Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Life of a sports writer isn’t just for games

DISCLAIMER: This piece is the opinion of the writer and does not represent the opinion of Cardinal Points as a whole. As with almost any news story, there’s a give-and-take dynamic between reporters and their sources.

The world of sports journalism is definitely fun, as most are covering sports because that’s what they enjoy most. But the job of a sports reporter can get misconstrued by fans and athletes.

To fans, who wouldn’t want to get paid to watch sports, talk to athletes and write or talk about it? What a life, huh?

And sure, I wouldn’t be going to school and studying journalism — and preparing to study it further next year in graduate school — if I didn’t want to do this for a living, but it’s far from easy.

In my time as sports editor for Cardinal Points from January 2013 to May 2014, a week for me would consist of somewhere between one and four stories (usually closer to the latter) and late nights editing and designing the section.

Friday and Saturday afternoons and nights were the typical times for sports games. Men’s hockey — my beat for two winter seasons — started games at 7 p.m., although I was there at least an hour early, often in a suit and tie, to look over the rosters for both teams and get my laptop hooked up and ready for writing and sending out Twitter updates.

When fans were celebrating the closing minutes of a Plattsburgh State victory, I was scrambling down to the Fieldhouse basement to meet the coach and players outside the locker room for some quick questions to complement my story, which had to be on our website within an hour.

The media does a lot for sports. Without constant, entertaining coverage, sports as a business and source of entertainment just wouldn’t exist. In reality, sports is what it is today because of those who provide it coverage.

In my time here, most of the people I’ve come across, from Sports Information to the players and coaches, have been consistently great to work with, making interviews work between our busy schedules.

But I’ve had my fair share of politely declined interviews, people that hardly say a word and even an instance of getting cursed at and walked away from after a tough loss just because I asked if I could ask a few questions about the game.

It happens, but it’s not going to deter me.

So if you’re a fan or reader, hopefully I’ve effectively communicated to you just what we do as sports journalists. It’s a great job, and I look forward to continuing to evolve as a professional.

And if you’re one of the players or coaches who might be inclined to give us a hard time, here at PSUC or elsewhere, understand that we’re just doing our job. While a loss or bad performance can hurt, you shake it off and move on.

But if we don’t get our story in? In the real world, we get fired. I’m thinking a few minutes of your time to help us out and get your team some free exposure could be worth it for both of us, don’t you?

Email Zachary Ripple at cp@cardinalpointsonline.com

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