A recent event between Joe Thornton of the San Jose Sharks and Vancouver media has raised some questions towards the media-player relations and the policies that govern it. Jason Botchford published a quote by Thornton using inappropriate language and gestures after he disturbed a near by player interview.
In summary, Thornton interrupted a player interview and started defending rookie teammate Thomas Hertl by inappropriately describing how he would celebrate a four goal performance. The issues being raised in response to this PR nightmare is the media’s decision to publish “locker room talk” and quoting players who are “off air”. Now, the Vancouver Canucks 2013-14 Media Guidelines states that all members must “… act with honesty and integrity, to engage in factual and accurate reporting..” as well as to “… be aware that they will be held to the same standards of conduct whether providing services for an accredited organization or acting individually…”. It doesn’t seem as if Botchford broke any official rule or policy in fact, Botchford believes he was acting in the right and said via twitter “Thornton shouted it to 20 reporters. If I don’t report that, I’m called to the carpet.”. While Botchford may have crossed an ethical line he did not in fact break any rule and argues if he didn’t publish the quote someone else would have. This raises the question of whether or not there should be more strict policies on player-media relations.
Should media members know the difference between an interview and “locker room talk”? There is a “code” that many feel Botchford crossed and is why this quote has cause such controversy (except the fact that it’s hilarious). On the other hand one could very well argue that the locker-room is a work space when it is open to the media and that players would be naive to think in 2013 what he says openly to a group of reporters would not be tweeted, blogged or aired. It will be interesting to see if any other player-media controversies occur in the future especially with the popular HBO 24.7 series and whether or not the NHL has to create more policies around this issue. What do you think? Was Jason Botchford off side? Or is Jumbo Joe to blame for making the hockey world laugh.