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How to leave sportswriting and never regret a second

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Inky_Wretch, Apr 25, 2019.

  1. Inky_Wretch

    Inky_Wretch Well-Known Member

  2. CD Boogie

    CD Boogie Well-Known Member

    Name doesn't ring a bell. Being a waiter isn't easy work. I did it for a few years when I dropped out of college. Still, it's probably better than being a sportswriter, at least nowadays.
  3. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    Definitely not easy work but if you're serving at a pricey midtown Manhattan steakhouse, as Walters tells us right off the bat, you're doing OK. An old college roommate has waited tables for nearly two decades in my town's most renowned steakhouse and he'd never go back to a 9-to-5 job.
  4. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    John was on my team at FanHouse, pre-dated me at Sports Illustrated. Great guy, very talented writer.
    nafselon and Inky_Wretch like this.
  5. CD Boogie

    CD Boogie Well-Known Member

    The bartender at my favorite neighborhood restaurant used to be a school teacher. He quit to tend bar full time because the money is so much better.

    Yeah, I used to work at a steak house in Darien, Connecticut, when I was in college. I'd come home most days with more than $100 in tips. Good money for a 19-year-old. It's real easy to get drawn into that life and to stay in restaurants for a long time. Maybe too long. A lot of guys I knew at the steak house never graduated from college. Then a few years ago, the steak house got sold and it went out of business. I don't know what became of a lot of those folks.
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2019
    RonClements likes this.
  6. SoloFlyer

    SoloFlyer Well-Known Member

    Something bothers me about this story as well as Austin Murphy's.

    It feels like something is missing from their story. The market for writers has changed drastically for everyone and former journalists have had to search high and low for jobs.

    But I find it odd that a former writer for SI the caliber of Murphy had no other options but to drive for Amazon, especially when he jumped to a job at the Santa Rosa Press Democrat after his Atlantic essay went viral.

    Same here with Walters. It just strikes me as odd that a guy with the stops he had suddenly found waiting tables to be a better option, even at an upscale restaurant.

    I'm not suggesting anyone needs to open their lives up to the public if there was some sort of trouble that caused them to turn to unique employment. And all indications are that they are great guys, well-liked, so I don't want to encourage the exposure of something that should remain private. But something feels absent from these stories. They're almost too clean, too polished. Life always feels a bit more messy.

    Maybe I'm naive to think former writers for major publications would have a number of opportunities compared to someone leaving the 20k daily.

    Or maybe I'm too cynical and should stop looking for holes in every story. Just felt it should be said.
    Kato, MNgremlin and Situation like this.
  7. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    In Murphy’s case, there was some trouble that caused him to suffer a heavy financial loss.
  8. SoloFlyer

    SoloFlyer Well-Known Member

    Yeah, I took the time this morning to revisit the thread that was posted when his story first came out. That led me to his ex-wife's essays in the NYT.

    Again, ultimately it's a very personal decision on what to share in a personal essay for a major publication. From just a writing standpoint, however, I'm curious as to what led each of them to share (or not share) what they did in their respective articles. Or even why they decided to take on those respective topics in print in the first place. It's difficult to put yourself out there in a vulnerable light, whether it's a job change or dealing with personal circumstances. So I'm always interested in understanding the process authors undergo in deciding what to reveal.
  9. dirtybird

    dirtybird Well-Known Member

    It doesn't sound like he had no other options. He seems to be writing this and that here and there.

    But he lives in one place and might not want to leave that place to pursue the job. It's a job with lots of highs, lots of lows, lots of stress that bleeds over into the non-work parts of a lot of life.

    There's always another opportunity and it usually comes with a cost. After years at that job with all the cool stuff, maybe he's just a bit tired of all of it. Maybe he wants something that has a start time and end time and lets him live in NY and pursue his writing on his terms.

    At times, this job is supremely messy. I wonder if the confines of waiting tables is in a way less messy, and that's what he likes. He implies in there somewhere in there his table waiting waxes and wanes with different opportunities. I imagine there's something liberating about a job that's a little more stripped down.

    (Is this me projecting? Most certianly)
    SFIND likes this.
  10. CD Boogie

    CD Boogie Well-Known Member

    1. What will benefit my career or my sense of well-being the most.
    2. See 1
  11. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    That was a great read. I liked it even better than Austin Murphy's account of his venture into something other -- and something typically considered lesser -- than journalism.

    And I related to it even more than I did Murphy's account. I got it, completely, and can hardly agree more with Walters' assessment and explanations.

    He was particularly spot-on in his writing that it's not the work, it's the doing it well that is the real high, and its own reward.

    I myself know, from my own experience now, that close proximity to work is among the most valuable and most vastly under-rated and understated -- and often even unknown -- perks that there can be in a job. Commuting/driving/running around-wise, you could literally not pay me enough to do what I used to do.

    As dirtybird suggested, there really is freedom and liberation in working a schedule, in a simpler job that may be seen as easier but is really just different. And the idea of leaving work at work? It's an amazing thing that is nothing short of eye-opening -- so much so that it feels like a novelty but is actually an everyday thing -- and a genuine ah-hah moment for a journalist.

    Everyday exposure to people like the department manager with the speech impediment, the sales floor associate and the second-shift stocker who are hearing-impaired; the octogenarians who probably shouldn't be working anymore but are doing so, anyway, because they have to in order to just get by; the overnighter who is deaf and has an artificial leg; the back-room support manager who suffers from Type I diabetes and lost a foot in a car accident...well, it gives you appreciation of all that you have, of your own good fortune, and yes, it gives you a dose of humility and makes heroes of these people who may never get to meet their childhood heroes, or work in their own dream jobs.

    There is dignity and respect, to be had and to be given, in any work. And I think these writers wanted to write about it in order to relay that, because it seemed that...well, almost wondrous, in a way. It's like a revelation to journalists who might have never really known, or understood. But now, they do.

    They can't help but want to write about it, and Walters did it well.
  12. This is why some folks like to work on the desk, vs. writing
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