Manleywoman Skating Podcast #64: Phil Hersh interview

Discussion in 'Great Skate Debate' started by manleywoman, May 2, 2013.

  1. manleywoman

    manleywoman podcast mistress

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    In the latest Manleywoman SkateCast, I interviewed Phil Hersh, the Olympic sports writer for the Chicago Tribune and the Tribune company. I know people here love to rag on him, but I really hope you all listen to this interview. His enthusiasm for the sport is surprisingly infectious, he's frighteningly knowledgeable about skating and music, and he tells some great stories about covering skating. I agree with those who think his coverage of the sport uses an unnecessarily dismissive tone . . . criticism is fine by me, but I think he sometimes makes covering skating sound like a chore . . . which is why I was surprised and impressed by his genuine love for the sport. But I also am thankful he gives the sport the mainstream media attention when it sorely needs it. I loved talking with him in person.

    Additionally we cover:

    • His opinions on the outcomes of Michelle vs Tara, Nancy vs. Oksana, and SP vs B/S
    • His friendly rivalry with Christine Brennan
    • What he thinks about FSU :p
    • His opinion of Michelle Kwan (spoiler: he's impressed)
    • His thoughts on judging, and Patrick Chan at Worlds 2013

    . . . and a whole lot more. We spoke for 90 minutes!

    Enjoy the interview! It will also be available via the iTunes Store shortly. Thanks
    Last edited: May 2, 2013
  2. ehdtkqorl123

    ehdtkqorl123 New Member

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    Thanks a lot!! :)
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  3. IceIceBaby

    IceIceBaby New Member

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    The link doesn't work for me?

    ETA: The first link worked. Now I'm going to listen it!
  4. Sylvia

    Sylvia Whee, summer club comps!

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  5. manleywoman

    manleywoman podcast mistress

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    Fixed the second link. Thanks for the heads up!

    One of my favorite parts is his ideas on the judging. A quote:
    Last edited: May 2, 2013
  6. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

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    I've downloaded the podcast and I'm really looking forward to listening.
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  7. Clay

    Clay Active Member

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    He gets bonus points for mentioning British judge Vanessa Riley. :lol: That would be a great interview.
  8. ehdtkqorl123

    ehdtkqorl123 New Member

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    If you want to criticize me, do it under your real name! lol
  9. Maofan7

    Maofan7 Away

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    Fantastic - thank you ever so much!
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  10. dardar1126

    dardar1126 Well-Known Member

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    I'm about half way through the interview, and I gotta say I LIKE this guy! :) He's knowledgeable, passionate, and, yes, a bit blunt, but I like that more than wishy-washy.
  11. ehdtkqorl123

    ehdtkqorl123 New Member

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    Ditto
  12. kittyjake5

    kittyjake5 Well-Known Member

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    Thank you so much! I will listen when I get home from work. What a treat!
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  13. semogal

    semogal Well-Known Member

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    Congrats on a wonderful interview. When I noticed the length of the interview I thought I would listen to half of it and come back. But once I started listening the time flew by and at the end I wanted more!
  14. dardar1126

    dardar1126 Well-Known Member

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    Really enjoyed this interview! So nice of Mr. Hersh to give such a long, detailed, and informative chat. I come away from it liking him as a person, and respecting him as a professional. :cool:
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  15. Iceman

    Iceman Well-Known Member

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    Re posting anonymously: Say my real name is Adam LeCleur and I posted under that name-------no one here or Phil would know who the H**L I was. So what is gained.
  16. Skittl1321

    Skittl1321 Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, that is true.

    I've used the same name on the internet for about 15 years. I've met many people from the internet, and posted videos and pictures of myself. My screenname is linked to my facebook account. Even though most people on here have no idea who I am, I don't consider anything I say to be anonymous, because it can very easily be linked to me.


    I thought Phil's interview was excellent. I wish he would have addressed his snarky comments on Twitter a bit more fully. Does he not see how it could be pretty hurtful when he writes a snarky comment about X and tweets @X? That's like sending someone a letter telling them they suck! And he says he uses twitter for networking, to contact athletes.
    Last edited: May 2, 2013
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  17. orbitz

    orbitz Well-Known Member

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    You be surprised how much personal information about yourself can be found on the internet. Supposed someone was extremely offended by what you wrote. That person through the internet can find out where you live, work, etc. and make it known to the people around you what you've posted, for example. People write a lot of really crazy stuffs on those entertainment pages; I bet they wouldn't be doing that if they were using their real names.
  18. manleywoman

    manleywoman podcast mistress

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    Don't forget he gets comments from about 40+ of other sports fans, message boards, facebook, etc. Skating is only one sport he covers. So I imagine he gets a fair percentage of anonymous comments/mail from various places. And he's not going to spend his time researching everyone's real identity.
  19. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

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    I believe he loves and respects skating, just as we do.
    Thank you, Mr Hersh.
    Thank you, Allison.
  20. ehdtkqorl123

    ehdtkqorl123 New Member

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    And his voice was sweet :)
  21. fenway2

    fenway2 Well-Known Member

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    Fun interview. Thanks. Unless I missed something, either a follow-up question, or him clarifying, he said "at the time" he thought :oksana1: had won. Did her change his mind? I did listen to the entire interview but I may have missed something because he tends to go off-course during storytelling. :rofl:
  22. dardar1126

    dardar1126 Well-Known Member

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    My understanding is that he still thinks Oksana won, Christine Brennan thinks Nancy won, and they've had passionate "discussions" over it. ;)
  23. CantALoop

    CantALoop Well-Known Member

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    Amazing interview! :40beers: Cheers to you and Phil, I have much more respect for him now after this interview...and that he mentioned us. :cheer: :p
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  24. Maofan7

    Maofan7 Away

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    Just listened to the interview and what a great interview it is. What really came across is what a huge fan Phil is of the sport. I also think he was absolutely spot on about COP/IJS. Well said, Phil!
  25. allezfred

    allezfred Prick Admin Staff Member

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    Still too much "IJS is way toooooooooooo HAAAAAAAAAAAARD to understand". :drama:

    He also contradicts himself by opining that ice dance judging used to be so predictable and how great it is now that there is movement and then complains that the Shibutanis are marked differently from one year to next. Make up your mind Phil. :p
  26. Simone411

    Simone411 aka IceSkate98

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    I knew Phil liked figure skating, but I didn't know just how much until now. My opinion has changed somewhat because of this interview, and I find that I do like him more than what I did in the past. Thank you, manleywoman for sharing this latest interview. It's very much appreciated. :)
  27. fenway2

    fenway2 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks. I know he said he thought Tara deserved to win and Christine thought (surprise surprise) that Michelle should have won, but I missed that part about arguing over Oksana/ Nancy. I was thrown by his phrase "at the time." Why use that phrase if you still believe it today? Anyway.
  28. dardar1126

    dardar1126 Well-Known Member

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    Now I'm wondering if I got the two stories confused. :confused: Maybe Allison can clarify.

    EDIT: Sorry, guess I did confuse them. :slinkaway
  29. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

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    He was talking about Tara vs Michelle in the 1998 Olympics.
  30. N_Halifax

    N_Halifax Active Member

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    I haven't had chance to sit down & listen yet but I can't wait. Have a lot of appreciation & respect for the hard work you do, Allison! :)
  31. fenway2

    fenway2 Well-Known Member

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    Oh ok, thank you. That's what I thought. So unless I missed a follow-up question, which I may have since I listened to it at work, he never clarified if he still believes today that Oksana deserved the win.
  32. TwizzlerS

    TwizzlerS Well-Known Member

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    I thought he used the Oksana/Nancy story to say that he heard from the referee the next day and now he believes that the scores made sense. And, I think he has a very good point that the referee or some official should be interviewed after an event so we can know what went into the scoring.
  33. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

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    Yes, this would be helpful.

    I understand why the ISU wants to protect the judges from having to justify themselves to often hostile public opinion. But I think they could diminish the distrust by offering explanations.

    I remember reading an after-the-fact article with quotes from Britta Lindgren explaining the 1994 results. I don't remember -- maybe it was written by Hersh. I wanted to see more of that kind of thing.

    So under 6.0 conditions, I thought it would be a good idea to have the referee give a press conference after the post-event judges' meeting and summarize the reasoning for some of the top results.

    With IJS, the protocols give a lot of information, but not in a way that's easily accessible to most fans. And we still have to guess what the judges' thought processes might have been to arrive at the numbers especially the PCS.

    Certainly the technical controller or whole tech panel could be available to the press to answer questions about specific calls.

    Maybe they should go back to holding post-event debriefings between referee and judges, not designed to evaluate the judges but just to identify the important issues the factored into the PCS scoring, and then the ref could summarize those issues for the press afterward.

    Or let judges attend the same press conference themselves if they want to speak for themselves, and answer specific questions from the press. But then it could seem like individual judges lobbying the media, especially where national bias issues might be involved.

    I realize the timing would not be as quick as the press would like for filing results stories. But for next-day follow-up stories about major events, explanations from the judges, directly or through the referee, and then of course filtered through the journalists, could be very informative to casual fans who otherwise wouldn't have much idea about what judges are considering when they award those scores.

    Hm, or maybe, instead of using the ref and journalists as two levels of intermediaries, if the ISU had their own PR person attend the meeting and then put out a summary press release with quotes from judges who agree to be quoted, that might minimize some of the potential political complications.
  34. Jun Y

    Jun Y Well-Known Member

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    I can think of at least one important reason why no one at ISU wants to routinely hold press conferences or public Q&A sessions to explain their decisions and results. What if the tech panel and/or judges made mistakes and are confronted with them in such a public setting? An immediate example I can think of is Caroline Zhang's massive downgrades at this year's nationals. I can imagine how press and/or coaches, skaters, etc. publicly raise questions about certain decisions and prove judges or tech specialists to be wrong or potentially wrong. And I bet unresolved controversies and arguments will happen a lot if you provide the opportunity (although perhaps such controversies might improve the TV ratings). Routinely giving the public an opportunity to question and/or scrutinize judges/tech specialists would more likely decrease, rather than increase, the credibility of figure skating establishment.

    Nearly all competitive sports suffer from visible and invisible, definite and ambiguous judging mistakes, including basketball and soccer, sometimes in the most important competitions such as World Cup finals. Decisions must be made real time and not be messed with after the competition. Soccer fans know what an imperfect system it is and live with it. Some improvements in rules have been made over the years, but referees are never put to public interrogation, unless one is proven to be corrupt.

    Imagine, what if a decision or result is proven wrong after the competition? What if the referee or judges are faced with evidence of incompetence, inconsistent practice, bias or favoritism, or plain mistakes? If a few GOEs and component scores are clearly wrong, should these mistakes be corrected after the competition?

    Of course, I would LOVE to know the error rate of any given competition and any given international skating judge. However, I can totally see why the ISU does not want to know it.
    Last edited: May 3, 2013
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  35. fenway2

    fenway2 Well-Known Member

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    In baseball, umpires talk to the media. A few years ago some pitcher was denied a perfect game on a bad ruling by an umpire and later that umpire told the press "I screwed up." The pitcher and umpire met later, the umpire apologized and the pitcher said there were no hard feelings. That story generated a lot of interest for the sport, especially because the umpire was so honest about his mistake. The bad call stood by the way and the pitcher never got credit for a no-hitter.

    Edited to Add: The pitcher was Armando Gallarago from the Detroit Tigers and the umpire was Jim Joyce. Here he is at a press conference with reporters admitting that he messed up. http://youtu.be/_EmEiFgDf5I?t=55s
    Last edited: May 3, 2013
  36. jiggs

    jiggs Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Manleywoman for this interesting interview! One can definitely hear that he really loves the sport. I had no idea how long he has been covering figure skating competitions. Pretty impressive!
  37. Skittl1321

    Skittl1321 Well-Known Member

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    That case was especially egregious because they petitioned the league to have the call over turned (with support of the umpire and THE OTHER TEAM) and they still wouldn't make the call right.
  38. manleywoman

    manleywoman podcast mistress

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    Agreed. Tim Wood got the Olympic Silver medal in 1968 because of an admitted mistake. Nowadays that would result in the lost of millions of dollars in potential endorsement revenue. Changing results posthumously would open a million cans of worms.

    It was a terrible call. But again, tough to open that can of worms. How many other lawsuits would be started?
  39. B.Cooper

    B.Cooper Active Member

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    Personally, I think many of these issues that Hersh talks about could easily be addressed with multiple camera angles on the ice for the tech panels and judges to utilize for review of elements. One camera...in this era of technology? Really? What if skating evolved like tennis, where the coach/athlete/NGB can instantly call for a review of an element ? Almost all sports have gone to multiple angles of review for plays. And, with Canon as an ISU sponsor, it would seem a natural fit to update the technology to include more camera angles. And, one of the most obvious issues that would help resolve poor judgments in events...transparency. The officials judging the events would be held accountable for their marks. JMO.....

    I don't disagree with other posters that Hersh is passionate about the sport. What I don't like about his approach, is the "put an athlete up on a pedestal, and then let's pull them down, when things aren't going well". He has his favorites in the sports he covers, and he has made that quite clear over the years, but I would hope he would take more care in his presentation of the facts , which he doesn't always have correct, before he sends his work to his editors. I don't view Hersh as a true journalist....more of an op-ed kind of guy.
    Last edited: May 3, 2013
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  40. gkelly

    gkelly Well-Known Member

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    I can't imagine the ISU mandating multiple cameras for all IJS events anywhere at any level. But for ISU championships (and Olympics) it would make sense. Maybe senior Grand Prix. And federations with hotly contested, televised national championships would do well to include the option as well.

    In addition to one or more additional camera angles, for those major events there could also be another stage of error checking built in after the end of the event and before the results are finalized. Which would delay the medal ceremony. Not so much a problem for short programs.

    The athlete can't instantly call for a review because they're still in the middle of skating the program.

    If there were electronic displays of calls available to the coach/NGB during the program and during the reviews, or instant protocols (paper or electronic) made available to all of the above plus the skater after the program in the K&C, they could challenge specific calls at that time, to be reviewed at the end of the event before the results are finalized.

    The trick would be to allow for extra eyes and double checking in a reasonable time period while the competitors and spectators are waiting for the official results, without encouraging lots of back and forth between coaches who expected one level and tech panels who called a lower level, or threw out a whole element as a result of rule vetting. In these cases -- especially there may be rules that need to worded more clearly -- there could be disputes because of different interpretations or because of borderline eyeballed calls, even with different camera angles available. We don't want to encourage coaches to second guess every call just in hopes of overturning one every now and then. Second reviews should really only be for blatant errors or blatant confusion.

    From the journalist's point of view, seeing the protocols after watching the program can answer a lot of questions and prevent them from thinking that a program was "clean" if there were many downgraded jumps, etc. (Fortunately, the rules have changed so that jumps just over 90 degrees short that look clean in real time no longer lose a full rotation's worth of value.)

    But what I thought would be more informative than questioning the tech calls would be to get some public explanations of the component scores. There hasn't been a lot of explanation for the public about what judges are really considering -- I think that injecting those considerations into the public discourse will help fans and journalists understand better what those scores are about. And hopefully force the judges to do a better job of assigning the scores as they have to explain them.

    But to begin with, just make sure that the journalists aren't relying on their own untrained general knowledge to declare that the trained judges must be wrong when they disagree. Get everyone on the same page.
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