Part of the Job
One reason I wanted to get into sports journalism was the fact that the events you covered were games. Right or wrong, I didn’t want to be a reporter who covers war, crime, or the "real" news that happens on an everyday basis. I have a ton of respect for those journalists who do encounter tragedy and have to write about it. Heading to someone’s house or picking up a phone to talk to someone about losing a loved one just wasn’t for me, though — I’d rather head to a clubhouse after a team’s loss. Thank God there are reporters who chose the other side of news than I did, though. We need them.
I’ve been fortunate enough — from my perspective — to never have had to work in news, either. From my first days at the Lansing State Journal during college, I was put right into the sports department, covering high schools, college sports, and Minor League baseball, among other things. When I moved to another paper in Michigan, I was a sports writer and a part-time news copy editor. I had to lay out news pages, including the Obituaries page a couple times a week, but that was the extent of my life in news coverage.
Why am I writing about this? Well, news doesn’t always stay on it’s side of the tracks. Sometimes it does head into the sports department — it’s an inevitable part of the job that we have to deal with from time to time. When news started to spread that Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle was in the plane that crashed into the 50-story building in New York, us sports reporters were thrust into a world we weren’t used to.
My part in the coverage wasn’t big. Lord knows how hard some of the leg work must have been for writers in New York or Philadelphia, who had the bulk of the calling and interviewing to do. It’s our job to get reaction, and sometimes we feel like jerks calling people to ask them about someone who just died. We are jerks for calling so soon after something like that happens, but it’s part of the job. It’s what we have to do — not necessarily what we want to do.
In my case, I had to call a few players who knew Lidle from his time with the Blue Jays. I got in touch with a handful of players, some who were willing to talk about it, and others who chose not to, which was perfectly fine. It was definitely tough, though, to think about what I should say on the phone, trying to find a way to see if the person on the other line had heard the news already — and if not, how was I going to break it to them? I didn’t run in to anyone who hadn’t heard, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a difficult subject to bring up.
When a few of us reporters were trying to figure out how to approach the issue, one writer said to me, "I don’t know how to handle a story like this." That’s the reality of being a sports writer, but the truth is we do have to deal with such stories from time to time. It definitely helps put our job into perspective — how lucky we are to simply cover a game. It shows you how unimportant some of the things we write about really are — even if we blow them up to be of some huge significance.
Anyway, I know this isn’t really a blog post about the Blue Jays — it’s more about part of the life of being a reporter. When I started this blog, I mentioned that I may delve into such topics on occasion. Being a young reporter, I’m still learning different things about the job as I go (not that older reporters don’t learn knew things every year, either).
Today I read about the runway mishap by Alex Rodriguez’s plane, too. One thing that I also found interesting was an article that appeared in the Toronto Sun. Apparently, Roy Halladay wanted to add a clause into his contract in 2004 that allowed him to fly a small plane, but the Jays wouldn’t allow it. After Lidle’s accident, Toronto’s caution is understandable.
That’s all for now. Hopefully you all didn’t mind my rambling on this subject. On another note, picking the A’s isn’t looking so smart right now, huh. All my Tigers fans friends from Michigan are going to let me have it for sure. Well, if Detroit does indeed make the World Series, I’ll be picking St. Louis or New York to win it all. For some reason, I can’t pick the Tigers. It’s worked for Detroit up to this point for me to go against them, so I know my friends will be glad to hear I’m still picking their opponent in the next round.