So I’m sitting in my lovely hotel room in Southeastern Indiana tonight and suddenly I realize I just wasted two days of my life. Those two days were spent covering the opening round of the riveting 2A sectional round of the girls state basketball tournament. I drove nearly two and a half hours, checked in to the local Holiday Inn Express and covered two games in two days for the newspaper I work for. It’s late Wednesday night, I’m done with the work I have to do here and have to checkout by noon tomorrow so I can race back home to cover a boys game. Tomorrow my assignment is to make the match up of an 8-8 team and a 4-13 team sound interesting.
Yes, this is my life.
To let you strangers in on what I just went through over the last two days, in Indiana there are four classes based on the size of your school. In basketball, 4A is the largest, therefore Class A is the smallest. I was covering 2A teams. And smaller schools tend to have pretty bad teams, especially (not to be sexist) in girls basketball.
So I drove here, stayed alone in a random, nothing-above-average hotel and wrote a total of 900 words about two games. Games that featured high school girls playing something that didn’t remotely resemble the game Dr. Naismith envisioned. I’m pretty sure he rolled over in his grave. Several times. In fact, I heard a rumor that Heath Ledger was going to show up to watch these games, but he took the easy way out. Too soon?
Now look, I know lots of people say “oh being a sports writer would be awesome, all you do is watch sports then write about it,” hell I even thought that once. Then I became a sports writer. Oh sure I get to write the occasional column that plays really well with the audience and sometimes you stumble into covering a really interesting or compelling event. But between the angry calls from parents pissed that you spelled their kid’s name wrong or shorted them a rebound in your box score, and the mountain of awful assignments (Hey Ryan why don’t you go cover a wrestling regional this Saturday? Great, it starts at 9:30 a.m. and should be finished no later than 6 p.m.) this gig wears you down. Plus, newspapers are dying. You know the storyline on The Wire about how the newspaper business is going down the toilet and they have to do “more with less?” That’s not just good drama or a clever way to tie something in with the way the city is having to cutback on all of its programs, it’s a reality.
I know you have to start somewhere but over the one and a half years I’ve been doing this I’ve had to cover some pretty awful things.
Example: Over the past two football seasons, I had to cover a small, local high school football team that is currently on a 36-game losing streak. Their last win was by forfeit, they actually lost the game 58-6. The last time they won a game on the field was 52 games ago. They edged out a 26-12 win over the Indiana School for the Deaf. The last time they beat a team that could hear the snap count was in 1998, my senior year of high school. So it has been 97 games and almost 10 years since they’ve actually managed to win a game that should count. And I’ve had to cover them six times. Do you have any idea how hard it is to write a story when the football team you’re covering loses by more than 60 points on a weekly basis?
I digress. The point of this post is that I came all this way for what amounts to no good reason. Yeah I’m getting paid and I guess it’s experience but still, it feels wasted. Plus, I drove for nearly 2.5 hours and watched two excruciating games and no one had the decency to laugh when I answered the question “So are you a reporter?” with the line “No but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.” I’ll never be able to use that joke again and it was a total dud because no one was aware it was a line from a commercial.
So this week’s long road trip brought a few things in to focus for me.
1. I need to workout more or I’m going to start looking like all the guys who sit next to me in press row at these games.
2. Women’s basketball is not, in fact, basketball, therefore we should call it something else. I propose we call it Turnoverball, 25% Ball (to go with the shooting percentages), Hackball or Cure-for-insomniaball. Someone please get on this, calling it basketball is insulting to far too many people.
3. Sometimes, this job really sucks.
4. I wish blogging paid better.
5. This Holiday Inn Express smells like smoke, whiskey and feet.
6. I don’t think I could ever do another job because I love sports so much.
8. Now I know why guys totally sell out and work for ESPN.
9. Casino buffets are horrible.
10. “I write for the newspaper” doesn’t impress girls like it did in college.
11. There is nothing more boring than waiting around in a hotel room, in a middle-of-nowhere Indiana town, to cover something.
12. Having a big truck and driving all over the damn state to cover things isn’t good. Especially when you have to spend the GNP of Belize just to fill up your 25 gallon tank.