Opinion

Sports journalism shows hometown bias

Those of you who keep up with high school football most likely have heard about the drama between Detroit Denby and Almont. Denby and Almont faced off in semifinals Saturday, Nov. 23. The game was called early due to excessive penalties on Denby’s part, Almont winning 36-8. After the game, Almont fans and band members allegedly provoked Denby players into attacking them.

And that’s what’s everyone has been talking about – how Almont started it.

No one’s talking about how there were cops at the game even before the fights broke out because Denby players had gotten into it with the team they played the previous weekend.

No one’s talking about how Denby players refused to shake hands with Almont players after the game because their coach
“couldn’t guarantee” Almont’s safety. No one’s talking about how Denby went into Walled Lake Central’s school, where the game was held, and damaged lockers and trophy cases. No one’s talking about how many threats Almont has received in the days since the game.

Why? Because the papers covering it in the first place, the papers that anyone cares about, are based in Detroit. They’re hardly going to show a home team in a negative light.

They aren’t going to mention that the person who may or may not have thrown “racial slurs” at Denby players after the game wasn’t associated with Almont.

They aren’t going to mention that Denby players were shoving Almont band members who just happened to be in their way.

They aren’t going to mention that video of Denby players climbing into the stands to attack Almont spectators.

They aren’t going to mention that the game officials commended Almont football players for keeping calm despite repeated illegal hits from the other team.

They aren’t going to mention that Almont had to take unmarked buses to finals and fans were told not to wear anything visibly Almont because Denby threatened to come to Ford Field and attack anyone wearing orange and black.

No, it’s all about what we did. We’re the white country hicks who drive tractors to school and throw racial slurs at visitors and feign innocence. Well, guess what? Almont never claimed to be innocent in all of this.

If Detroit Free Press and the other Detroit-based news stations cared to get to the bottom of it like any good reporter should, they would know that Almont promised to investigate. They would know that Denby isn’t as clean-cut as they’re painted.

You don’t get to play the victim-of-racism card if you’ve actually done something wrong. You don’t get to turn it around on us when we win fair-and-square.

Everything written in the papers has been taken so out-of-context, of course Almont is going to look x.

All because of biased journalism, our town’s reputation has been trashed.

They can’t take back what they said. They can’t even fix it with an apology.

And would they apologize? No. Not only are they biased, spinning the story to benefit their home team, they’re going to keep up the lies told in the original stories.

Thanks to local papers like the Romeo Rambler, we know Detroit Free Press and other papers are well aware of what their stories have done. They know that they’ve wrongly slandered an entire town.

But they can’t apologize, for risk of litigation and because it would be very bad for their business.

What about us? What about the entire town they slandered on state news? What about the football team who, even if they had won the state finals, would forever have it hanging over their heads that their victory came in the middle of this mess?

Not only are they writers of biased journalism, they’re writers of untruthful journalism.

They cannot sink lower than that.

24 replies »

  1. Thank you for this article!!! It’s a shame all the way around. Sadly I do feel my hometown will be tarnished from this for years to come but, we can only hold our heads high and come out of this sad situation even stronger. Thank you for helping spread the truth!

  2. Well written. Now, we ALL must not let this harden our hearts, but to strengthen our souls! We are a strong community and will prevail! Go Raiders!

  3. Great article Hannah!! I’m proud to have been your teacher…..”Ms. Benoit” Dorreen Rummler

  4. Excellent article. Thank you for showing “the other side of the story”.
    Clay Stroup, proud 1977 Almont alumni and former Raider player

  5. There is also a video made by a Denby supporter that actually shows Bob Burg (the counselor and assistant coach whose Facebook fan these flames) picking up a flag and stashing it in his pocket in an attempt to hide it from the refs. Only when the team was questioned by the refs did he throw it back at the refs. Of course, that resulted in a 15 yard bench penalty. It’s also worth noting that they were upset about the flag when it was clearly an illegal blind side block. I honestly think the coaches don’t know the rules and in turn, aren’t able to teach the kids.

  6. Great article! Never before have I witnessed something with my own eyes and then heard a completely opposite account of events being portrayed by the media. How can they look at the videos and come to their conclusions? Thank you for setting the record straight!!

  7. I am sure I am speaking for 99 9 percent of the Almont Alumni. We appreciate you taking your time and letting others learn the truth from reading The Valley Vanguard reguarding Almonts dignity and reputation. Very Respectively, Spencer Kenny. Class of 1995 Almont.

  8. Thank you for telling the other side of the story. What the Detroit News and Free Press did was take half the story and completely spin it into a racism piece slandering an entire town. Their shoddy journalism caused more divide and mistrust and promotes more cultural ignorance. One other thing nobody talked about is how the Almont Superintendant early on completely and unabashedly threw the Almont Band under the bus as this situation started to develop. So sad Almont kids got a double dose of journalism and politics.

    On the plus side, I think half of Almont showed up at Ford Field and we had a great time! Almont and Lansing Catholic trams and fans showed exceptional sportsman on and off the field.

  9. What about the buses they put graffiti on or the windows they broke out i agree with you. I will never buy a free press or news again and the tv stations are just as guilty. Thank you for telling the truth

  10. I graduated from Denny in 68 and was proud but not now,don’t want anyone to know for shame.

  11. Are you kidding…???

    “You don’t get to play the victim-of-racism card if you’ve actually done something wrong. You don’t get to turn it around on us when we win fair-and-square.”

    If the Denby players, and coaches were poor sports, or playing dirty, then the officials should (and did) handle it.

    …but that is no excuse for racist taunts, spitting on people, etc.

    Ever.

    “No, it’s all about what we did. We’re the white country hicks who drive tractors to school and throw racial slurs at visitors and feign innocence. Well, guess what? Almont never claimed to be innocent in all of this.”

    Well, that’s mighty white of you, to own your unhooded racism.(see below)

    It certainly sounds like Denby was guilty of several offenses, but you can’t justify racism because someone is an asshole.

    Congratulations on the win, and I understand that several businesses contributed to the purchase of team capes.
    Did you get the hoods also?
    Now run along an celebrate with a burning cross.

  12. What Denby did at other games before they played Almont is irrelevant. What did happen is a few ignorant racist were upset because some black players kneeled when the national anthem was played. During which the n word was hurled at them and garbage was thrown. Try to lighten it up like you want but racist behavior was definitely dominant.

  13. I’ll take a minute to add, and address some of the comments.
    1: This is probably one of the most important aspects that people seem to have zero clue about. The kneeling happened at the beginning of the game. People from Almont, didn’t come over to that section to “confront” the players leaving, and definitely wasn’t regarding what happened 2hrs earlier. Whoever was in that area, was just there. Get it? The ramp is where the players from Denby needed to exit, as that was where they entered. The stadium was elevated above the field, and the exit was messy regardless of anything had happened or not.
    2: Everything is relevant from past games. It shows the character of the team. I’ve never in my life seen a game turn into a mockery. Knocking a flag out of officials hands? Schoolyard, illegal forward passes, cheap shots, gesturing, etc. I can’t imagine what was actually said on the field. All that character (or lack of), all that frustration and acting a fool, carried right over with the team after the game was STOPPED EARLY, where they would ultimately cross paths with the Almont band,cheer,dance, etc.

    3: As people in the crowd at that end watched Almont celebrate in end zone, they got to witness aggressive behavior towards the said band members by Denby players. Taking offense to a cheer of “Hardwork” that had been parroted between band members all season. A fun, Marco/Polo style cheer that had zero intentions on any negative slight towards Denby. Now, this would send the band and cheer members scattering in the opposite direction down the track to the other end of field.

    Stay with me now…

    4: THIS is what started the chatter at that end. Not kneeling…not spitting… not a racial slur… those last two would come after, and reportedly from a single individual who did not live in Almont, wasn’t a parent, and wasn’t an Alumni. If you can’t tell kids to knock it off or engage in some type of reprimand once the confrontation happened with the band, then I believe the sky is a different color in your world. Had my daughter or son been threatened and gone after by a 6’ football player in full pads, who was just showing malicious, uncontrollable intent on the field, Id hope ANY parent/ coach/ staff/ would step in and try to control the situation.

    5: The Video accounts start after ALL that. After the Almont band and cheer teams were sent scurrying. After the game was called in an unprecedented manner. After the players garnished an initial reaction from their aggressiveness while crossing path with those I stated. Timeline of events SHOULD matter greatly. What also should matter greatly, is that down in that corner, you had a large mix of ppl. Officers both Black and White. EMT workers. Walled Lake Central Staff, Concession stand workers, Fans in general who came to watch a game. So far, 1 person has been identified to authorities that took it WAY to far. NOBODY that knows the true situation and was there, is condoning and supporting this type of behavior. To accuse a town, school, team, as sharing in this idiotic display of behavior is absolutely ABSURD!

    6: I’ve yet to see anything thrown at Denby players from the people at that end in any video, who I mentioned were not just “Almont fans/parents”. I seen helmet and cleats going over. I seen helmets getting handed back. I seen after all stated above, while Denby attempted to force themselves into a crowd, ONE GUY exchange spit with one player.

    7: Nobody is defending the actions of this one person! If they are, they most definitely do not represent the school, community, or team. There’s been a TON of interjection from both sides that have their information completely screwed up! This is an ongoing investigation and there were PLENTY of professional law enforcement directly in the middle of the situation.

    8: Lost in all this, is the fact that almost no acknowledgement of prior wrongdoing on Denbys behalf, before the sole individual opened his mouth and crossed a threshold nobody should cross, let alone at a high school football game. Denby was totally unprepared to accept a loss. Denby wasn’t cheated. Denby was responsible for a complete disrespect to the MHSAA semi-final referee crew. Denby was totally unprepared to congratulate the victors, and relish in how far their own efforts took them. Denby was WAY out of line to bring all that hostility into the band and garnish a reaction from people down at that end of field. The individual in question was WAY out of line saying what was said. People who assume without seeing the entire picture, witnessing the timeline of events, and condemn a team,school,town, as being “racists” are WAY out of line!

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