The cardinal rule of sports writing is simple: No cheering in the press box.
Along with No autographs, this is the unbreakable, non-negotiable standard by which all sports writers must abide. It doesn't matter whether you're writing for the New York Times, The Podunk County Weekly or you operate a web site out of your parents' basement.
If you are credentialed as media at a sporting event, YOU DO NOT CHEER IN THE PRESS BOX. It's very simple, really.
Why do I bring this up? Because some people in the media cheered at the end of the Daytona 500. They clapped, yelled. And when they were called out, they actually tried to defend their actions!
Case in point: A guy named Bryan Davis Keith, who wrote this for Frontstretch.com (scroll down to item No. 5).
Sorry, but when you apply for a media credential at a sporting event, you give up your right to cheer. You want to cheer? Buy a ticket and go sit in the stands.
It doesn't mean you can't feel the emotion of what happens before your eyes. When Trevor Bayne won, I said (out loud), "Wow!" It was an amazing moment. And the race was so exciting, my hands were shaking afterward.
But the focus then turns to expressing that emotion to your readers. You do not – and cannot – act like a fan. You can't clap, you can't go high-five the winner and you can't be a tool.
There are certain standards of conduct in every profession. "No cheering in the press box" is near the top for sports writers.
If you can't understand the rules, get out of the media center.
For more on this issue, I highly recommend checking out this blog post by Jay Busbee.