I had the pleasure of meeting a Sports Information Director from Martin, Tenn., the university in that town, one night following at women’s basketball game at Eastern Illinois University. At Eastern, I’m a beat writer for the women’s basketball team, pursuing my life’s dream of being a sports writer. I met this SID and talked to him for about 15 to 20 minutes, waiting for the Tennessee-Martin head coach to leave the locker room and come talk to me.
He kept asking me what I wanted to do with my life. “So you work at the campus newspaper, what do you want to do with that?” I explained to him how badly I want to become a sports writer. He then asked if journalism or writing was something that came from my family. It doesn’t. My two parents and older brother work at State Farm Insurance Company. But they love it. If they didn’t love it, I’m convinced they wouldn’t be working there. I love sports and journalism. I love the two even more when put together.
We talked about my family, after I explained to him how they all work at State Farm. This SID had an brother who works at State Farm, too, but not in the same location. As we continued to talk, he said something that I will likely always remember, yet have always known. He said his brother, my brother and parents, don’t get to have fun like we do. Hell, we get to watch sports for a living, talk to the athletes, talk to the coaches, learn the games, and arguably know more about the team than anybody else does. We get to have fun. We get to live in the sports moments we’ve all watched growing up.
When we get together with friends, we get to talk about our job with a giant smile on our faces because we get to say, “I was there … I talked to him (or her) after that game (match, etc.)” Somebody gets to tell the story of how they covered the Music City Miracle game between the Tennessee Titans and Buffalo Bills. Somebody gets to tell the story of how they talked to Joe Montana after “The Catch” game. Somebody gets to tell the story about how they were the first to know — to break the news — when Magic Johnson announced he had HIV or when Michael Jordan retired.
Those are sports journalists. I’m a sports journalist. That’s why I want to be a sports writer.
I’m Alex McNamee. Thanks for listening.