Well, I suppose this is the part where I plead my case to you fine readers.
Yesterday, Seth waxed poetic about what made him qualified to do his job — a question we seem to field often and a sentiment I’m sure many others in our profession can empathize with.
In short, outside of his degree from East Carolina and a decade-plus of experience, Seth is qualified because his deep love of sports is rooted through a lifetime spent playing all of them. And not only playing them, mind you, but also succeeding at a level that garnered him scholarship opportunities.
That being the case … I think I might not be so qualified.
Don’t get me wrong, I have a degree from Oklahoma State that says I, too, can do this job, but when it comes to athletics, I’m quite the failure.
You see, I’m uncoordinated. All arms and legs with no sense of how to move them. My leaping ability is nonexistent. My 40-yard dash is pitifully slow. My reaction time even more so.
At 25, I’m pretty sure I still couldn’t beat my Dad in a foot race, though he is 30 years my senior.
And I hurt myself constantly.
I’m missing about a third of the hair on my left eyebrow because I split it open when I was little; I lost my balance running around the island in our kitchen and managed to skillfully break my fall with my face.
There’s a 3-inch scar on my right forearm that I earned after losing a fight with a snowman in my front yard. Not a joke.
I broke my left wrist in middle school when I tripped over a fiberglass shark that guarded a gift shop in Corpus Christi, Texas; it still pops when I rotate it.
I sprained my right foot playing a pickup game of ultimate frisbee in high school, and in college I sprained the long toe on that foot trying to dunk a mini basketball through a mini hoop in my dorm room; in both instances, I refused to wear the walking boot afterward.
None of that is to say I didn’t try sports. I did. It just didn’t go so well.
I tried playing soccer when I was in elementary school for just one season; my Mom still keeps the magnet we got for signing up on the fridge at home. I never really understood the rules, and I’m not sure I cared to. Wearing the mustard-yellow polyester jersey was murder under the sweltering Texas sunshine, and the only goal I ever scored came after all the other kids had stopped running and the whistle had blown. I didn’t hear it.
In middle school, I switched to golf. I even took lessons with the pro at our local country club. I never quite figured out how not to shank the ball into the trees, going so far as to overcorrect every shot before I took it. By the time high school rolled around, I had given up on the gentlemen’s game completely in pursuit of another trivial dream: Acting. That didn’t go anywhere either.
Driving the golf cart was fun, though.
So why exactly am I here? Why do you follow me on Twitter or open your papers every morning to see my byline?
Well, like Seth, I love sports, too, but I came to it later in life and on TV. I didn’t watch a football game until I was in the sixth grade, and I didn’t pay any serious attention until a year later. I didn’t watch baseball or basketball until I was a sophomore in high school, and I probably still wouldn’t be if the Texas Rangers and Dallas Mavericks hadn’t made epic postseason runs that year that were easy to get swept up in.
When others got off the bandwagons in subsequent years, though, I stayed aboard, in it until the bitter end, still caught up in the pageantry.
My interest in writing, however, has been slow-cooking like Texas barbecue since … well, to be honest, I can’t remember.
Writing was my best subject in school by far. I wrote short stories and comic books, and I even tried my hand at a novel or two, though none got past the first or second chapter.
When I realized in high school that I could write about sports and get paid for it — get paid to go to games — I made up my mind then and there: I was going to be a sports writer. After two years at community college and two more at Oklahoma State spent working at the O’Colly, the school’s independent student newspaper, I got the shiny piece of cardstock that said I could.
Now, I don’t consider myself a great writer. I wasn’t even the best in my graduating class. But I love to tell stories. I love that this medium gives not only me a voice, but also a voice to those who otherwise would not have one. And I try to do that every time I sit down behind my keyboard.
God willing, one day when this pandemic is over, I’ll get to do it again. Even if I am unqualified.