Think Before You Write
While our primary focus is on Cleveland sports hear at Red Right 88 headquarters, we occasionally offer insight and opinion on European football, most notably over the summer with the World Cup and, when time permits, our favorite English team, Liverpool.
There’s much we love about the beautiful game, from the passion of the fans, to the songs, the stadiums, relegation, the fact that the game works well and is available on TV in high definition and, unlike some American sports (baseball) it is fairly easy to pick up the basics and follow what’s going on pretty quickly. And the fact that the game is foreign just makes it more interesting.
We picked up the game during the 2006 World Cup and started following Liverpool shortly after. And because we’ve only been a fan for a short time, we tread carefully when we write about the game. We try to stick to games, players we like, things like that. One area we work hard to avoid is diving too far into the darker parts of the sport’s history. Frankly, we’re so new to the sport that it would be foolish to do so, as we just don’t have the depth of knowledge as fans who have been following teams for generations – literally in the case of Liverpool as the team was founded in 1892.
And the one area we would never feel qualified to discuss is the Hillsborough tragedy, where 96 Liverpool supporters lost their lives during a game against Nottingham Forest.
Unfortunately, Alex Beam of The Boston Globe has no such reservations.
In a column, Hardball in Liverpool, Beam writes about how John Henry’s New England Sports Ventures (owners of the Red Sox) are still in the early stages of its ownership of Liverpool. The point of the column seems to be to grind an axe against NESV. Beam writes that:
In a lengthy interview with one of the fan sites, Redandwhitekop.com (kop refers to a part of Anfield stadium), Henry confined himself to boilerplate Belispeak: “This club needs everyone on the same page every day. Every day. We need everyone focused on what needs to be done in the next match facing us and during that match,’’ blah blah blah. He comes across as bloodless and dispassionate, talking about soccer in the same breath as his auto racing interests and baseball — one management template for all. That kind of talk won’t sit well by the Mersey, believe me.
But then, inexplicably, Beam goes off the rails and brings up Hillsborough, classifying it as a riot:
The few sane people I have talked to about Liverpool understand that these are early days for New England Sports Ventures and that meaningful changes probably won’t come until Liverpool’s season ends in May. None of those sane people are in Liverpool, however. Even by the deranged standards of European soccer, Red fans are totally bonkers. Their excitable Internet fan sites are still agonizing over a 21-year-old soccer stadium riot that killed 96 people. One website, Thisisanfield.com, is publishing yet another exhaustive history of the incident, and still actively promotes a boycott of Rupert Murdoch’s tabloid The Sun, two decades after the paper accused Liverpool fans of pickpocketing the corpses, and other outrages.
Why you would bring up a tragedy that killed 96 people when you clearly have no idea what you’re talking about? And why would you judge a fan base for mourning the loss of their own? What purpose does that serve, other than to broadcast your ignorance to everyone?
Needless to say, the outrage over the article was quick. Rather than run a retraction or, better yet, an apology, The Globe ran a correction:
Because of a reporting error, Alex Beam’s column on Tuesday in the “g” section mischaracterized the 1989 Hillsborough stadium disaster involving Liverpool soccer fans as a “riot.” The official investigation into the disaster, which cost 96 lives, placed the blame primarily on poor crowd control and inadequate stadium design.
OK, we know we’re just a fan blog and have nowhere near the reach or influence of a newspaper such as The Globe. But once upon a time we were a working journalist and we still carry those standards with us. We try to have fun here, but we also work hard to be accurate when we write.
And, most importantly, we think before we write. Clearly those same standards are not in play at The Boston Globe, which paints a sad portrait of the state of journalism in this country.
If you want to learn more about what happened that day at Hillsborough, visit This is Anfield for its series of articles about the tragedy.