Opinion & Editorial

So, how was your weekend?

Mine was great, starting with my Miami Hurricanes and our Oregon Ducks winning Friday night. Then I gorged on college football Saturday, and NFL on Sunday. With no apologies.
I’m a child of the TV generation, and I love sports. Mostly, I love watching sports on TV.
Many of my earliest memories were when my dad would gather me and my three older brothers around the TV to watch a big boxing match, a Triple Crown horse race, some old-fashioned wrestling and, of course, football.
My brothers and I played sports with neighborhood buddies, and through high school. A few were good enough to go beyond those levels. My brother played professional soccer in the early 1980s in the U.S. and abroad.
I remember running down the street in January of 1973, after the Miami Dolphins beat Washington in the Super Bowl to seal the only perfect season in the history of modern pro football. All of the kids were running around screaming, ringing doorbells, swinging a cowbell and generally losing our minds.
I was a basketball junkie through most of my youth, and a decent player for a small, private school.
I read plenty, too, and a lot about sports. I read the two local papers every day, especially scouring the sports section. I would call in to the local papers to report the exploits of my brothers, friends and school when something notable happened. I was stunned that I could just call in to the local paper and the next day a recap of something I reported was in the paper.
I began my professional journalism career in sports when I was offered a job while a freshman in college. My professor said, “take it; easiest way to break into the business.”
A backhanded slap at sports journalists, no doubt.
I did take the job, and it’s been an incredible ride. Sports journalism was going through dramatic changes in the 1980s, fighting hard to establish its credibility – and remove the “toy department” tag it had been stuck with for decades. Old sportswriter stories abound at every newspaper, detailing the days of drinking in the newsroom and press box, favorable hometown bias, choosing and favoring either players or coaches who might give them access, etc.
In fact, I grew up professionally with a chip on my shoulder. The sports departments I’ve been a part of – and the professionals with whom I’ve worked – taught me that to be a sports journalist, you have to be the most well-rounded reporter and writer. The game itself was often the smallest part of your focus.
Multibillion dollar stadium construction, dealing with city hall and other officials, covering multimillion dollar salary negotiations, athletes involved with serious crime, athletes involved in petty crime, collusion among owners, fan experiences and safety, courts coverage, in-depth profiles of athletes, coaches and others, dealing with college institutions and the pro leagues (who have their own agendas), and health and wellness issues, to name a few.
The game? That’s a few hours a week, and the easiest thing to cover.
When we lived in Dallas and I oversaw Cowboys coverage for the paper, it presented a unique experience for our family. The Cowboys were one of the teams that plays every Thanksgiving, which means I was working every Thanksgiving, helping coordinate coverage of the game. Dee Dee would make a full Thanksgiving dinner the night before, and we’d tailgate as a family for hours before the game; then I’d head up to the press box to coordinate coverage among six writers and many photographers.
I would leave those game days so exhausted, it would take me a minute to remember who won.
People often say, “You had the greatest job, you were at all these games and events.” Yeah, but I was working, not there as a fan.
Covering sports really was not about enjoying a sporting event, it was making sure all the angles were covered, every reporter knew how “long” their story would be, making sure photographers had the right images and moments for those stories, working with page designers over the phone to make sure the context and layout was appropriate.
Nowadays … I get to watch as a fan. And, ahem, I’m all in.
My “home office” in Connecticut had four TVs, and I usually had a fifth game on my laptop. I often was watching live with my brother in Denmark, using Skype on our phones. It often was quite an ordeal to make sure we were “synced” up because neither of us could control our reaction and facial expressions.
I used to have to watch all these games on TV because the companies I’ve worked for required me to be up-to-date and engaged in sports news. So I had to watch a ton of sports.
It’s a joy now to have multiple games on multiple computer screens, like my own ESPN control room or local sports bar, watching games as a fan. I’m usually multitasking by doing some work-related tasks, and following every game possible on Saturdays and Sundays.
Let’s not even talk about Monday Night Football, and Thursday Night Football for college and pro … And let’s not even talk about golf’s four Majors, tennis’ four Majors, UEFA, World Cup, European Premier League, Olympics (we’ve got the Track & Field champions right here in 2020 and the World Track & Field Championships right here in 2021)….

Noel Nash is publisher of The Chronicle.



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