New Mexico sports writer quits job after team lost to Harvard Crimson
After nearly 33 years of covering the University of New Mexico basketball team, beat writer and Loboland.com editor Dennis Latta has had enough of the team’s losing ways.
The recent upset to No. 14 Harvard compelled the writer to quit his job covering the team. In a highly opinionated article published on the Rivals news site for New Mexico coverage, Latta harshly criticized the performances of the Mountain West Conference Tournament MVP Tony Snell, and MWC Player of the Year Kendall Williams.
“I never expected the Player of the Year to be absolutely invisible when he was needed most or that the tournament MVP couldn’t hit a 3-pointer on a bet,” wrote Latta.” I was wrong.”
The Year of the Lobo, as Latta regarded the team before its fall out, had a solid starting five. Latta revealed his disappointment when the Lobos were only ranked “a lowly third.” He wanted to believe the Lobos had a great chance to reach the Final Four to prove everyone on the ranking-committee wrong. Latta wrote, “I was wrong” eight times to let his readers know how gut wrenching the upset had on his spirit.
“But I won’t be wrong again,” Latta wrote. “It was a lot easier to take when expectations were lower. Losing was acceptable because UNM had almost always lost when it really counted. You didn’t have visions of greatness, only to have them dashed. After the pitiful performance UNM put up against a team that doesn’t even offer scholarships, I’ve given up. Having all five starters back next season means nothing on a team that can just disappear like that. I’d be back to wondering when it would collapse, have a terrible game and lose to an inferior team again.”
Latta blamed the UNM’s “road to glory” for his high expectations. He blamed the UNM basketball team for losing to teams seeded below 13. He blamed the UNM’s losing tradition, of just showing up only to disappear when the games matter. But the Crimson did make history by winning its first NCAA Tournament game. The Lobos were victims not of history, but of failure to defend 3-point shooting. The Crimson shot 44.4 percent from beyond the arc.
Sportsmanship though, has greater breadth than just the players involved. It also applies to those who cover the players’ every miss and every game winner. Latta had broken that bridge that journalists never crossed. He’s made himself the story, and he put too much of himself about the story of others, even if they are the linchpins of New Mexico sports.
Latta was right to be disappointed. But quitting his job over one college basketball game, albeit with high expectations for the UNM’s victory, is hyperbolic. Instead, he should have rooted on for a rebuilding off-season. Or at the very least, ask the UNM players how they felt. Because at the center of this scrutiny are young kids with bright futures ahead of them, not an experienced reporter who didn’t act like one.