The best thing about having a team-issued credential to cover the Lightning is that I'm a Lightning fan, and I like to believe that being a credentialed member of the media allows me to be an ambassador on behalf of fellow fans who will never get to experience the game of hockey that way. Through this weekly column, I'll be sharing peeks behind the magical media curtain with you. Today, we're going to talk about decorum and proper conduct.
A strongly held edict in sports journalism is that there is no cheering in the press box. It’s a big fat no-no, maybe the biggest, fattest no-no there is. It’s been commented on here at SB Nation, and esteemed sports journalist Jerome Holtzman wrote a book back in 1973 under the title “No Cheering In The Press Box”.
The reason why is pretty obvious if not downright self-evident: it’s a professional work environment. Serious business is taking place — the serious business of writing about games being played. It’s not a place for rooting interests, painting your face, hooting and hollering with your friends. If you want to do that kind of nonsense, go down in the stands with the fans (italics used in this case to express a condescending disdain for those things, sort of like a sneer in text form). This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco, and foolin’ around is to be kept to a minimum, bub.
This presents something of a challenge to those of us in the press box who are fans, which I assume is actually most of us. Whether or not they’ll admit as much on record, virtually every local sportswriter wants the home team to do well, if for no other reason than a winning team is generally a happy team and it’s soooo much easier to cover a happy team than an unhappy one. Whether or not they’d ever call themselves fans (see previous remark regarding italics), I’d wager that a vast majority of sportswriters is hoping the teams they cover win a lot more often than they lose.
Me? Sure, I’m a fan (notice the lack of italics) but I’m also compliant when it comes to following the rules and avoiding the big fat no-no’s because I hate getting fired from jobs I enjoy. That’s why I invented the “Under-The-Counter-Fist-Pump” and here’s how it works:
- The Lightning score a goal.
- Reach down under the counter with my right arm like I’m scratching my ankle or picking up a delicious Cuban sandwich that fell on the floor (Five Second Rule!).
- Look around quickly to make sure nobody’s looking.
- Thrust my right arm forward in a jabbing motion like delivering a Bruce Lee-style death blow.
- Return to upright and locked position.
- Resume writing about the game.
I can’t speak for anybody else up there, but that’s how I cheer without cheering in the press box.