For those who may have missed mentions in previous posts, I’m a certified USTA tennis official. In addition to writing duties for my website, I work ITA, pro Lines, some Chairs, and a ton of USTA “Roving”. I am a tennis official AND tennis media: a rare and odd marriage of tennis passions.
Though I haven’t discussed this duality much, it’s potentially tricky territory to navigate. (Check out my ‘Being Mohamed: My USTA Umpire Training and The Official’s Code of Conduct‘) According to the Code, officials should have no dealings with the media. But since I came into officiating through the media backdoor, that provision has been set aside out of necessity.
I’ve had several discussions with USTA higher-ups about this duality. For the most part, I feel that I’ve successfully allayed many of their concerns by demonstrating clear and obvious discretion with my tennis reporting/writing. To be honest though, it’s been easy to do since I mostly rove Adult, Junior, and ITA events. More to the point, there’s been absolutely no conflict between my officiating work and my media work/writing with respect to the pro tour.
However, all of that has changed now that I’m working as a Line Umpire. I’m on-court with players that I might later interview or write about in a future capacity as media. The potential for conflict is clear. Accordingly, my actions per the Code are also clear. I won’t write pieces about tournaments I work as a Line Umpire, and will avoid writing about players with whom I’ve been on court.
This explains my “radio silence” during the Carson tournament, and why you will experience the same radio silence during the Bank of the West, the Connecticut Open, and any other event that I might work. I love being a part of the battle, and don’t want to do anything that will jeopardize that involvement.
On the plus side, I’ll be writing more pieces on #TennisFitness, more racquet reviews (with hopefully a few more positive ones!), and more general tennis pieces that avoid any semblance of prior on-court knowledge.
But don’t worry. I’ll still write my usual Slam previews, and will continue to make errant round picks…unless I’m there on court. 🙂
(Note: Under the heading of “Stating the Obvious”, if ESPN, Sports Illustrated, or Tennis Channel came calling to hire me, there wouldn’t be much hesitation on my part.)