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Sports Journalism and losing your fanhood

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by verilos, Jul 4, 2009.

  1. verilos

    verilos New Member

    Hello everyone.

    I just graduated high school this May and will enter college this fall, with a plan to major in journalism.

    My passion has always been sports journalism. That's because some of the greatest joys in my life come from sports. Perhaps that's unhealthy, but I can't help myself. I am a diehard fan of my favorite teams (which I will not mention due to concerns about location/internet safety), whether it's baseball, NFL, NHL, college basketball or college football. I love the way I share sports with my family and friends. I love going to sporting events and blending in with thousands of other fans, all rooting for the same team that I am. I'm working two jobs right now to help pay for college, and I unwind by watching sports. It's my main source of entertainment.

    Due to my love of sports, sports journalism has always been my natural ambition. I'm starting to rethink that, however. I'm terrified that I'll lose my fanhood if I become a sports reporter. If sports becomes my job, then what will bring my joy away from work?

    I write for a tiny college sports website (a glorified blog, basically), and a few months ago I received media credentials to a college basketball tournament. It was a real thrill, to say the least, but I was really struck by some of the professional sports journalists around me. All of the excitement of basketball had been sucked out of them. The beauty and passion of the game no longer existed, because they were simply reporters. They reported the facts, and that was the only concern.

    I overheard two men in the elevator having a casual conversation, and one of the guys said to his friend: "two games down today, and two games to go. Then we get to go home." Is that what sports will become for me if I choose the field of sports journalism?

    I also heard a local radio personality-- a veteran of the sports reporting business-- mention a couple of months ago that he attended Game 6 of last year's Stanley Cup Finals and was bored out of his mind in the stands, because sports had become so monotonous.

    I love being a sports fan. It helps me connect with my whole family and with thousands of other people around the country. I don't want to lose that. Is there any way to keep that intact while working in the sports business?

    And yes, I do realize that "losing my fanhood" seems like a silly concern. I probably come off as borderline insane for posting this. But I really don't want to become the type of person that views sports as "another day in the office." That's a terrifying thought.
  2. TwoGloves

    TwoGloves Active Member

    You can't be a raving fan if you're working events as a professional. Major no-no. I know plenty of people in the business who are still fans, they just don't act like it on the job. The big question is this: Why in the world would you want to go into a business that's dying every day? And once you meet some of the douches you idolize and see what major pricks they can be, you might change your tune. That's what soured me, covering Major League Baseball in my 20s and seeing what arrogant jerks some of those guys were. They thought they were God's gift to the world because they could throw a ball or hit it with a bat. After awhile, it's like anything else: It's a job.
  3. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    Yes, it does affect how you view sports. When I was doing agate and national pages, I lost all desire to watch national sports off of work. I ended up getting into some international sports just for a change of pace.

    Also, don't major in journalism. It's throwing your life away at this point.
  4. Moondoggy

    Moondoggy Member

    As you just graduated from high school, I'll be gentle but I'll also be emphatic. You can have an appreciation for the players and events you cover, but you can't be a fan. You can't care who wins or who doesn't, who plays well or who makes mistakes that cost the game. The most obvious reason is that people will read your stories who were actually fans of the other team and would appreciate reading unbiased reports, which is something a fan can't provide.
    This is a great profession but you do give up many things to be part of it, the least of which is your fanhood. You'll give up nights, weekends, and you'll be forced to miss the team you cheer for because you have to cover a game with teams you couldn't care less about. You'll have to write negative stories about people you like, or positive stories about people you don't. The story is not subject to your rooting interest.
    True journalism has been blurred, obscured, spindled and mutilated in recent years by people masquerading as journalists but lacking even the most rudimentary sense of how to really be one.
    Overcome all that and maybe you'll get the opportunity to work long hours for mediocre pay for ungrateful bosses in impossible situations.
    As the man said in "Rudy", like what you hear so far? Wanna run home to mama?
    Now's your chance.
  5. dooley_womack1

    dooley_womack1 Well-Known Member

    There will always be journalism, maybe not newspaper journalism, but journalism nonetheless. So the major wouldn't be a throwaway. Like any major, you get out of it what you put in and what the program has available to you. But mainly the former.
  6. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    For more on this argument, see almost every other thread on this board.

    But "there will always be journalism" isn't the same as "there will always be room for a significant number of people making a reasonable living at journalism."
  7. Don't go into journalism, and not out of fear of losing your fandom, but out of fear of being able to feed yourself.

    If you're still reading and you're still going to give it a whirl ...
    Yes, you lose some of your sports fandom when you become a sportswriter. It's only natural, and frankly, it's a good thing. Without it, you could never do a good, objective job of reporting. You cannot have any rooting interest whatsoever in the teams/athletes/coaches you cover. That is 100 percent inflexible. That said, if you're covering preps in South Dakota, there's no reason you still can't be the Boston Red Sox fan you've always been.

    And you don't have to hate sports to survive in this business. I've been doing this for more than a decade now, and I still love sports. I still watch more sports TV than any other kind. I'm still a fan - less passionate, but still a fan - of the pro teams I grew up rooting for.
    I still get a thrill out of watching sports - the competition, the struggle, victory, defeat, etc. If anything, I've learned to appreciate sports more.

    Yes, you'll occasionally bitch in the press box about your long day and hope it gets over soon. Some of the days we work, there's no way around that.
    But not every sportswriter turns into a bitter, ornery, I-hate-everything-about-this-job schmuck. There is a balance to be found.

    As an aside, even if you want to become a sportswriter, major in something else. Or at least minor. Have some options, because by the time you graduate, God knows how few sportswriting jobs will be left out there.
  8. dooley_womack1

    dooley_womack1 Well-Known Member

    As has always been the case, Rick; one never has gone into the biz out of college with money as the overriding motivation. But there are a lot more outlets for plying the trade now. Of course, not all of them are stable and there will be a shake-out. Basically, it still comes down to whether journalism is in your blood..
  9. 93Devil

    93Devil Well-Known Member

    If you want to be around sports and still be a fan, try to think of all the people who were at the game you attended who were working but still around the game.

    The trainer, the video person, the PR guy, the announcer, the strength and conditioning person and the many others.

    Pro sports and college sports will always be there. Newspapers? Maybe not.
  10. DirtyDeeds

    DirtyDeeds Guest

    I love (and hate) these threads. But verilos, these folks speak the truth. It's a tough business to be in right now, obviously. But if you work hard at it and are good at it, maybe you can still make a living doing it.

    And it is quite likely that your passion for sports will wane somewhat when it becomes work. I was much like you in high school and college, watching and reading everything I could get my hands on. I still follow sports, but definitely not with the enthusiasm I did 10 or 15 years ago.
  11. canucklehead

    canucklehead Member

    If you become a sports reporter you will lose your fanhood. It's a certainty. I miss mine. I miss the joy of going to a hockey game and cheering like everyone else. At my workplace the beat writers and deskers (like myself) all cheer against the home team in the playoffs because having them in the playoffs is a giant pain in the ass. Everyone not associated with sports gathers around the TV cheering the home team on while we sneer at them behind their backs.
    Plus, the likelihood of you getting to a point in your career where you are making enough money to support a family in a decent manner is slim. Like the others have said, newspapers are dying a slow death.
    Before it's too late, go do something else.
    I regret not going to teachers' college 20 years ago.
    I worked evenings writing sports and wasted my days sleeping when there was a university five minutes away. I could have picked up another degree while still holding down a fulltime job at the newspaper; then walked away to go teach high school gym and spend the summers at the cottage.
    Think about it. It's not too late.
  12. dooley_womack1

    dooley_womack1 Well-Known Member

    But that would be the same in any profession, Dirty. Jim Carrey probably enjoys acting less now than he did when he was a kid mugging for his parents or when he did a high school play.
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