SBD/Issue 129/Sports Media

Say What? Washington Post's Harlan Embarrassed To Cover Sports

Washington Post Nationals beat reporter Chico Harlan said he does not "like sports" and is "embarrassed" that he covers them, according to Harry Jaffe of the WASHINGTONIAN. Harlan, who joined the paper last year and is set to start his first full season covering the Nationals, said of covering sports, "I can't wait to stop. It is a means to an end and a paycheck." Harlan added, "My approach might drive hard-core fans crazy because I might not get inside for that nitty-gritty play-by-play. The passion I can drum up is wanting to capture what is unique about each game. ... I never want to be obvious. I never want the reader to say nothing in my story caught him by surprise." Jaffe writes Harlan's distance from the Nationals "might make for tough reporting that's sometimes missing in Post coverage of local teams." Meanwhile, Harlan said of Nationals Owners the Lerner family, "They're running this team, and they remain a mystery. It drives me crazy. Cracking them will be one of my true goals of the year, my daily mission." He added Nationals President Stan Kasten is a "bit of a control freak." Harlan: "He wants to control every piece of information the Nationals put out. He hates sportswriters and agents, but he watches out for his employees" (WASHINGTONIAN, 4/ '09 issue).

TOO LATE TO APOLOGIZE? Harlan Sunday wrote on the Washington Post's "Nationals Journal" blog, "I owe an apology, because I said something stupid." Harlan: "The quote is accurate. The sentiment is not. I have nothing but gratitude and appreciation for my job. I know I'm lucky as heck to do what I do. ... I wouldn't be doing it if I didn't have passion." He wrote he "didn't want to be portrayed ... as some central casting sportswriter: the sort who always dreamed of athletic glory, lacked the skills, and chose the next best thing." Harlan: "That's not me. I wanted [to] make the point that I have other interests, many more" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 3/22).

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