The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Sports

March 25, 2013

Upset is truly an upsetting one for New Mexico writer

ENID, Okla. — The first weekend of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament produced more than its share of excitement, drama and bracket-shredding.

Florida Gulf Coast is this year’s Cinderella, the first 15 seed to ever advance to the Sweet 16. La Salle, a 13 seed, and Oregon, a 12, have done their part to make most people’s brackets moot.

The tournament also has cost three people their jobs. UCLA coach Ben Howland was fired after the Bruins fell 83-63 to Minnesota in the second round, then Golden Gophers’ coach Tubby Smith was canned after Minnesota fell to Florida in the third round.

And Harvard’s stunning first-round upset victory over New Mexico left veteran sports writer Dennis Latta out of work.

Latta, editor of loboland.com, who wrote that he had been around the team for 33 years, announced after the Lobos’ defeat that he was quitting.

Latta wrote in his column he was disappointed in the team and was determined never to be let down by the Lobos again. He not only quit his job, but vowed never to attend another New Mexico basketball game. “I’ve given up,” he concluded.

I spent 17 years as a sports writer, and if I had quit my job every time I covered a losing team, I would have been unemployed decades ago.

Sports writers, even at the local level, are supposed to be impartial, dispassionate and detached. They are supposed to cover the team with a critical, but non-biased, eye.

They are not supposed to be part of the fan base, part of the program, part of the team. They are not supposed to care.

That’s not realistic, of course. Sports writers are human, with human frailties and emotions. When you cover one team game in and game out, season in and season out, you are bound to develop some sort of affinity for the coaches and players. You get to know these people and find yourself rooting, albeit silently, for them to succeed.

Besides, covering a winning team is much more enjoyable than covering a loser. For one thing, coaches and players are much more willing to talk to you after a victory than a loss.

There are only so many ways you can make a losing team sound anything but hopeless.

I covered a college basketball team that won only five games all one season. I covered another that lost after leading by six points with 20 seconds to play. That same team also lost on a half-court three-pointer at the buzzer. There were baseball games decided on bases-loaded ninth inning walks, football games fumbled away at the goal line in the final seconds.

I have been to funerals that were more cheerful than some of the losing locker rooms I have entered.

Losing is certainly no fun, but it is part of life. Every one of us experiences setbacks and disappointments. The strong learn from losses and difficulties. The weak allow losing to not only devastate, but to define them.

Latta has every right to quit his job, of course. But blaming it on a stunning upset loss by a team he has covered for years is a bit silly.

The only time I was ever disappointed in a team I covered was when they didn’t either win or lose with class. That five-win basketball team didn’t whine, didn’t quit, didn’t hang their heads. They kept giving it their best, which is all you can ask of anyone.

Sure, the Lobos’ loss to Harvard was a shock, and undoubtedly a blow to their fans. But the sun came up the next day, and there will always be a next season.

Just ask Cubs fans.

Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at jmullin@enidnews.com.

1
Text Only
Sports
  • Moving In? Indoor football coming back to Enid?

    Oklahoma City businessman Antwone Taulton and Enid Enforcers manager Mark Timberlake are in the early stages of a plan they hope will see the return of arena football in 2015 to Enid after an absence of more than 10 years. And if things progress as one league executive expects, an official announcement could be forthcoming in the near future.

    July 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • Morris Claiborne Claiborne wants to prove worth to Dallas

    Morris Claiborne had already told reporters he was ready to prove he was worthy of Dallas’ dramatic move up the draft board to get him with the sixth overall pick in 2012. He didn’t waste any time showing some urgency.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tim Tebow NCAA settles head-injury suit, will change rules

    The NCAA agreed on Tuesday to help athletes with head injuries in a proposed settlement of a class-action lawsuit that college sports’ governing body touted as a major step forward but that critics say doesn’t go nearly far enough.

    July 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • Attorney: OU's Mixon acted in self defense

    The attorney for Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon said the incident that left a 20-year-old female OU student with multiple facial fractures was a case of self-defense.

    July 29, 2014

  • OSU no longer faces APR restrictions

    NCAA officials say Oklahoma State’s football program no longer faces restrictions for the upcoming school year because its Academic Progress Rate has been amended.

    July 29, 2014

  • Radio-TV for 7-30-14

    July 29, 2014

  • Jeff Mullin mug 2012.jpg Rice's punishment hardly fit the crime

    Two games, just over 12 percent of the 16-game regular season. Two games for hitting a woman hard enough to knock her out cold.
    Rice said Monday he will not appeal his suspension, which could wind up costing him $529,411 in fines and salary. And why wouldn’t he? He must feel like he got off scot-free.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • SamBradfordpicturejpeg Bradford used to being at 'career crossroads'

    It’s become a rite of training camp for Sam Bradford.
    Every summer, he deals with the oversized burden of living up to getting picked first overall in 2010. The St. Louis Rams quarterback is not surprised that once again, he’s supposedly at a career crossroads.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • TU wins C-USA academic honor

    The University of Tulsa earned the 2013-14 Conference USA Institutional Excellence award by posting the highest grade point average during the 2013-14 academic year for all student athletes in conference-sponsored athletes, the school announced on Monday.

    July 28, 2014

  • Hixon added to West All-State football team

    July 28, 2014

Click here for NASCAR headlines
Sports Photos


Enid News & Eagle sports photos from the month of February 2014. Enjoy all the ENE photos with full access at http://enidnews.smugmug.com.