Rais and Ray
Greg Carroccio

Reader's digest: Looking at fact vs. rumor and how it all keeps the hype wheel churning

The offseason is a tricky time.

There is a great amount of speculation, rumor and innuendo that in many cases sometimes gets picked up and ran with.

But that doesn’t make it true.

It’s my guess that you are among one of the hordes of sports fans that already knows this, but sometimes things can get lost in the shuffle, rumor becomes fact and that ideology becomes misplaced vitriol. It's no secret that over the course of a season, players will be added to a roster, players will depart a roster, but until I’s are dotted and T’s are crossed from the League office, I can tell you that nothing is ever official.

There have been instances of players that were slated to join MLS clubs where at the last minute their agreement – for whatever reason – has fallen through or have been modified from the news that was leaked via a "source" with "knowledge of the deal."

Before my new role of trying to oversee, predict and damage control all of the information that is spewed on a daily basis about the club I work for, the Philadelphia Union, I was the guy hustling to create the news, to get the story and somewhat to be the go-to man for it all for the Philadelphia Daily News.

And anyone in that latter role will tell you, it’s fun. It’s probably why I enjoy our current Union media corps. They keep a team and organization that hasn’t played a single match in over three months relevant in a crowded sports landscape via their publications, but most notably through the various social media platforms you and I use everyday.

They keep you talking.

They keep you guessing.

But they also can sway your opinion without even knowing it.

I’ll show you how...

Before we released the intent to loan former Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath to the Colorado Rapids for the 2015 MLS season, multiple outlets had broken the news. Following the reports, I saw this post on Twitter:

It’s a good question, but it also shows that perhaps we could do all (media and in-hous alike) do a bit more in the education and the thinking behind these moves and how they work – while reporting that it’s going down.

In the case of MacMath, this move can be construed as a win-win for all parties. As a young goalkeeper, right off the bat, it gives MacMath, 24, a fresh start somewhere to continue to grow a budding career. In 103 matches for the Union, MacMath compiled a 34-39-29 record.

If he can excel in Commerce City, Colo. and put himself higher on MLS’ goalkeeping totem pole, then he becomes a great commodity in either a player personnel sense back here in Philadelphia or from a financial sense as his stock will continue to rise.

Please, don't call that way of thinking harsh. I'm telling you, that’s sports.

Players know it; ask any of them and they’ll tell you that nothing is certain. They are aware of the way of thinking and in some cases accept that the sometimes hard truth that determines their professional fates. The good news is there are fans like you that understand this as well; because later in that same day, I found this on Twitter:

Moving on, I want to say this.

Working in journalism for over a decade and now exploring the wild world that is public and media relations, I’ve learned one thing about reports:

There is always an ulterior motive.

Late last week, this bogus report was posted on a French website stating that Rais Mbolhi is looking to get out of Major League Soccer and try his career elsewhere.

Well, I can tell you that is false. At the time of this report, Mbolhi was still the Union’s No. 1 goalkeeper with an eye on starting fresh with his new club – this of course after he tries to lead his native Algeria to glory in the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations tournament.

Mbolhi told me before he left about his comfort level playing here and that he feels in time the fans will respect him and see that he is a quality goalkeeper. He said as much last month when he did this in-depth video series with French based video blog Clique TV.

Look, I’ve seen these types of reports surface for a bunch of reasons including but not limited to the following:

  • Disgruntled player looking to leak drama in the media (not the case here)
  • Disgruntled player agent looking to syphon more dollars for his client (also not the case here)
  • Media member (or blogger) writing off of a single "source" they felt was legitimate (who knows?).

The reasons go on, but for whatever reason these types of stories surface in an effort to not only force hands, but also sway collective thinking.

If I can offer one piece of advice it's this...advice that was actually given to me a long time ago...

Read all of it; ingest some of it but don’t let any of it sway your thinking. That even goes for this post, one that was merely intended to give you some of the behind the scenes of the collective thought process. I’ll be doing more of these types of posts from time to time as it was requested by powers that sit in offices here at Union HQ that we return to a more edgy, fun and educational way of informing you, the fan.

Have a question for or want something cleared up? Follow me on Twitter (@sprtswtr) and ask away. And as always, thanks for reading.

Contact Union digital editor Kerith Gabriel at kgabriel@philadelphiaunion.com

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