Outing Wie Won't Win Any Awards for Journalism

"Our Hokies" won going away in College Park, where they had strong representation among the nearly 55,000 fans, which only made things worse for Maryland supporters. (By John Mcdonnell -- The Washington Post)
By George Solomon
Sunday, October 23, 2005

Couldn't wait to read Sports Illustrated this week, to savor senior writer Michael Bamberger's piece on Michelle Wie, whom Bamberger outed to the LPGA for a penalty drop Saturday that was 12 to 18 inches closer to the par-5 seventh hole than her original shot at the Big Horn Golf Club in Palm Desert, Calif. On Sunday, after Bamberger notified the LPGA of what he had seen, the LPGA disqualified Wie from her pro debut in the Samsung World Championship, costing her $53,126 and a fourth-place finish.

But the magazine included no story about the 16-year-old Wie by Bamberger; rather, there was a congratulatory story by Alan Shipnuck about Bamberger, stating that "third parties -- even reporters -- who point out rules infractions are protecting the field and preserving the integrity of the competition."

"Since he'd [Bamberger] become part of the story, we thought it appropriate to have someone else write the piece," said Jim Herre, an assistant managing editor at SI who directs the magazine's golf coverage. Herre said he approved Bamberger reporting Wie's violation to the LPGA, and Shipnuck even ended his story with Wie's father congratulating Bamberger.

Their boss, managing editor Terry McDonell, said Bamberger acted "within the ethics of golf" but the magazine's top editor added that he "wasn't aware of the situation" until after the fact. Bamberger "should have gone to Wie beforehand," McDonell said. "That's what I would have preferred. But he [Bamberger] didn't want to swallow the whistle."

So we won't nominate Bamberger for the George Polk medal for courageous journalism. And no awards for SI, which sent him there to write a story -- not to enforce the rules of golf and become the story. He was there to write about what he'd seen. That's what SI pays him to do.

Nevertheless, if Bamberger is inclined to continue his vigilante sports journalism, I have some suggestions for future assignments:

Hang out at Al and Alma's charter-boat dock at Lake Minnetonka and wait for Vikings.

Go up close and personal at the San Francisco Giants' training camp next spring when they conduct drug tests.

Play a round of golf with Mike Tyson and keep the scorecard.

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