An Open Letter to the Toronto Sports Media…. Grow some nuts and ask the tough questions please.
Dear Toronto Sports Media:
Tomorrow Afternoon at BMO Field Toronto FC Director of Soccer Mo Johnston will announce that TFC Captain Jim Brennan is retiring with immediate effect in order to take a position as the Assistant to the Director of Soccer. This development is one of the most surprising things to happen in the short history of this club.
Over the past couple of weeks club staff such as Coach Preki, and Jim Brennan himself for that matter, have come out as upset about what they consider as overly critical or negative coverage of this club so far this season in the media. This is im my opinion a tactic designed to get the heat off the club during a time of great uncertainty and upheaval. And with due respect, it appears to be working. You are not asking the tough questions.
Don’t believe them! You are not being nearly critical enough in your approach to finding out what is really happening with this team. As the media you have a responsibility to ask the questions that your readers, viewers and listeners want to have asked. We do not care how excited anyone is. We don’t care about the mood. And we don’t want to hear about how anyone is feeling.
During this press conference a number of very important questions need to be asked to both Mo and Jim, and based on past history, I frankly believe that you all may not be up to the task of asking them. Softball questions are all we as fans have to come to expect from most of the journalists covering this club and if there is ever a time to ask some tough questions then tomorrow is that time. I implore you all to at least consider asking some of the questions that need answering.If you are stuck for a loss of words when Michelle Lissel calls upon you to ask your question I have a few suggestions below to help you out, in no particular order.
“Jim, last week on the ‘It’s Called Football’ program you stated that your intention was to play the rest of this season and then retire at the end of this year. What changed from last week to now to make you change our mind and retire from playing immediately?“
“Mo, there are a lot of apparent similarities between the retirements of Jim Brennan here today and Danny Dichio last season. When Danny retired suddenly last season Julian De Guzman was signed days after. Now Jim retires and we have rumours of high priced players like Paul Dickov on their way into the club. Can you address fan concerns Mo that these types of moves are more related to your management of the salary cap than any wish of the players to retire in this type of fashion at this time?”
“Mo, reports yesterday quoted an executive of another MLS club who said this move was, quote ‘…strange (considering) that a player with little business experience and no experience in this league when it comes to soccer administration…has been promoted to such a position…”. Would either you or Jim care to respond?“
“Jim, you were the club’s first signing and the club’s captain from day one. Some fans are saying that you leaving at this time in this way is not the way a leader should lead. Do you feel you are turning your back on the players in the locker room and on the fans?“
“Mo, is this a rebuilding year?“
“Mo, can you rate the club’s chances to make the playoffs?”
“Jim, why did you go through a gruelling training camp and work hard to prepare for the season as a player and then realize now that this was the time to retire? Was there a specific event or issue that precipitated this decision?”
“Mo, you stated previously that Preki has been responsible for most, if not all, the player personnel decisions with the club since his arrival. With that in mind can you please clarify what you consider your role as Director of Soccer is if you are not making the calls on players?” And as a follow up question: “Mo, can you or Jim explain specifically what an assistant to the Director of Soccer is going to be directly responsible for?“
Breaking news sells newspapers, draws in viewers/listeners and makes you look good to your bosses. Newsrooms are places now experiencing cutbacks and layoffs. There are stories here people. I urge you to take advantage of a great opportunity tomorrow to break them and do yourselves a favour.
PS. Please visit my blog called “The View From The South Stands” about all things TFC at http://www.tfcpics.com/blog
Thank you to Nigel Reed of CBC Sports for being the only reporter to ask quality questions during the press conference.