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Other people's accomplishments

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by WaylonJennings, Mar 20, 2008.

  1. Do you ever feel like that's what you spend your life documenting as a sports writer?

    Or am I overanalyzing?

    Obviously there are other stories to pursue - just look at the work the Ann Arbor news did this week. Or anything about the intersection of sports and business or sports and education.

    But on a day to day basis, sometimes it feels like, "Fuck, I'm tired of writing about Johnny Football and his 78 catches as a junior. I'd like to be the one doing phenomenal things with my life, not the one writing about other people doing so."

    I imagine preps writers with ambition may feel this more than most. While others, I know, feel very content spending their life bringing attention to the accomplishments of others.
  2. e4

    e4 Member

    yes, yes, yes ... spending days watching people play -- it ain't work, but it ain't playing either. not that you want to be in uniform, but can't remember the last i spent a weekend with friends hitting the beach or whatever
  3. Small Town Guy

    Small Town Guy Well-Known Member

    But I'd imagine writers in any area could feel the same thing. You write about politicians, but feel you could contribute something as a city councilman. You're a business writer, but think you have a great idea for a new business of your own. If it's about frustration over sports, you could become a coach. I know a guy who quit the newspaper world, got his teaching degree and became a coach because he missed the action.
  4. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Active Member

    To me, this is a very natural feeling and one that, if considered carefully and over time, can lead to a very rational decision to get out of this business. (Never mind all the blaring sirens and flashing lights coming from the death-spiraling revenues/circulation numbers that demand immediate donning of parachutes and life jackets!!!)

    Not only do we spend our lives chronicling the accomplishments of other people, we chronicle accomplishments -- sports -- that mean virtually nothing anyway. Forever writing about an endless line of 17-year-old quarterbacks or 20-year-old shooting guards or 31-year-old middle relievers is not a professional life well spent, if you really want to make a difference in your one go-round on the planet.

    If you're concerned primarily with earning money and providing for a family and avoiding a cubicle and a suit-and-tie, then what the hell, things could be worse. Although the money part and the providing part will be somewhat limited by the people who hire you and pay you (before they eventually lay you off).

    Yes, it is true, we entertain some readers with our little feature stories and even touch their (ugh) hearts with the occasional melodramatic column about some jock's sick mom or dead dog. But that still leaves a whole world full of injustices and not-covered-yet-important stories that we never bother with while immersing ourselves in games. Let's remember as well that stuff like the Ann Arbor coverage is made necessary because we keep feeding the beast and encouraging academic institutions to dwell on bigger, better, faster!

    Sorry for what seems like self-loathing, but do we really like sports and games and athletes so much that we will spend our entire working lives typing up tales of their exploits? For 20, 30 or 40 years? How many of us has written about a chess champ or a science teacher's tips for engaging problem students or a local pastor's quiet little charity work?

    Go back and read some of your stories from two or three years ago. How many of them matter one bit today? Had they never been written, the world would be no worse off.

    Or am I overanalyzing, too?
  5. Yeah, I was thinking more like JD/MBA and try to get into front-office work.

    But to get back to your point, yeah, I don't know if people who cover politics feel the same way. Or people who cover education. Or cops. Obviously, there's room for investigative work, etc., and I'd imagine that people at the New York Times or the Washington Post don't feel like they're spending their professional lives documenting "other people's accomplishments." But if you cover sports, especially amateur sports, or cover community/local news, it just starts to feel like that after a while.

    It's like, shit, I'm as altruistic as the next guy. But not sure I want to spend 30 or 40 years filling other people's scrapbooks when I feel like I have much more to offer than that.

    That said, I'm glad I've spent a decade or so doing it. It's been a great ride and allowed me access to and illuminated areas most people only dream of.
  6. Walter Burns

    Walter Burns Member

    Sure, there is a vicarious thrill involved, and sometimes that can be fun, and it can be just as fun to be able to say, "I was there."
    But y'know what? I can't dunk a basketball. I can't catch a 60-yard touchdown pass or hit a curveball.
    But I bet there's a lot of those athletes who can't do what I do, either.
  7. huntsie

    huntsie Active Member

    I enjoy the stories. Not the games so much -- I remember very few particulars of games I've covered for very long afterward. But I enjoy talking to the athletes and finding out something interesting about them and telling that story.
    I enjoy having a front row seat to athleticism and exhilaration and emotion, and putting it down. I enjoy the pressure of doing it well and doing it on time.
    I enjoy being able to do it in a way that people enjoy reading...it's a gift not everyone has and one I don't take for granted.
    Does it make a difference in the world? Not in the grand scheme of things, no.
    But when someone flips through that scrapbook, and shows it to their son or daughter -- or they don't, and they find it among their belongings after they're gone -- I enjoy that feeling. I enjoy hearing that people tucked that clip away, or hung it on their fridge or carried it in their wallet.
    It makes a difference to someone. Not every day. But enough.
  8. RossLT

    RossLT Guest

    I can't do any of those either, but the problem is I bet anyone can do my job.
  9. deviljets7

    deviljets7 Member

    Now you're comparing "doing a job" to "doing a job well," unless of course you think you're bad at your job (which I doubt is the case).

    Just because I can throw a baseball doesn't mean I can do Johan Santana's job, just like writing a few sentences on a high school baseball game doesn't mean you can do Peter Gammons' job.
  10. Dessens71

    Dessens71 Member

    At the very least, you're entertaining people. I can think of many less noble things to do for a living.
  11. cranberry

    cranberry Well-Known Member

    Post this on the depression thread and half of the sportswriting industry calls in sick tonight.
  12. lono

    lono Active Member

    Is what we're doing on a par with curing cancer?

    Of course not. Not even close.

    Is it a lot more fun than painting houses, working in a factory, selling cars, being a call center rep, flipping burgers, doing landscaping, digging ditches, middle management, selling subscriptions, parking cars or literally dozens of other jobs?

    Uh, yeah.
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