Respect and sensitivity in sports journalism is needed

Michael Guido, Managing & Sports Editor

The football world was shocked to learn that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Dwayne Haskins was killed in South Florida Saturday morning. 

Haskins, 24, was in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., with fellow Steelers teammates working out and training together in preparation for the upcoming 2022 NFL season. 

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, Haskins was attempting to cross the westbound lanes of Interstate 595 on foot early Saturday morning when he was struck by a dump truck and died at the scene. 

An official investigation is underway regarding the circumstances surrounding Haskins’ death. 

The sudden death of Haskins brought a wave of shock and sadness across the NFL and the sports world at large. 

Teammates both current and former flooded social media with touching tributes to Haskins, describing him as a hardworking, humble and honest person trying to turn his career around after struggling with Washington after being selected 15th overall out of Ohio State in the 2019 NFL Draft.  

Yet, the mourning of Haskins has not been without controversy. 

Esteemed ESPN reporter Adam Schefter, who by and large is considered the top NFL reporter in the country, garnered much criticism for his tweet announcing the death of Haskins. 

In it, Schefter said that “Dwayne Haskins, a standout at Ohio State before struggling to catch on with Washington and Pittsburgh in the NFL, died this morning when he got hit by a car in South Florida, per his agent Cedric Saunders. Haskins would have turned 25 years old on May 3.” 

To many, the tweet came off as insensitive and cold, considering that Haskins had passed only mere hours before the tweet was sent out. 

To highlight the shortcomings of Haskins’ career so soon after his untimely death was wholly inappropriate and unnecessary.  

No one will disagree that Haskins struggled coming into the NFL and had some very public problems that resulted in him being cut after only two years in Washington. 

However, the fact remains that, according to all those who knew him intimately, he was as sincere and professional as they come and was simply a young man trying to become the best version of himself, whatever he determined that to be.  

While in due time people will analyze why Haskins did not become the quarterback most envisioned him to be coming out of college, Schefter’s tweet lacked the sensitivity that is required of a journalist of his caliber when covering the shocking and sudden passing of a well-known professional athlete. 

These athletes have family and friends; they are humans in all the same ways we are.  

It is necessary for a journalist of Schefter’s caliber to consider those who might have found out about the tragedy from his tweet; the surprise of it while being reminded of his failure to meet expectations is cruel and negates basic respect. 

It is my hope that going forward, this will serve as a lesson to other journalists that when handling the breaking of a major news story involving life and death, each story should be handled with the care and consideration it deserves.  



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