Yes, it does sound ironic that "unsportsmanlike conduct" has to be called on Tony Kornheiser for his rendering of Ken Beatrice (in the true butchering sense) in his recent article. It certainly was not a balanced treatment of the "facts," a favorite work of Kornheiser's. It probably should have been reviewed more thoroughly before being published in that form. (What a contrast with David DuPree's very insightful series on CBA basketball, past Post articles on John Thompson, etc.) Let's review some of those same "facts," from the standpoint of myself and my family who have listened and called into Ken Beatrice since his coming to Washington. We have been "turned on" to sports talk shows because of him.
Even though Ken Beatrice was very nervous and insecure during the interview (of eight hours?), that behavior was thoroughly taken out of context. iAssuming Ken Beatrice is an entertainer, which is questionable, many other entertainers (such as Paul Simon at the recent Grammy awards, other singers, and comedians) also are highly ill at ease, insecure, incoherent and reluctant to talk about themselves. Do we think any less of them? What is wrong about a person being highly fulfilled by a profession, and being ill at ease when out of it? As William Rasberry essentially said in his Feb. 25 column, the public doesn't value that personal behavior, but rather what's being provided by the entertainer.
Suggesting ("reporting?") that Ken Beatrice knows everything, and is afraid and/or emotionally shaken to admit he does not know something, is both incorrect and again out of context. The true "fact" is that Ken Beatrice has repeatedly admitted that he didn't have a particular fact at his fingertips, and that he doesn't memorize things that he can look up (such as tournament pairings). On numerous occasions, he asked callers to reach him at his office, and even volunteered his phone number for that purpose. He's also mentioned things on the air which he had to look up and now, one or more evenings later, was mentioning for that caller. He also has thanked other callers for filling in facts he wasn't able to supply (such as the final outcome of a basketball game or hockey game). He's also readily admitted that he didn't have the time to watch and follow high school basketball games. Does that sound like a rigid and inflexible person who must manufacture facts?
Even being called a workaholic is misleading, as it may represent a desire to succeed in that profession with the best possible performance. Is that an inappropriate goal? Here, too, it could have been mentioned that radio station WMAL probably had a lot to do with Ken Beatrice's hours and days increasing so much; he didn't do that alone. Surely that information could have been supplied the reader for the sake of fairness, since over five columns were allocated.
The article repeatedly stressed the many inaccuracies in the facts Ken provides. Again this is both shortsighted and inaccurate. If just facts were desired by listeners, most of them long ago would have turned to a sports almanac. Instead, Ken Beatrice provides both facts and logical or reasoned opinions which are well-grounded in those same facts. Apparently, Kornheiser has not listened to Ken's discussions with local college and professional sports team general managers and coaches, nor the give-and-take discussions with knowledgeable sports fans. None of these, as far as I can remember, has challenged his being off base.
His not having a doctoral degree or scouting service is a trifle unsettling to me, but it doesn't really matter since his talk show dosen't rely on having such a degree. What does matter is that Ken is very expressive, has a high command of the English language and is erudite. Isn't that more relevant to a talk-show host? given these qualities, his skill in retaining sports "facts" and developing sound opinions seems entirely feasible.
I don't believe the Ken Beatrice story "had to be told," as Dave Kindred insisted in the March 1 sports section. To paraphrase Kindred, the hell and the sensitivity were reported out of the story. It could easily succeed in driving away from Washington a person whose voracious enthusiasm and ability to communicate that interest to others probably brought more of them to care about and appreciate sports than any other sports talk show, past or present, in the area or perhaps the country.