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December 06, 2001

Is SportsCenter biased?

Q: I would like to know why SportsCenter is anti-Frank Thomas. He is hardly ever shown and the White Sox as a team are hardly ever chosen to be talked about.
Anthony Egizi -- Burlington, Vt.

Dan Patrick: Frankly, I get this question, or a variation on it, fairly often. All I can say is that there is no bias at SportsCenter. We run the highlights of each game. We can't tailor them to specific markets.

It goes like this: A production assistant watches a baseball game and cuts those three or so hours down to maybe 40 seconds. A highlight supervisor approves the work or sends it back for revisions. As the anchor, I simply describe the action in the highlight and pass along information pertinent to the game, the teams involved or individual players. Then it is on to the next one.

If you're a Twins fan, you have to know why we don't lead the show with Twins highlights. The key is not to take it personally.

We may spotlight a certain player who is on a tear, like Todd Helton was earlier this year or like Mac and Sammy were in 1998. Now that may seem like favoritism to someone who does not like the Rockies, Cardinals or Cubs. But it's just recognizing the news from the SportsCenter perspective.

I dropped all of my personal team allegiances when I got this job. Not overnight, I grant you, but pretty quickly. The same is true of my colleagues. Being a die-hard fan of any team does not help you as an anchor on SportsCenter. The show is a team effort and I would be called on it pretty quickly if I appeared to be pushing one team or denigrating another.

If you're a Twins fan, you have to know why we don't lead the show with Twins highlights. The key is not to take it personally.

While I do not interject my opinion on the ups and downs of teams, I do like to mention or promote an emerging athlete that I think is underappreciated. Recently, I have taken brief notice of the accomplishments of Athletics SS Miguel Tejada and Jaguars WR Jimmy Smith. Last year, I noted that Bills WR Eric Moulds was a lot better than his national reputation seemed to be.

I feel that these kinds of remarks, which, again, I keep very short, are purely positive and do not harm any one. A supportive comment about an athlete is not favoritism and it certainly is not a knock on his rivals.

Maybe someone out there will now take another look at Tejada when assessing the top shortstops. Maybe my comment will increase fans' knowledge and enjoyment of the game. That is part of what we do on SportsCenter, too.

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