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Should Practices Be Open to the Media?

This is a perpetual battle between media members and sports teams, and the latest skirmish popped up in our area this week. Maryland's leading tackler Wesley Jefferson wore a non-contact jersey during Wednesday's practice, but media members were asked not to mention that fact. The Baltimore Sun, obviously, did not comply. In response, Coach Ralph Friedgen yesterday closed practices to the media until further notice.

A similar situation happened last month in Tennessee, where the local media kept quiet about Vince Young's upcoming first start in an effort not to lose their access to Titans practices. Anonymous Sports Journalists were upset, and bloggers were outraged, while the Tennessean defended its policy: not reporting on things seen in practice that would give opponents a competitive advantage:

Does it create awkward, uncomfortable situations? Certainly it does when it's a story the size of Vince Young getting his first start. But it's ridiculous to suggest that we should have taken some sort of stand and broken a trust that's existed, for some of us, since 1996. It's ridiculous to suggest that Fisher has any control over us.

While Maryland football might not be as high-profile as the Titans, this week's events are sure to draw some national notice. The Big Lead has already jumped on The Post and praised The Sun for what's gone down so far:

We scoured the Washington Post's website, but found no mention of the non-contact jersey. Ditto for the Washington Times and the Maryland school paper, The Diamondback. If Maryland were ranked, The Post would have egg on its face. Will it react by boycotting the Terps' homecoming game against NC State?

To some extent, this stuff is probably more interesting to reporters than to fans, but I'm curious what you think, because we claim to be representing "our readers" when we ask for greater access. So, would knowledge of a non-contact jersey worn by a Maryland star be valuable to N.C. State's coaches, or to our readers, or to both? How does USC manage to do pretty well despite opening its practices to the media? Do media members have any right to expect access to practices? As a fan of a team, would you trade away some of the information you get in exchange for greater secrecy for the coaching staff? Was The Sun right for putting Wesley Jefferson's injury in yesterday's paper?

By Dan Steinberg  |  October 20, 2006; 9:17 AM ET
Categories:  College Football  
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