to play major-college Division I-A football in his final year of school. And I think about how nice it would be to just be able to be a fan of the team. To be able to just write about the positives that will happen this season, ignoring the botched blocking assignments and missed tackles. But as I prepare myself for a career in sports journalism, I know I must not stray from the path of objectivity at any time.
Ah, the heck with that ? GO BULLS!
Brandon Wright is a senior majoring in journalism and is The Oracle Sports Editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org