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Getting bored with sports

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Pulitzer Wannabe, Sep 5, 2007.

  1. I'm a fairly successful sports writer with some name recognition ... and as time goes on, I seem to find myself more and more bored with covering sports. It's not that I haven't gone off the beaten path for stories - I've done stuff, quite a lot of stuff actually, where sports intersects with society, education, etc., etc., etc.

    Yet, for some reason, when I think about staying in this business long-term, if I do, I can't imagine doing it as a sports writer and a sports writer alone. I read coverage of the Iraq War or of national politics or international happenings - or even stuff here like Hurricane Katrina and so forth.

    This always comes out worse than it sounds in my own mind - it makes it sound like I'm disparaging what we do, like I don't think it's important enough or something. But I can't help the pull that "the other side" seems to have on me lately. I wouldn't even know where to begin, though, to get the kind of gig that would be as satisfying on that side as big-time sports. Columbia grad school? Switch over at my own paper? Ask for a few off-beat non-sports stories to perform here and there?

    Anyone else ever feel this way? Maybe it's temporary.
  2. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Well-Known Member

    See what they'll let you do at your own place. Can test water without making major move. But if you're on a coveted beat, be careful -- the folks in sports might see it as a sign that you're losing interest or vulnerable and make a move FOR you.
  3. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Well-Known Member

    Can't blame you for the boredom part, though. We cover stuff with very little meaning, with more of the focus going to off-court, off-field, off-ice crap. Or the real-life tearjerker stories we would ignore if a guy were an accountant, we blow up into something huge because he's a linebacker. Stupid. Kid who's taking 20 credits in engineering and working way through with a job at sewage plant gets nothing written about him, but fullback with 1.6 GPA majoring in phys ed who is banging cheerleaders two at a time gets profiles and headlines. Stupid.
  4. Yeah ... that kind of explains what goes through my mind.
  5. Lugnuts

    Lugnuts Well-Known Member

    All I can really say is, yes, I hear you.

    But I did two short stints in news and found it depressing.
  6. Kaylee

    Kaylee Member

    I fully identify with the boredom that you speak of, but having done both I can assure you that news, too, can be a grind. Meetings, dry statistics, less chance to work from home, morning hours...the grass isn't always greener.

    News is a lot like sports...we all dream of covering that big, stop-the-world event and later telling our friends that, yep, we were there. But on the way to those events, there are plenty of nights listening to Coach Gout talk about how well Johnny Fingerbang ran against Inner City Vo-Tech.

    News is no exception. I know a lot of news-siders who have gone to Iraq, covered Katrina, been on the campaign trail...to a man, they also have stories about new nature trails being littered with dog doots or the obligatory "local reaction" to things like bridge collapses and stuff.

    Every job comes with a bag of boredom you have to carry. The trick is finding the job with the smallest bag. Sometimes the best way to deal with the on-the-job blahs isn't so much to change what you do but change what you do away from the job. Find things that refresh you in your off-hours, and you'll likely have a better approach on the clock.
  7. Angola!

    Angola! Guest

    I have a friend who was a sports writer and a very good one at that.
    He moved to a new paper and was forced to work in news when Hurrican Rita was getting ready to hit. He wrote a bunch of stories on the evacuation trail and won a couple of awards. His paper switched him to news and he hasn't looked back.
    He is now a GA reporter and seems to love it.
    He does some BS stories - but who doesn't at newspapers? But for the most part he has the freedom to write in depth feature stories and just do his thing, which isn't allowed in sports as much because you have to produce too many game stories, previews, columns, capsules, etc.
  8. I am fortunate to have some latitude and find myself doing more non-sports stories than sports stories recently. I'm finding I'm enjoying the non-sports stories much more because it's a lot more rewarding, not to mention easier and more enjoyable, to talk to "normal" people than athletes, especially professional, who seem to have no idea what a "normal" life is like.

    A couple of weeks ago I stood in front of a well-known professional athlete's empty locker for an hour after he said he'd talk to me for a story. But, of course, first he had to get dressed, get his equipment ready, go to a team meeting, etc. He arrived at his locker, no surprise, just as the "open locker room session" was about to close. I had to go to Plan B.

    It's been refreshing, albeit sometimes harder, to report stories about people who don't have "availability periods." It's also more fun to talk to these everyday people, because there seems to be more common ground. I find myself doing a more thorough job reporting the non-sports stories because I have more time. Interestingly, I find myself telling my friends about the interesting things I've learned on the non-sports stories, not the sports stories.

    If you have a chance, ask to spend some time in another department -- or maybe even pitch a story to another section that you can do on the side or on a freelance basis. I like sports, but covering them has become so processed that I don't feel as if I'm learning much that someone else doesn't already know, or won't soon enough. I don't think sports is unimportant, necessarily, just oversaturated.
  9. SixToe

    SixToe Active Member

    I believe at some point every writer wants the freedom to do "whatever."

    Having the skills to do it well, along with the support, encouragement and promotion from solid management, is not in everyone's bag.

    You aren't disparaging "sports" by wanting to look around. Go for it.

    Let your people know you want to branch out. Find some cool stories and nail them. Show them you can do it.
  10. finishthehat

    finishthehat Active Member

    I second the idea of switching out at your own paper before doing anything rash.

    If you can find someone on the news side who has similar feelings, maybe you could pitch a temporary (say six-month) switch to the powers-that-be.
  11. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest

    Write a book.
  12. I have.

    But it was a sports book :)
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