Michael Jordan calmly made both of his free throws, and there were just 5.8 seconds remaining in overtime.
At that point, I turned to one of my fellow DP reporters on press row in disbelief to say, "Oh my God, we're actually going to win."
Penn beat Temple that evening. The Quakers upset a squad that was ranked in the top 10 and had recently beaten No. 1 Michigan State. I was a sophomore, and it was the first time I had ever covered a game in the Palestra. It's a memory I'll always carry with me.
I love Penn sports, and that is why I poured so much of myself into this newspaper these past four years. The school pride and excitement I felt as I watched the crowd spill onto the court while the band played "The Red and Blue" showed me why.
In the end, whether or not Penn beat Temple that night didn't matter, because in the end, sports results don't really matter.
But here at the DP, we sports writers call ourselves DPOSTM. That stands for the Daily Pennsylvanian's Only Staff That Matters.
Last week, I was talking with one of my best friends, who also happens to be the DP's current managing editor. He said to me, "You know, there is really no such thing as DPOSTM. You're not the only staff that matters."
Well, I guess the other staffs at the DP do matter somewhat, but the sports staff is unique.
And it's not just because we have certain traditions that we repeat every year or that we give everyone a nickname or that our office walls are covered with photos from years ago.
It's because of what we do.
Last December, I wrote a column on my final night as sports editor. I related my situation to those of two of my favorite Penn athletes, Kelli Toland and Diana Caramanico. Each of us knew that a major part of our collegiate experience was ending, and we didn't know exactly how to feel. It didn't matter whether it was soccer, basketball or a newspaper sports section, the feeling was basically the same.
After that column ran, numerous readers, including people I barely knew, told me that it touched them. Hearing that was probably the best feeling I've had as a sports writer. Words I wrote had an impact on people who read them.
I respect all of the work that college athletes put into their craft, and it was my job to report on that.
To most readers of the DP, the result of a tennis match or a volleyball game does not matter. But to the players on those teams, it is the most important story in the newspaper.
I always kept that in mind while writing my stories, knowing that the effort the athletes put into their work required me to do the same.
I did it as objectively and professionally as I could, but working for a college sports section is not the same as working for a professional paper. Professional sports writers don't sit next to their subjects in class or split a pitcher of beer with them at Smoke's. I did.
While I always remained objective in my stories, I was quite partial in my heart. It was the toughest part of this job. The reporters from the Inquirer and the Daily News didn't have to restrain themselves from jumping out of their seats when Mike made those free throws.
Sports excite people. They invest time, energy and emotion into them. Sometimes they succeed and sometime they fail. Sports displays humanity. And capturing that humanity was what I enjoyed most, especially because I knew I was reporting on the endeavors of other members of the Penn community.
That's why there really is such a thing as DPOSTM. Our stories have something that you'll never find in a story about Freshgrocer or the Penn Police. That's why we matter. And before I finish, I would like to thank the people who helped me to see that.
To the Penn athletes and coaches, for giving us something to write about. We respect what you do, and I would especially like to thank the many of you who respect what we do in return.
To my early editors, especially Josh and Kent, you showed me how to do this job and the importance of putting so much care into it.
To my non-sports co-editors, spending time with you in the office always brightened my day.
To Eric, Spector and Will, I couldn't imagine working with three better co-editors or friends.
To my parents, for understanding why the DP often took priority over things like sleep and schoolwork.
And finally to DPOSTM, I've seen this section improve a lot over these four years. Know the importance of this staff. Always remember why we matter and always approach each story with the care and effort it deserves. And thank you for giving me the best time of my life.Comments powered by Disqus
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