Shield­ing play­ers from me­dia a dis­ser­vice

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SPORTS - WALLY HALL Read Wally Hall’s SPORTS BLOG Wal­ly­

Ed Org­eron and LSU have made a huge mis­take in their new pol­icy to not al­low me­dia ac­cess to the pro­gram via play­ers and coach­ing staff.

Org­eron will be the voice and face of the pro­gram this sea­son.

Nick Sa­ban can do that with his suc­cess, but he shouldn’t be­cause it in­stills a sense of dis­trust between play­ers and any­one out­side the tight cir­cle of foot­ball.

Ev­ery­one is con­cerned that mil­len­ni­als are los­ing the abil­ity to com­mu­ni­cate any­thing longer than 140 char­ac­ters or what they put in a text mes­sage.

Sa­ban, Org­eron and a few oth­ers are abet­ting that short­com­ing.

No one can ever ac­cuse Univer­sity of Arkansas, Fayetteville,

head Coach Bret Bielema of be­ing para­noid.

He and staff mem­bers as well as play­ers meet with the me­dia on a reg­u­lar ba­sis, which gives those play­ers ex­pe­ri­ence in deal­ing with peo­ple, builds their com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills and cre­ates in­ter­est in the pro­gram.

This is not about a colum­nist com­plain­ing about ac­cess. This is about help­ing play­ers de­velop all their skills, in­clud­ing pub­lic speak­ing, in col­lege.

LSU is go­ing to pro­vide cov­er­age via taped in­ter­views, which means the state’s flag­ship univer­sity is pro­vid­ing only the news it wants pub­lished and aired. The play­ers and Tiger Na­tion de­serve bet­ter.

. . .

In 2002, the Arkansas Demo­crat-Gazette pub­lished an amaz­ing book ti­tled Un­told Sto­ries: Black Sports He­roes Be­fore In­te­gra­tion.

Dar­ren Ivy au­thored the book, but sev­eral other sports depart­ment mem­bers worked on the saga about where black ath­letes played col­lege athletics.

The more we dug into his­tory, the more amaz­ing the sto­ries be­came.

Guys such as Bobby Mitchell, an All-Amer­i­can at Illi­nois, had such a great NFL ca­reer that he was in­ducted into the Pro Foot­ball Hall of Fame and the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame. He was from Hot Springs.

There were dozens of oth­ers who hailed from Arkansas, such as Eli­jah Pitts and Wil­lie Davis, but went out of state to play col­lege foot­ball be­fore hav­ing out­stand­ing NFL ca­reers. There were even more aca­demic suc­cess sto­ries.

The book has been out of pub­li­ca­tion for years, but a chance meet­ing with Evin Demirel in­formed that he has writ­ten a new book ti­tled African-Amer­i­can Ath­letes in Arkansas.

His book in­cludes the story of Muham­mad Ali’s 1963 visit to Lit­tle Rock and nu­mer­ous other sagas about the sports his­tory of black ath­letes in Arkansas.

If you are a sports fan, it is a great read. If you are into Arkansas sports his­tory, it is a great read.

It can be pur­chased at her­ita­ge­of­s­ or by call­ing (501) 554-5039.

Demirel is a for­mer award-win­ning writer for the Demo­crat-Gazette and has been widely pub­lished as a free­lance writer.

. . .

Be­ing plagued by in­juries dur­ing his last sea­son at LSU didn’t hurt Leonard Four­nette in the NFL Draft, as he was picked fourth over­all by the Jack­sonville Jaguars.

Four­nette’s name al­ways will be held in the same re­gard as great SEC run­ning backs such as Her­schel Walker, Bo Jack­son, Dar­ren McFad­den and Der­rick Henry, to name a few.

Need­less to say, a healthy Four­nette has been im­pres­sive in his first days of camp with the Jaguars, but he made a big im­pact on his new home­town when he took 700 — yes, 700 — tro­phies he had won, got with his nutri­tion spon­sor MET-Rx and had them cre­ate a weight set.

Four­nette then do­nated the weight set to Jack­sonville Raines High School.

Money and fame may change him, but he al­ways came across as very grounded with good in­ten­tions.

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