February 22, 2012 -
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune...
I would never compare the totality of my contributions to the world as even mildly similar to that of a doctor, musician, or soldier. But that doesn't mean I don't find myself rushing against the clock for the good of others, searching constantly for inspiration, and even standing in a field of land mines. (Hey, metaphors are part of this job.)
Like most any profession, there are areas of this business that go largely untold, and all too often you find yourself trying to make sense of situations for which you had never thought to prepare. I suppose when you shoot for the stars, sometimes you end up on the dark side of the moon. But I quickly find that where light is cast and shadows fall is entirely dependent on my own perception, and my perception of myself as a sports journalist is formed entirely through a continuously renewing sense of gratitude.
In life, the pessimistic approach, it seems, is always the easiest route. After all, I hear much more from folks about a spilled cup of coffee than the fine job their Cuisinart did in making it. As a sports broadcaster, my cup is no different. It spills. But here is my validation, with 2 creams and 2 sugars: At the end of the day, I received compensation for covering sports.
My cup runneth over.
Along the way, I do correct misconceptions. I wear a suit and tie, but only on television. The other hours of the day, I might as well lace up some Nike's and hike up some gym shorts, because I'm running for miles. I sweat - physically, and most of all, mentally - to get what I need. After all, we only have so much time before our show starts, and so many things to cover.
But that's nothing new in this job. What is new is everything else that has come along with the coverage. Facebook, Twitter, the company web site. In the sports office, it's truly enough for another full-time position to be created, and that means "full time." 24/7, as communications never stop. But in the social media realm, that job is my responsibility as well. I wouldn't want it to be anyone else's, because that means someone else had the story when it first happened, when it all went down. That means I was nowhere to be found as a story unfolded and developed, became something we remember.
It reminds me of what ESPN Radio's Colin Cowherd said on his show "The Herd" a few months back. He said, "You can't take a day off in this business because there is someone out there every single day who is getting better, and better. And soon, they'll be able to do your job better than you."
The barometer right now for who is doing their job well is on Twitter and Facebook.
Social media doesn't offer more pay or better benefits. It is our personal responsibility to our craft. It asks us consistently throughout the day how much we have left in the tank to make one more post, to reach out to one more group, to try to increase that following that seems to be the primary reason for marketing yourself. The thing is, I've never met anyone who completely succeeded at that, AND managed to do the same in their personal life. Actual friends, as we knew them before Zuckerburg added his definition, seem harder to come by when everybody's on their cell phones.
Some day I think I'll figure it out, but I know that striking a balance will mean that the work side of my life will have to make room for something else. And right now, I can't see doing anything less than what I do now as acceptable. I want to check my Twitter feed and compile statistics. I want to fill next week's schedule. I want to watch this game. I want to write this blog.
Among the mine field, I naturally watch where I step, avoiding any sign of missed opportunity, any chance to do less than a competitor. And somehow, I catch my breath, and can only feel gratitude to those who believe I can do this, and who in doing so, allow me to make a living... watching sports.
At it's foundation, that is still all it is. Who could ever complain?
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