So here I am sitting in the same exact spot as I did back on September 15, 1997, and I'm having the same exact problem -- I have no idea what to write.
My first beat as a Daily Pennsylvanian sports writer was lightweight football (now known as sprint football). On that September night, my assignment was to write a season preview. In all honesty, the article was pretty terrible. The quotes said nothing of substance. I listed every player on the roster and his mother just to fill space. And come to think of it, I didn't even come close to filling all the space designated for my article.
Starting an article is not always easy. In fact, I think it is usually the most challenging aspect of journalism. However, for the first time since I wrote that lightweight football preview, today I literally stared at the computer screen for half an hour before I came up with something.
This article could take several paths. I could talk about the roadtrips to Hutch and other venues around the Northeast. I could talk about the attractive woman responsible for my DPOSTM nickname. I could talk about Dave "Zigmund" Zeitlin and Aaron "Boubakar" Searson. I could thank Haggs for being such a supportive editor.
But instead I'm going to talk about the most valuable lesson I've learned from my experience with the DP -- sports journalism is not for me.
Sometime during my sophomore year, former DP Sports Editor Tom Hill came to speak to us about careers in journalism.
While I don't remember much of what he said, one thing will always stick out in my mind. He was a DP sports editor in the fall of 19'6 when the New York Mets won the World Series. As a diehard Mets fan, he skipped class and went to the tickertape parade. Years later, he covered the Mets for the New York Daily News.
When I heard that, I thought that must be the coolest thing in the world. At the time there was nothing I'd want more than to cover the Philadelphia Flyers for a major newspaper in this city. But then he said that his feelings toward the Mets had changed. His passion for the Mets was replaced by the objectivity necessary to be a good reporter.
And with that, I realized I could never be a sports writer. Tom Hill was 100 percent right. Luckily, you can get away with being a little biased at the DP. After all, we write about Penn sports and we go to Penn, so everyone knows whom we are rooting for.
In January 1999, I realized my goal as a DP reporter by writing my first men's basketball article. A couple of weeks later I sat in the Palestra with tears trickling down my face until the security guard kicked me out after Penn's infamous 50-49 loss to Princeton.
Could you imagine if I tried to cover the basketball team for The Philadelphia Inquirer? This conflict of interest just wouldn't work, so I've decided to retire my tape recorder in favor of maintaining my passion for sports.
This is not to say that I didn't enjoy my four years at the DP. It was one of the best experiences of my life.
Nevertheless, it is time for me to bid adieu, not only to Penn, but also to my career as a sports writer.
I will miss it dearly, but not as much as I will miss saying these three words:
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