Virtually everyone who’s ever been interviewed knows that the article that ends up getting written never fully captures everything that was said. And all too often this can result in bits and pieces of what’s said getting quoted without the context of the entire conversation. Going further, when there is information from multiple interviews being interspersed with analysis from the author sometimes the final product might lead to some assumptions from the reader.
Case in point is the recent article, “A Handball Nation with a Basketball Problem” by Gregg Gethard at the classical.org, a somewhat eclectic sports blog. I had a great conversation with Gregg, who has become a fan of Team Handball and is one of those Americans relatively new to the sport trying to fathom why the sport isn’t very popular in this country. I definitely like some of his analysis, particularly the part about THN being the “go-to source for any and all people in the US interested in the sport”.
But, I’d like to clear up a few things, in particular this part of the article:
“Team sports got devalued and the USOC started to tie funding to performance,” said John Ryan, the editor of TeamHandballNews.com, the go-to source for any and all people in the US interested in the sport. “That’s the biggest factor which caused us to become weaker.”
The second is—to be frank— that no one who ran USA Team Handball for most of its history knew what the f*** they were doing.”
I certainly made the first point as I do suspect that the USOC devalues team sports in that they are a lot of investment for 1 potential medal. And it’s hard to argue that we weren’t more competitive when the USOC provided us with more funding. But, just because I’m directly quoted on the first point, don’t make the inference that the second point is a paraphrasing of something that I might have said in continuance. I didn’t drop any F-bombs and I disagree with the point entirely. While, I’ve had my share of disagreements with Mike Cavanaugh over many years and Steve Pastorino more recently, I think they knew what they were doing. Call me an apologist if you will, but the challenges this sport has faced are massive. Sure, there’s been some highly questionable management calls in the past, but even a super manager would have had more than a few failures. If it was a no-brainer easy task to turn the USA into a Team Handball nation it would have been done years ago.
And also this paragraph:
“Ryan says there are probably somewhere between 300 and 500 people in the US who care at all about the sport. And all of those people have seemingly at some point served on the NGBs board of directors. And very few of these people liked each other.”
First sentence me, second sentence either the author or perhaps, Bogdan. (He, is indeed a firebrand)
Now that, I’ve been an interviewer in addition to an interviewee, I know how these sorts of things happen. Interviews sometimes run together and sometimes as a writer you do see emphasis and what’s interestingly from a different perspective. And while some of it is a little misconstrued it does capture a lot of the problems our sport has faced in this country.
And it reminds me that I should do a post on the very same topic. Although, I’ve written about many of these issues separately, I’ll try to put together a more comprehensive summary in the next few days. And since the media questions are starting to trickle in and every reporter wonders why the U.S. isn’t at the Olympics I might as well take the time to answer it.