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RE: Rutgers Prez defense: Steve, you missed the point

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After Robert Barchi went to the defense of the Women’s Soccer team in light of a questionable headline, Steve Politi offered a response. We have one, too.

Rutgers Announces Move to Big Ten Conference Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Uh oh.

There’s an old, somewhat crude gem of folk wisdom that goes, “You don’t get into a pissing contest with a skunk.”

But heeding that wisdom doesn’t get clicks.

You know the situation; we wrote about it the other day highlighting Barchi’s response to the story and the headline. Well, nj.com’s Steve Politi felt that the response by Barchi was off base and uneccessary. He wrote:

It was not a team that needed a pat on the head, which is what Barchi's letter amounts to.

Is that what you read in that letter, Steve? That the women needed a pat on the head? Don’t tell that to my daughters. Either one of them, because with a condescending attitude like that they’ll kick your ass. Each one taking turns. Because they can stand on their own.

And so can the women’s soccer team. It happens to be the best team that Rutgers is fielding right now. And still negativity. The fact that they happen to be women isn’t the issue. Although “a pat on the head” might be.

Robert Barchi, or whomever it was in the administration, felt that it was time to say, ‘Hey, media, can we report things a little more positively than you’ve been doing?’ You, know, maybe avoid the backhanded compliments and insults that draw clicks to the website. Maybe he and the folks in the Rutgers administration finally had to say, enough.

And why the women’s soccer team, asked Steve? Why not the other teams? What, like volleyball that you and the rest of the media barely mention? Or how about football - they’re having a rough stretch?

Did he write to express his outrage at the several headlines excoriating the football team for its poor performance against Indiana this weekend? Or when we pointed out that the wrestling team fell short of its expectations in the NCAA Championships a year ago? Or when we wrote that basketball player Myles Mack airballed a layup two seasons ago?

RE: Football and it’s “poor” performance. Hey, call it like you see it. But wrestling?

“...we pointed out that the wrestling team fell short of its expectations in the NCAA Championships”. But they didn’t fail, Steve, they had success and that was pointed out in the Star-Ledger’s own headlines:

On March 18:

Again on the 18th:

On March 19:

And in pointing out the loss by Ashnault, it isn’t some cutesy, “Oh no, he didn’t make it”. It deals with it as if he’s an Athlete. He fell. And the next day he was back. Moving forward.

Sadly, as fans and alums and citizens of New Jersey, we’re used to this.

Bottom line? It was the tone. Instead of ‘they made it so far after being the seventh seed’ (from all those ties and all the tired legs from all those ties) it was, whoops, we missed again.

But the team did lose, for a third time in four years, in a conference tournament title game. If the men's basketball team did that — hey, optimism is contagious — you can bet that the headline would mention it.

Mention it. Not lead with it. Not make it the focus, the headline. Your words, not mine.

Writers at various media outlets have said pretty consistently that they want Rutgers to succeed as much as anyone, because a successful team will draw readers. And maybe they do want RU to win. But the way they express that desire, the way they sometimes write about the school and the teams, makes you wonder.