#SportswriterProblems

by azaleon

1) Janitors

Most commonly found covering: High schools

When time has expired and the crowd has shuffled out, all that remains in stadiums and arenas are those in charge of covering games and the maintenance staff.

Establishing a rapport with this staff is crucial -especially for high school reporters. In collegiate and professional venues, there’s normally a press work room and there’s so many seats that the clean-up takes a good while. But in high schools, reporters are not only in a race against deadline, but also for when it comes time to lock-up. Charming the maintenance staff can mean the difference between finishing your story and stats in a cozy press box versus the front seat of your car.

Worst situation I’ve ever been in; was told I couldn’t stay in press box because they were locking the stadium, proceeded to resume work in my car for a few minutes before I was then told that I couldn’t finish in the parking lot because that too was being locked for the night. So with deadline approaching, I parked my car in the vacant field across the street and made sure my doors were locked.

2) Wi-Fi

Most commonly found covering: Anything

Fake fact of the day- 78 percent of sportswriter connections are initially made with the question, “Hey, do you know what the Wi-Fi password/situation is?” No matter where you are or what you’re covering, Wi-Fi is coveted as a virtual life-source.  If the team you’re covering is home, then Wi-Fi is a piece of cake. But for visiting journalists, the adventure begins when that laptop screen illuminates.

Even if you manage to get connected, the problems are limitless. Weak signal. Poor connection. It logs you out after 20 minutes. Twitter is blocked. Or worst of all, there is no Wi-Fi (looking at you, high school reporters). I’ve had all of the above happen.

Of course, your company could simply spring for a wireless card, but even that is not immune from the usual pitfalls.

3) Media food and its double-edged sword

Most commonly found covering: Anything

My seventh-grade self was in heaven while I interned with MLB.com covering the Orioles. Everyday, the media food selection was a treasure trove of ballpark food. I started with the gateway stuff -peanuts, a cheeseburger or two- but then moved on to harder stuff -soft serve, cheese dogs, cheese fries and pretty much a total disregard for humanity when it came to appropriate uses of the hot cheese machine. My metabolism gave up a good fight, but had probably had it by the end of the summer.

In my one experience covering an NFL game, there was a buffet before kickoff and then more food at halftime. Needless to say, I ate two dinners.

I don’t know how health-nut sportswriters do it, but I know they exist. Somehow.

Of course, the flip side of this greasy bounty are the experiences of those covering high school sports and mid-to-low major collegiate athletics. With athletic departments which are already pinching pennies, a media meal is far from a sure thing. So the sportswriter scheduled to cover a game starting a 7 p.m. (which means you have to arrive at 6 p.m. or earlier) is left with three options:

-Scarf down an early dinner while eyeing the clock

-Bring cash for the concession stand and awkwardly be the best-dressed patron in line

-Be busy enough during the game that you forget how hungry you are and end up eating a 1 a.m. dinner at Whataburger

4) “So can you get me free tickets?”

Most commonly found covering: Pro teams

No, I cannot get you free tickets. I cannot get you an autograph. I cannot get you a picture taken with a player.

For whatever reason, there always seems to be folks who don’t understand that covering a team does not mean working for that team. So when it comes to freebies, sportswriters have the same non-existent privileges as any normal civilian.

Not to mention, accepting benefits from the team you cover is sorta a big no-no since it could potentially result in bias coverage.

5) Attending any event

Most commonly found covering: Pro teams

“Sorry, I have to cover a game that day.”

Professional teams play many games. And even the league that doesn’t (NFL), still has an offseason that is anything but to the reporters covering it. Spring training, trades, owners’ meetings, some player getting arrested, free agent mayhem -it never really stops.

So the four letters R-S-V-P can be tricky. You’re praying that friend from college doesn’t have his wedding during the playoffs. And if your cousin has his Bar Mitzvah during that crucial five-game road trip, well, sorry kid.

There’s slivers of time to be carved out here and there, but for most sports writers, the calendar can be a treacherous minefield.

Honorable mention:

Reimbursement reports

Getting beat on a story

Angry coaches

Angry players

Angry readers

Angry editors

Others making double the money for doing half the work

Overtime/extra innings

Certain TV people

-Have others you think I left off? Tweet @avi_zaleon or comment below.

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