Tuesday, January 3, 2017

In The Press Box

TigerBlog has, predictably, spent a lot of time in press boxes, big and small, through his professional life.

The press box at Lincoln Financial Field is one of them. TB has been there for four NCAA men's lacrosse championship weekends, most recently the last one, back on Memorial Day weekend of 2016.

TigerBlog likes the press box at the Linc, even though it's located in the corner of the field, instead of the 50-yard line. During the lacrosse championships, it's pretty crowded, filled with most of the same faces that TB sees year after year at the event, whether it's in Philly, Baltimore or Foxboro (where it will be this year).

The Linc press box is very spacious. You walk in from the hallway by a bank of elevators and are in an outer area, where there is a cafeteria and work area. To your left is a hallway to the broadcasting booths, and in front of you is the main press area.

TigerBlog and the stat crew have their own booth in Baltimore and Foxboro. In Philadelphia, they have an elevated row to themselves, behind where the press sits.

The press box during the lacrosse championships is a low-key place, for the most part. It's hard for TB to imagine what went on there Sunday, in stark contrast to his own experiences there.

In case you missed it, the Linc press box was the site of a rather strange situation during Sunday's game between the Eagles and Cowboys, a game that was, by the way, meaningless.

The incident stemmed from what was perceived as an overly loud discussion among some of the writers about an interpretation of a penalty. When the Eagles' press box staff told the writers to be quiet, the writers objected. One of them - Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer - was then actually ejected. When other writers protested, they were told they would be next if they didn't calm down.

TigerBlog has never heard of anything like that before. TigerBlog wasn't there, obviously, but there is no way that the Eagles handled this well. All the team has done is open itself up to look unnecessarily petty. It's a little surprising to TigerBlog that the rest of the sportswriters there didn't follow McLane out the door in protest.

McLane, by the way, now has 72,000 followers on Twitter. TB wonders how many he had a week ago.

The rule in press boxes is no cheering, and TB has had to ask people to leave Princeton press boxes for violating that rule. Back in his days in the newspaper business, he saw one visiting SID run the length of the press box at the College of New Jersey yelling "go, go, go" as his team's running back ran for a long touchdown.

TigerBlog chuckled at that one.

People in athletic communications work very hard with their teams, and it's only natural to want to see them win. It's not always easy to sit and watch emotionlessly as that team wins or loses a big game, but that is part of the job. On the other hand, not everyone in TB's profession is good about it.

TigerBlog is. There's only been one time in his entire professional career that he even briefly got caught up in the moment of a game. That came in the 1996 Ivy men's basketball playoff game, in overtime, tie game, final minute, when Sydney Johnson's three-pointer from the corner was in the air.

As it majestically floated to the basket, and eventually in, TigerBlog inadvertently said "get in there" loud enough that the person next to him heard it. Fortunately, the person next to him was David Rosenfeld, his Princeton OAC colleague at the time. David has, though, reminded TB several times in the years since that TB had violated one of his sacred beliefs.

Usually during a game, a press box is a fairly tame place. It's quiet. People are doing their jobs. There will be more laughing than anything else, as the people in the press box like to keep a running commentary of the game and anything going on around it.

The first press box that TigerBlog was ever in was the one in Palmer Stadium, back when he was a student broadcaster at Penn. The Palmer Stadium press box was definitely no-frills, as was the rest of the stadium.

When TB started to work at Princeton, he began to undertake that annual exciting task of bringing a copy machine up the through the stands to that press box and then bringing it back down at the end of the season. The press box in Palmer was two levels, all wood, with TV/radio booths upstairs from the main press area. There was also no way to block the late season elements, so it got a tad chilly up there in November.

Somewhere in the archives is a picture of the press box in the 1930s or 1940s, with a clearly visible sign that says "Press box - no women allowed."

Princeton Stadium has a much more modern press box, with only one level, an elevator and even carpeting. It's the nicest press box in the Ivy League, followed by Cornell and Columbia.

The press box at Class of 1952 Stadium is one of the more unique ones, in that it faces one way, onto Sherrerd Field, for lacrosse and then the other way, onto Bedford Field, for field hockey. It works fairly well for lacrosse games, especially early season ones, in that it is heated, though it gets a little crowded in there when the game is on TV.

The Baker Rink press box is in the end zone, above one of the goals. TigerBlog hasn't been in too many hockey rinks, so he doesn't know if that is unusual.

As for what happened in the press box Sunday in Philadelphia, TigerBlog hasn't ever had to deal with anything quite like that, thankfully.

At the same time, he's reasonably sure he could have defused the situation without having to eject anyone.

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