The Times & Transcript, Moncton’s daily newspaper (circulation of around 40k) recently published this article on the awesomely named Jazzmar Ferguson. It’s a pretty standard fluff piece giving some background on a new signing, but boy-howdy did the reporter fail to do even the most basic research and chose to just try to hype up Jazzmar. The poor research surfaces in this paragraph:
Ferguson helped Indiana University Southeast capture the conference title and advance to the March Madness national championship tournament in each of his four seasons there. This tournament, which expanded from 64 to 68 teams in 2011, is one of America’s highest profile sporting events.
During his time there, his school lost in the first round of the tournament twice, advanced to the final 16 teams once and made it to the final eight survivors once.
Ferguson, 6-foot-1 and 170 pounds, led the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics in three-point shots made per game last season. Now, he’s is ready for a new adventure.
So what’s wrong here? The obvious problem is that March Madness is the name of the 68 team NCAA Division 1 championship tournament, and as the author accidentally points out IU-Southeast plays in the NAIA, not any division of the NCAA. It might seem like splitting hairs but while division 1 of the NCAA is inarguably the premier amateur basketball circuit in the league in terms of both talent and exposure and March Madness is one of the most watched sporting tournaments in North America the NAIA is not nearly as competitive nor as popular.
The NAIA’s first division is a strange mix players but is generally about on par with the NCAA second division. No one watches their championship tournament unless they know someone playing in it or go to a small mid-western college participating in it. It is definitely not “one of America’s highest profile sporting events.” The NAIA tournament is also only a 32 team tournament, not a 68 team one. So pointing out that Ferguson helped IU-Southeast advance to the final 16 is a lot less impressive when you realize that they won just one tournament game to get there. I get that it’s “just basketball” but it’s also sloppy reporting, particularly in an age where these things are just a google search away. Fans expect and deserve accurate reporting and I almost don’t blame the author: he likely had too many other stories to write and is not a basketball writer. I blame a chain of newspapers owned by the the family of New Brunswick Robber Barons who have broke unions, shipped personal wealth over seas, intimidated reporters at other papers and basically bought up the entire province. If simple mistakes like this are being made in the sports section how much can you trust the paper to critically report on the hard news in Moncton, particularly those involving their basses?
Jazzmar Ferguson might be a great player (there have been some good NAIA players in the minors) but the profile of him in today’s Times & Transcript doesn’t accurately describe his achievements, and that’s dishonest, lazy and unfair to Ferguson, The Miracles and their fans.