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Thursday (You don't need sources to know RGIII might start season) edition: Wha' Happened?

  • Blog Post by: Michael Rand
  • February 14, 2013 - 10:16 AM

This is 2013, and it seems like 50 percent of all the sports stories out there -- particularly on ESPN.com -- contain the words "sources" or "report" in their headline or early body text. It's the way of the world. Somewhere along the way, speed of information became more valuable than a name attached to it. There are team sources, league sources, and our favorite: sources close to the situation. And as long as someone has written a story about something -- no matter how credible it is -- you can also write something and say "as reported by so-and-so."

Doing what we do here, we pluck a lot of other reports and try to build on them or at least bring their attention to our audience. We try to be pretty cautious and make sure that the report we're citing is credible, particularly if the outside report is using anonymous sources (like, for instance, yesterday's post about Luke Ridnour trade speculation).

But even if we somewhat accept the level of anonymous sourcing and copycat work that goes on these days, much of it in the name of shoveling coal into the furnace of the runaway page view train, that doesn't mean some of it doesn't still drive us crazy.

Like, for instance, today's ESPN.com teaser headline that reads, "Sources: RGIII has chance to start opener," which leads into a story that begins thusly: "Though it is only a little more than a month since Robert Griffin III underwent reconstructive knee surgery, Washington Redskins officials are encouraged enough with his recovery to believe he has a legitimate chance to start in the 2013 opener, according to team and league sources."

Two things: First, you DO NOT NEED SOURCES for this story. You only need a calendar. Adrian Peterson had surgery on Dec. 30, 2011, to repair his shredded knee, and we all saw what happened with him last year. Not everyone is Peterson -- news flash -- but his recovery proves that RGIII, who had surgery Jan. 9 this year, has a "legitimate chance to start the 2013 opener."

Second, all the sources are doing is speculating how fast he *might* recover: "Those who know him insist he is a physical freak, not unlike Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who was able to rush for 2,097 yards and win the MVP Award the season after undergoing major knee surgery." Aside from saying his rehab is going well, which everyone says at this point in the process, these "sources" did not provide a single piece of factual evidence to back up the premise of the story -- at least nothing that the average person could not have gleaned, again, with simple math.

Sources close to the situation say that really annoys us and diminishes the impact of stories that make legitimate use of anonymous sources.

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