On covering women’s volleyball

By Emin Avakian, Women’s volleyball beat writer:

You know I never get comments on my articles, so I’m compelled to write a blog after just four comments (three negative) on my latest article. I always love getting feedback, even the negative ones, so my excitement level was above normal.

I must have read each comment five times each, if only to make sure that I understood completely what they were saying. I stayed up thinking about it. Thoughts went through my mind like, “I didn’t mean to make my readers angry,” and “I don’t want to be known as one of those writers who loves to spark up controversy.” But then another thought went through my head, and I stopped thinking about the comments: “Wait a minute, I haven’t done anything wrong!”

For those who haven’t heard, a few anonymous readers are taking offense to my coverage of the women’s volleyball team. One of the readers said I should be “nice.” Another one of them said my articles have been “extremely negative.” Someone else said, “Emin (that’s me) should stop writing about how well the opposing team is doing and start talking about Northridge volleyball girls and how hard they are trying to win.”

As loyal as my three readers are, maybe I need to remind them who I’m not. I’m not one of the people in the stands, clapping my hands and cheering for the Matadors when they win a point, a set, or a match. I’m not the one who is going to encourage them to do better. And I’m not the one who is going to write a positive story after a loss.

I AM the sports writer on the Sundial who is the beat writer for the Northridge women’s volleyball team (a Division I team). And as the unbiased beat writer, I can’t be ignoring the real story to make the players feel better about themselves. I’m not going to be respected when it comes time to finding a career. And, of course, I don’t want an “F” in the class.

I understand you’re looking out for the players’ feelings. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on who you ask, I’m in the business of being objective, and my feelings don’t get in the way of writing the story.

Do I want to see the Matadors win? Sure. The team is likeable. Head Coach Jeff Stork and the players have always been available for an interview, and I’ve always told them I appreciate their time.

I think anyone will tell you that I’ve never said anything negative about an individual. Come to think of it, I’m not even being negative. I write what I see. Asking me to ignore the winning team, and the facts to focus on boosting the spirits of Northridge players in a game story? I’m sorry. I can’t do that.

But if you want to fill those seats and cheer as loud as you can to get the Matadors going on the right track, then the Northridge family is all for it.