Media crucial to keeping sport on the right track

At the excellent Sports Journalists’ Association awards night this week, legendary US athlete Edwin Moses addressed the gathered throng on behalf of the Laureus Foundation, a charity fronted by some of the biggest names in sport.

The British public, he told the assembled writers, editors, photographers and sporting celebrities, is rightly acknowledged as being the best informed in the world on all matters sporting.

And the reason for that is, in no small part, due to the journalists who fill the back pages of their newspapers.

Even John McEnroe, no fan of the media in his days as a player, has come to accept that the role they play is crucial, Moses said.

His words on Monday night were timely. Just 24 hours earlier, the News of the World had done one of the things it does best, opening a sporting can of worms that will have immense repercussions for the world of horse racing.

Its team had caught champion jockey Kieren Fallon heavily tipping rival horses to win races in which he would be riding. In one such race, the horse he rode lost a seemingly unassailable lead to finish second to the rival he had tipped.

A classic tabloid sting, certainly, but a vital investigation for all the millions of punters whose money pours into a sport they expect to be run professionally and fairly.

With ever-increasing amounts of money from television and corporate sponsorship flooding the world of sport, fans need our sports journalists more than ever to keep the people who run them, and the stars who perform for them, honest.

As Moses suggests, as the quality of entries to the SJA awards proves, and as the NoW story rams home, it’s a part of our business that looks in pretty good shape.

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