Like any other student in the world I’ve switched around my focus and made some changes in what I want my future to look like. Out of nowhere I made the decision that I wanted my focus to be sports media. To some that doesn’t make sense. How could I be wanting to go into sports? Some may even judge do I even know sports?
It was while I was working on my article “Behind the Jersey” when I set up a photo session with Kidd, a women’s basketball player, for Sam, the photographer assigned to my story, at Hilton Coliseum.
It was when I was helping Sam set up while we waited for Kidd in an empty Hilton that I realized I wanted to work for athletics.
It was dead silent and you could only hear faint noises from the locker rooms. I stood in the middle of the basketball court and I took it all in. I’d never been on the court before and there was something magical about the way it felt to look out to all the empty seats, stand in the spot I had watched some of my favorite athletes play, the court I had learned to love a sport I didn’t always love.
It was in that moment that it hit me that I wanted to be on the sidelines, behind the cameras, behind the words that people subscribed to read for any sport, really.
I sometimes let people push me down with their “funny” comments about how I don’t know sports, or shouldn’t I focus more on working for a magazine in a lifestyle sections, or maybe I should tackle political journalism but the more and more I uncover the layers my love for sports has always been evident.
My time as an athlete was short, I ran track for two years, but I can still remember the way my stomach was in knots while I was stretching and getting myself set up on my blocks. The way I felt the anticipation surge through my body as I waited to hear the gun signaling me to take off. I loved wearing my uniform, and I loved being able to start a race, or stand on the sidelines and cheer on all my teammates.
I still remember the time Bryan Poulter, the head wrestling coach, made me cry when he wrote me a passive aggressive note (I can be sensitive) in my record keeping book when I was a wrestling manager. He told me I needed to work on my team scoring. I was off cause I was just learning. I didn’t know a single thing about wrestling and all it took was for a close friend and an assistant coach who sat with me and walked me through stuff that today as a junior in college I can sit through a whole wrestling meet and still tell you exactly what is going on in a match. Something not many of my friends can do.
It’s through three years of being a wrestling manager with proper teaching that I took film, and stats, my commitment only made tasks like cleaning mats, filling water bottles and helping announce at wrestling tournaments that I learned to love a sport so greatly. If there’s any regret is not taking Poulters advice in seeking a job with Iowa State’s wrestling team.
I loved the way it felt to be on the side of the mat in control of stat keeping and being so hands on with the team stuff. I’ll never forget sitting in the rain my senior year to watch my best friends play their last football home game, or when I drove to Woodward all the way from Colfax with friends to watch the girls play their last basketball game our senior year as well. I’ve always just loved being on the sidelines as a supporter and I’d love it even more being hands on as I was as a wrestling manager.
No, I may not know everything about sports, but I’m one step further than a lot of those people who may claim to know so much. My love and appreciation for the art of athletics is so much more meaningful because I am taking the initiative to continue to be involved beyond my couch and a TV. All it takes is employers and people in athletics to take the time to guide me and take a chance on me the way Poulter did when I was just a clueless sophomore looking for something to be involved in with friends. It was that chance that I looked forward to wrestling season beyond just the social aspect but being a member of the team.
Ultimately sports aren’t just a bunch of people running a few laps, wrestling another guy, people shooting a ball, it’s so much more than that. It’s the loyalty of fan bases. It’s the love the athletes have for what they do. They don’t just wake up and decide they’re going to be athletes to make the money because it isn’t that simple. It isn’t a bunch of stuck up college kids who got lucky and made it. It’s so much more than that. Sure, its easy to see what is on the surface. Niang wouldn’t have choked up during his senior speech if this was just a fun position to be in for the status. Niang, like many other athletes, often can have negative reputations as well. I’ve heard one too many times he’s a douche, stuck up or rude, yet the love he has for the fans who have supported him, the staff and teammates who have pushed him is so much more evident to me than the negative comments about him.
If it was just a game, Peyton Manning, who originally didn’t want to play also choked up during his official retirement announcement after years of commitment to the world of football. Sports brings people together. It makes teams into families.It makes family bonds stronger as we see in the Manning family. It isn’t always about the paychecks and the success but the love people have for something like sports whether reporting or playing.
I’m a firm believer the media controls the world. I have a soft heart, and I’m really passionate. The media has the power to manipulate and control a lot of things and when I try to envision a world where I can put out all my passion and love for the art of writing and the media, a place where I don’t have to fit a mold of what topic sounds sexier or what political angle am I feeling ballsy enough to tackle, a world of subjects too controlled..
sports only made sense to me.