Jerry Micco, sports editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, answered questions about the paper's general silence on the Rene Portland situation during an online chat session with readers yesterday. (For background, see my Nov. 25 post.) Micco's answers pointed to the difficulty in covering these kinds of stories. I've talked to several journalists who have been frustrated by their inability to reach former players who are willing to talk on the record. (If nobody talks, there's not much to write.)
Former players have legitimate reasons for their fear to speak out. Portland is a powerful figure in women's college basketball. ESPN earlier this month ran an Outside the Lines piece that also aired on SportsCenter. The only lesbian who spoke on camera played for Portland more than two decades ago and is not in coaching today.
With a topic that puts more than one career on the line, it can be a struggle even for national media, which have more resources and less at risk than do publications such as the Post-Gazette. This story is certainly worth the effort, though.