IT is a measure of football’s arrogant sense of self-importance that the more imperilled the game becomes, the greater its desire to alienate those who report on it.
Golf, on the other hand, embraces the media and recognises the need to continue to foster good relationships in an effort to ensure the future well-being of the sport.
Scottish football, where rudeness and bad manners come as standard, is in a parlous state. Yet, dealing with those at the heart of the game, one is left with the distinct impression that a siege mentality prevails.
We “press bastards” are regarded as a festering sore to be squeezed dry of information needed to sell the game and promote its finer points, albeit the latter grow fewer in number by the season.
Snarling mangers, surly players and dismissive chairmen and club administrators regard us with a jaundiced eye, believing that we are out to sabotage their best efforts to prop up a patient seemingly in terminal decline.
Civility is such a rare trait that, when we are afforded any, it generally comes as a shock to the system.
Golf, meanwhile, values its media in a way that highlights the professionalism and business nous of those charged with ensuring the sport continues to grow.
In truth, those of us fortunate enough to spend several months of the year reporting on the progress of the world’s top golfers want for little in the way of working facilities, hospitality and access.
The media car park is rarely more than a 3-wood from the media centre; lunch is supplied and press officers try to deal satisfactorily with every reasonable request.
Even the world’s top players are obliged to attend media conferences under penalty of a fine, if they fail to do so without offering an acceptable reason for their absence.
Most are happy enough to comply and few behave in anything other than a civilised and obliging manner.
Contrast this with football, where a sizeable percentage of managers and players regard dealing with the media as a form of torture. Many would not tell you the location of a bird’s nest, let alone anything truly worthwhile.
But woe-betide those of us who have the temerity to do our job honestly and criticise constructively.
Failure to play by the club’s rules can even lead to a withdrawal of privileges, such as a hard seat in a freezing cold press box, a stale pie and a plastic cup of weak tea followed by the often banal musings of the protagonists.
There have even been moves to charge the media for the privilege of doing their job and publicising the game free of charge.
Yet, this is a sport on the bones of its backside.
Dwindling attendances, general apathy on the part of fans that should be much more valued for their loyalty, a lack of financial resources, and plummeting standards of play has taken Scottish football to the brink of a crisis.
Personally, after a glorious summer of sport reporting on the Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup, I approach a return to the football beat with a growing sense of dread.
Huddled inside a heavy coat and clad in thermals, I will sit there frozen to the marrow asking myself: “What the hell am I doing here?”
My hosts, meanwhile, will shrug their shoulders and carry on regardless. It would be utterly absurd to imagine more than a handful of those connected with the game would even consider for a moment thanking the media for the vital part we play in selling the sport.
But it would be nice, all the same, if there was a hint of appreciation and manners from the majority.
Yes, there are some – sadly, few in number – who have a handle on media relations. The rest don’t appear to give a damn.
But to those who regard the media as little better than the stuff they occasionally scrape off the soles of their shoes. I say this: wake up and take a lesson from golf – before it’s altogether too late.