In any other year, The Washington Football Team (like any other team) would issue training-camp credentials to a wide swath of media, both local and national, for attendance at practice and participation in press conferences. This year, with tight restrictions on who will actually be present for camp, Washington also is placing tight restrictions on who will be able to pose questions to coach Ron Rivera during his camp-opening press conference.
The team has announced that Rivera will be available on Tuesday morning at 9:15 a.m. ET, and that the press conference is “reserved for local reporters who cover the team on a daily basis.”
While the team may say that it simply doesn’t have the capacity to conduct a virtual press conference with so many participants (especially given the issues with which the franchise currently is dealing), it’s also true that a press conference including national sports media, local news media, and/or national news media would consist of more pointed questions regarding delicate issues surrounding the franchise, from the decision to change the name, the process of changing the name, the ongoing investigation regarding 15 former employees who allege workplace sexual harassment, and the active efforts of three limited partners to sell their interests.
The reality is that, for all 32 teams, “local reporters who cover the team on a daily basis” exercise a certain degree of discretion and restraint, if they hope to be able to effectively cover the team on a daily basis. Beyond media members who are employed directly by the league or the team (a dynamic that has become so widespread that it’s now viewed as acceptable and appropriate despite being neither), those whose beat consists of one team and only one team know where the line is, and they will be more likely stay away from it.
It will be interesting to see whether other teams apply this same approach this year, granting press-conference exclusivity to those who necessarily are more likely to not throw high heat when high heat may be required.