Jenny Dell and Will Middlebrooks Are Dating. Now What?
On December 31, Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks tweeted a photo to his 145k+ followers that ultimately confirmed waves of speculation during the season: the Boston athlete is dating NESN’s Red Sox sideline reporter, Jenny Dell. Well, Happy New Year!
Right after Boston won the 2013 World Series in October, Barstool Sports confirmed the two were an item after some photos of the pair out and about surfaced on the Internet, and the Globe reported that Middlebrooks and Dell are living together. It was two weeks later when Dell and Middlebrooks shared photos via Twitter while they spent New Year’s Eve together. Talk about crushing the dreams of every college-aged dude in town, huh?
In the grand scheme of things, this is the oldest type of romance in the book. Relationships in the workplace are common and commonly inevitable. Because Dell and Middlebrooks are who they are, it’s like a match made out of a sporting goods catalogue. They’re a great pair, we should mind our business, etc. But…this is Boston, these are the Red Sox, and we don’t know how to do that here.
I understand that professional sports are a form of entertainment rather than hard news. NESN is not CNN. It’s not as if the country huffed and puffed about ethics when E! News anchor Ryan Seacrest was dating starlet Julianne Hough. But in Dell’s case, she made it clear when interviewed by Boston magazine’s Jason Schwartz last winter that her reporting career is her first priority even as a person in the spotlight. Here’s what she had to say about people who get fixated on the attractiveness of sideline reporters:
I guess I can understand it to a certain extent. But the important thing is for people to take me seriously as a journalistic reporter, because that’s my job. My old producer, Russ Kenn, said to me at the beginning, You want to make sure people are talking about the content coming out of your mouth and not about what you’re wearing or how you look that day.
In the same interview, she commented on how the job can become a bit of a sideshow:
You need to work every day to be taken seriously. You have to constantly be on the lookout and realize that you’re not “on” only when you’re on television. You’re on when you’re out to dinner with friends, you’re on when you’re going grocery shopping. …
The reason we are allowed to hold Dell at a high standard in this situation is because she takes her duty as a reporter seriously. She refers to herself as a reporter, not a television personality. Dell has had a successful two years with NESN, and has already made quite a name for herself in the industry. All jokes and pretend happiness aside, the relationship between Dell and Middlebrooks demonstrates a real conflict of interest. It undoubtedly will weaken her image and integrity as a journalist.
So what’s next for Jenny Dell? One report says that she’s being courted by Fox Sports 1. Another speculates that Dell was offered another job—perhaps in the studio—at NESN. Either way, it’s time for NESN to make some moves. And soon.