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 Transcripts from previous Sports Online discussions.

  Solomon on The Post's Sports Coverage

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George Solomon, The Post's assistant managing editor for sports, was online fielding questions about the paper's sports coverage, as well as issues involving the Redskins and other area teams. The transcript of the discussion follows.

Rockville, Md.: George,
I heard Red Auerbach saying that if a franchise in Boston, New York or Philadelphia were as bad for as long as the Wizards have been, the reporters and columnists would be a whole lot more critical than they are here. He didn't understand it. Your thoughts?

George Solomon: Some newspapers in Boston, New York and Philadelphia tend to be a bit more free-wheeling in their coverage of teams. We prefer to let our columnists express their editorial opinions and leave the reporters to reporting.

Arlington, Va.: Large sporting events such as the Super Bowl and the Final Four seem to be a mecca for freebies. Does The Post have a policy regarding its reporters and columnists accepting gifts? Is it followed?

George Solomon: We have a policy of not accepting freebies. If, however, a small, token gift is offered, the reporters can take it if they wish. At every major event, we send the league payment to cover such a gift, as well as to cover cost of food, transportation and other services.

Washington, D.C.: I have been very pleased with the increasing level of coverage of soccer in the Post, and hate to be in the position of looking a gift horse in the mouth. But sometimes it seems to me that you are really slighting D.C. United in the placement of your stories. Games frequently are only noted on page one with a squib, directing readers to an inside page, when there is either no game for a local team on page one, or a game only for Baltimore's baseball team. I wonder if you could comment on the editorial judgments involved there. And please, I'm really happy with how much you're doing.

George Solomon: What we try to do each day is present on the front the most interesting, newsworthy stories of the day. D.C. United is in the mix; sometimes they make it to the front, sometime they do not. But they are covered and their games appear in the paper.

Queens, N.Y.: Any predictions for the Redskins this season? Do the Redskins make the playoffs?

George Solomon: Will be tough. What with a number of new players and young players.

Arlington, Va.: After losing two baseball teams, does Washington – or the metro area – deserve another shot when other cities have never had one team? I refer to Charlotte who is also in the running for the Montreal Expos. They seem to be able to not only fund teams, but also support them, something lacking in the Washington area, except for the Redskins.

George Solomon: Considering the size of the Washington metro area/region, most people here believe the area should have its own Major League Baseball team. The two previous teams here (including the last one, which left in 1971, were very bad on the field and poorly managed off the field.

Silver Spring, Md.: Your impression, please, of Daniel Snyder and the first couple of weeks of his regime. Does he strike you as a reckless Peter Angelos-type or as someone who is giving the Redskins a much-needed house cleaning?

George Solomon: He certainly seems to be hands-on and interested in his investment.

Arlington, Va.: Thanks for the increased soccer coverage we've seen lately, especially during the Women's World Cup. Please keep it coming. The Post currently has regular columnists for horse racing -Beyer-, outdoor sports -Phillips-, baseball -Boswell, Kornheiser-, football -Boswell, Kornheiser, Wilbon-, basketball -Wilbon, Kornheiser-, hockey -Alexander, Kornheiser, Boswell-. When will the Post have a regular soccer columnist?

George Solomon: Tony Kornheiser, Michael Wilbon and Tom Boswell write about all sports. Andy Beyer just does horse racing. Angus Phillips does the outdoors. Bill Gildea does soccer columns for us.

Fairfax, Va.: Are Daniel Snyder's expectations for the Redskins realistic? He can fire all the front-office people he likes, but that won't overcome a shortage of talent on the team – a point Thomas Boswell pointed out recently. Your thoughts?

George Solomon: It will be very tough for the Redskins to make the playoffs. But when you spend $800 million for a team, you have to be optimistic, right?

Silver Spring, Md.: Who would you have liked to have seen as head coach of the Wizards? Doesn't the unimaginative selection of Gar Heard doom the Wizards to another couple of seasons of mediocrity – at best?

George Solomon: Not for me to say. Whoever heard of the Spurs coach?

Alexandria, VA: I have to say I think the sports coverage in the post is very good with one minor exception. The attention paid to NASCAR, one of the largest pro sports today, is pitiful. Are there plans to increase this, if not, why?

George Solomon: We're doing more NASCAR coverage all the time. Liz Clarke is a terrific auto racing writer.

San Francisco, Ca.: What would be the top five most significant sports stories The Post has covered in the time you have been there? Any regrets or reflection on those top five?

George Solomon: My memory is short; that's why we have an electronic library. I get excited every week over something; but I really love the Olympics.

Gaithersburg, Md.: Tony Kornheiser vs. Michael Wilbon: Who is your favorite?

George Solomon: That's like asking onetime Yankee manager Ralph Houk in 1961 whom he liked better, Mantle or Maris?

Arlington, Va. : You have lived in the area for many years. How do you explain the depth of feeling for the Redskins? This is a club that hasn't made the playoffs in a number of years, yet still has a waiting list of 40,000 people seemingly eager to buy incredibly-overpriced tickets?

George Solomon: Always has been one of the few aspects of culture in town that interests everyone. Big success from the beginning with Sammy Baugh; Sonny Jurgensen in the 1960s, George Allen's teams in the 1970s, Joe Gibbs and John Riggins and Art Monk in the 1980s and carryover in the 1990s, after the championship season of 1991.

Silver Spring, Md.: Which of the Redskins' Super Bowl teams had the most talent? Which was the most fun to cover?

George Solomon: All different; all fun to watch and cover.

Arlington, Va.: I just want to say that I enjoy the soccer coverage in the Post. During the Women's World Cup, William Gildea and Amy Shipley joined Steven Goff in covering the sport well. Will we see more articles by Ms. Shipley and perhaps eventually a regular soccer column by Mr. Gildea?

George Solomon: I too loved our World Cup coverage and I'm glad you did. You'll see those folks covering soccer.

Potomac, Md.: What do you think the prospects are of baseball returning to D.C. next season – or in the immediate future? How much does Peter Angelos handicap D.C.'s pursuit for a team?

George Solomon: I've covered, watched and edited this particular story for 27 years. I'm a cynic. It does not appear Major League Baseball wants a team in Washington. See story, Friday, July 23. And, Peter Angelos does not want a team in D.C./Northern Virginia.

Silver Spring, Md.: What do you think of the Washington Times sports section, particularly their improved Sunday edition? Does The Post have any plans to give you more space, other than that earmarked for high schools?

George Solomon: The Washington Times has a very good sports section.

Washington, D.C.: Do you think DC United will bring the MLS Cup back to DC? And do you think they have a decent shot at repeating as CONCACAF champions this fall?

George Solomon: D.C. United has a terrific team when all its players are present. They can win everything.

Fairfax City, Va.: When will we begin seeing more of your columnists doing online discussions like this one? Wilbon has been on a couple of times and a great time was had by all. Any chance Tony Kornheiser and Thomas Boswell will follow?

George Solomon: If they wish.

St. Louis, Mo.: I am a D.C. native, now living in St. Louis, but I read the on-line version of the Post every day. I have not seen anything by Michael Wilbon in the last two weeks. Is he on leave, vacation, or is this a problem with the website? Thanks.

George Solomon: Wilbon is on vacation. Back week of August 2, when Boswell and Tony go on vacation.

Bethesda, Md.: What gives with all the "international" coverage in recent months? How many cricket aficionados are there in Hyattsville, anyway?

George Solomon: Trying to please our international readers.

Hedgesville, W.Va.: How will coverage of the Orioles change in The Post if the Washington area gets a major league team?

George Solomon: We would still cover the Orioles.

Bowie, Md.: Does the fact that this is a town without a star make your job a little less interesting?

George Solomon: We can't create stars: Nevertheless, I consider Kolzig and Bondra stars; Richmond , Strickland and Howard stars, Ripken is a star, so is Darrell Green. Several D.C. Uniteds are stars; Mystics have two stars.

Silver Spring, Md.: How many games – pro, college, high school – do you attend each year as a fan?

George Solomon: Too many.

Arlington, Va.: Has the Women's World Cup had any impact on your coverage plans for women's events? Say, college basketball?

George Solomon: We continue to increase our coverage of women's sports.

Washington, D.C.: Can you explain to me all the hubub about Brandi Chastain and her "method of celebration" in taking off her jersey after scoring the winning penalty kick in the World Cup? I think coverage of her and the women's soccer team in general has focused a lot – though not solely – on what they look like, and that inherently detracts from their abilities as athletes. Do you think that's because of the predominance of male sports writers, or is it a sign of how far women's sports have to go before everyone takes them seriously?

George Solomon: You have the wrong newspaper regarding your comments on the emphasis on coverage of women's soccer. We're innocent of what you say.

Falls Church, Va.: Thank you for the great coverage of soccer – particularly of DC United and the Men's National Team. Keep up the good work, and feel free to devote even more print space to the game.

My question is, where do you envision newcomer Chris Albright fitting into United's squad? In midfield or as forward?

George Solomon: Ask Steve Goff, our D.C. United reporter.

Arlington, Va.: Why does the Post emphasize Georgetown and Maryland sports at the expense of other local schools such as George Washington? You do well enough on game stories but seem to overplay the Terps and Hoyas in the non-game stories.

George Solomon: Georgetown and Maryland have over the years done better than George Washington. But George Washington is moving up fast and we have increased our coverage.

Centreville, Va.: Do you think the Orioles actually have a chance at making the postseason?

George Solomon: No.

Arlington, Va.: What area athlete do you admire the most and why?

George Solomon: Darrell Green and Cal Ripken

Alexandria, Va.: I find it interesting that shortly after Charley Casserly is given the boot the barriers to the Champ Bailey deal mysteriously fall and he is signed. This strikes me as the kind of nonsense that went on all through Casserly's tenure. We have lost so many players, seemingly as a result of Casserly, that it's no wonder the Redskins play the way they do. And even with the signing of Bailey, we still have a very questionable quarterback in Brad Johnson, again another example of Casserly's personnel decisions.

Do you think that the person Snyder hired to replace Casserly can make any difference in the Redskins this year, or are we destined to suffer for a while until this guy can make some smart hiring decisions?

George Solomon: You sound as though Casserly is the sole reason for the Redskins' misfortunes these past six years. Not true. Turner had major input in the high draft picks. Casserly, over the years, did pretty well in signings. The Cookes called the shots on Shuler and Westbrook holdouts, not Casserly.

Washington, D.C.: What do you think of the WNBA's chances for success? Seems to have generated more enthusiasm than past attempts at a women's basketball league. Think this is just a better time, with more people interested?

George Solomon: They have a very good chance of succeeding. Crowds are good; play is good. Fans like it.

Ashburn, Va.: I am a life long Northern Virginia resident and I have read the Post for 25 years. Over the last 5 years I have seen soccer and NASCAR coverage increase. This is fantastic, but these articals are never more than a paragraph or two unless you are doing a spec. feature. Would you consider contracting to a publication that covers these sports more in depth and run there article? Sorta like other papers run Tony and Michael's columns or when you print an artical authoured by the Associated Press?

George Solomon: We are constantly trying to do more NASCAR coverage.

Alexandria, Va.: Why do you admire Cal Ripken and Darrell Green? There are plenty of reasons to like them, but why specifically?

George Solomon: Their performances over the years and the way they conduct themselves.

Washington, D.C.: Re: women's soccer. With all due respect, you didn't answer my question. Even if the Post didn't always talk about the women soccer players' looks, you must have an opinion about the coverage they received in general. Do you think that emphasis arises out of the predominance of male sports writers, or do you think women's sports have a long way to go before they're treated the same way as others?

George Solomon: Amy Shipley treated the women's soccer team the same as she treated the men's. So did Bill Gildea. I'll stand by their work.

Bethesda, Md.: What happened to the full page of soccer every week?

George Solomon: Every Friday. Sometimes because of space restrictions, it's not always a full page.

Richmond, Va.: Kudos for the great soccer coverage over the last few years particularly the near daily sports brief on page 2. I have found a certain resentment of soccer, its culture, its "lack of scoring", etc. by the sports establishment. Is this a situation where America loves winners and until the American men can win a World Cup or the MLS can average 40,000 people baseball writers or football analysts are going to put on airs.

George Solomon: Soccer has to compete against pro football, baseball, pro basketball and hockey in the U.S. That's tough competition.

Woodbridge, Va.: I enjoy your sports coverage; however, Would your paper consider expanding the American Legion Baseball coverage south of the Occoquan River? There's a district tournament going on right now; in fact, a Woodbridge Post 364 game ended Monday morning at 2:40am! Yet, no coverage at all was given by your newspaper. Whaddya say?

George Solomon: Call Jon DeNunzio at 202-334-7350. And why did they let the kids play so late?

Washington, D.C.: What advice do you have for college students interested in getting into sports reporting? Is it there a fast track to sports journalism? Or is it like becoming a doctor where everyone has to go to med school, before they can specialize further?

George Solomon: Write me at the Post and I'll respond when I can.

Springfield, Va.: Why is the local media so easy on the management of local sports teams? The Wizards, Caps and Redskins seem to get off so easy for all the mistakes they've made in the last several years.

George Solomon: Ask the management of the Wizards, Caps and Redskins if we were as easy as you think.

Washington, D.C.: George, Sports has long been seen a section of the newspaper that has and caters to a predominantly male audience. But with the all the attention generated by the Women's World Cup win as well as the Mystics, is the Post doing anything specific to try to attract more women and other nontraditional readers to its sports pages?

George Solomon: We cover more women's sports all the time.

Lexington, Ky.: Hi there. I would like to know how The Post can in good conscience advertise at MCI Center and Jack Kent Cooke Stadium and purport to be objective in their coverage of the Redskins and the Wizards? Isn't just the appearance of a conflict of interest enough to quell such a practice?

George Solomon: That's the promotional part of the newspaper and not the news side. It plays no part whatsoever in how we cover the teams. That's all the time we have with George Solomon today. We'd like to thank him for fielding a wide variety of questions. Join us again next week for another edition of Sports Online.

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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