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New Jersey Goalie Martin Brodeur had a affair with his sister in law
Posted on Tue, May. 06, 2003
Writing a wrong didn't happen in Brodeur affair
By Stan Hochman
MARTIN Brodeur, superstar goalie, father of four young kids, splits with his wife right after Christmas. Nobody writes it. Brodeur gets involved in an affair with his sister-in-law, who has separated from her husband.
"Maybe it was a question of honor, a trait seldom attributed to our profession," wrote Sherry Ross, who covers the Devils for the New York Daily News, explaining why Brodeur's marital problems had gone unreported. "Maybe it was because whatever turmoil Brodeur is going through never manifested itself on the ice. Maybe it's because he is one of the true good guys in sports as far as our working relationship with him goes. Maybe it was wrong to bury it, but it just felt right."
Does that mean that if his goals-against average had zoomed over 3.8, Ross would have decided the whole sleazy scenario was getting to Brodeur and she would have written about it? Or if Brodeur had turned grumpy and nasty, snarling at questions about shorthanded goals, she would have written about it?
Has the new journalism decided that star players and "good guys" get to keep their messy private lives private, while goons and grumblers get their dirty laundry aired?
A French-language crime tabloid broke the story, never identifying Brodeur by name. Said that a Quebec-born goaltender was having an affair with his sister-in-law and was being asked for $9 million in alimony by his wife.
Le Journal de Montreal then confronted Brodeur and he admitted he was separated from his wife and that he had a relationship with his sister-in-law. Volunteered that his wife called him 2 hours before a game and taunted him with the news that she was going out on a date, with some guy Brodeur knew.
Brodeur then issued a statement after the second game of the Devils playoff series with the Lightning. "To all the people who knew about it and didn't say anything, I appreciate it," Brodeur said. "This is my personal life. I don't want to get bothered with it from now on."
Ross oozes sympathy, looking down the road, knowing what Brodeur will hear if the Devils "move on to play in a genteel city such as, oh, let's say Philadelphia."
Yo, Sherry, ever hear the line, "If you can't do the time, don't do the crime?" How about a variation on that theme: "If you can't stand the din, don't do the sin."
That brings up another disturbing angle to Ross' explanation of why the beat writers chose to ignore Brodeur's situation. Brodeur is human, except on the ice, where he resembles a stone wall.
"Maybe that's why some of us," Ross wrote, "with the capability for the same weaknesses, poor judgments, mistakes and compassion, were so reluctant to turn over this Devil's rock."
Brrrrack. Last time I looked, newspapers were not recruiting sports writers at monasteries. A sports writer's allegiance is to his newspaper and its readers and not to a player or the team he or she is covering. You're not casting first stones, you're reporting news.
And there's where it gets sticky. If a star goalie is doing the hokey-pokey with his sister-in-law and his wife is about to seek a huge sum of alimony in divorce proceedings that might get messier than spring break in Cancun, is that news or isn't it?
Those supermarket tabloids thrive on that kind of news,mostly about entertainers. There are television shows built around the scandalous behavior of Hollywood folks, gossip columns in Pulitzer prize-winning newspapers. With pro athletes being paid like show-biz stars, should they be immune from the same probing kind of reporting?
Do you wait until Brodeur gives up a couple of soft goals and the Devils lose a playoff game to the younger-than-springtime Lightning? Do hockey fans, especially Devils fans, really want to know what's happening to their heroes off the ice? Do they want that information only if it relates to visiting sick kids in hospitals?
You're probably weary of that argument about athletes as role models. What you want from your hometown heroes is a gutsy, sincere effort between the lines. Unless, of course, he's caught snorting lines between games. And then, you can't get enough of the story.
The beat writers could have turned the Brodeur story over to the news side of the paper, thus avoiding the clubhouse repercussions that were bound to follow. It's a chintzy way to do the job, but it beats burying a story that is screeching to be written.
And then there was the person who wrote the headline for Sherry Ross' column. "Marty all class in le scandale." Huh? Based on what happened, Brodeur couldn't spell class if you spotted him the CL.
To follow on from Bobby's question:
Stan Hochman is a long time Philadelphia sports writer. While I realize that may have a negative connotation in and of itself, Hochman is one of the few objective writers left in the area. Hochman is a throwback to a day when the sportswriters were the experts and the reading public were slave to their observations.
I believe what Hochman is pointing out is the subjectiveness of his fellow press. Sherry Ross hints in her comments that if Brodeur were less of a goalie then it would be news worth printing. Certainly when Theo Fleury's off-ice escapades affected his play it was worth reporting.
I don't enjoy reading about what athletes do outside of the playing arena. But I don't believe it should be up to the press to censor what I have to read either. If the story is there they have an obligation to report it, not decide what is reported and what isn't. I then have the option to bypass, ignore or show interest in the article.
Oddly enough, it is this type of article I typically ignore. Nonetheless, the press has an obligation to report the facts as they are presented.