BLOG: Being a sportswriter means leaving your “fan hat” at home

On senior night last week volleyball completed arguably one of their greatest victories ever as they defeated archrival Walsh University in four sets with scores of 25-20, 15-25, 26-24 and 25-22. I was there as a fan, not a sportswriter.

Senior hitter Megan Fisher leaps for a spike in a three set loss to Cedarville University earlier this fall. For the first time, this reporter was able to watch this lone senior on the volleyball team as a fan, not a reporter. (Photo courtesy of Andy Smith)

In fact, last week’s epic upset victory was the first Pioneer game I have gone to as a member of “Pioneer Nation” during my time at Malone.

Over the past few years, since I decided to major in journalism and write sports articles, I have gone to plenty of games as the student with a notepad and pen.

Having “school spirit” or being a fan was never truly an option for me because every time I went to a game I always reported the action for Aviso AVW.

Last Tuesday, however, was an exception because of the date of the game. Since it was on publication day it allowed me to dismiss the idea of reporting the game for that issue or the next issue because by the following Tuesday the result would be old news.

It gave me the flexibility to go to my first game as a fan and I have to admit, I forgot what it is like to be a fan for your school’s teams.

One of the first journalistic principles all writers, particularly sportswriters, learn is the value of objectivity. As journalists, we are expected to report the news to our audience for our particular perspective, whether it is good or bad.

A sportswriter is not supposed to sugarcoat a game or hammer a team for not making a play. They are to be fair and honest in their assessment and reporting of the outcome, telling all the angles of the story from their university’s perspective.

If it is bad, show why it is bad and vice versa. To do this effectively, and to namely avoid sugarcoating for the university’s teams, a sportswriter must have objectivity.

It is the number one goal for any good sportswriter and something taken very seriously in sports writing circles.

Actually to be rooting for your side during a game you are reporting on is the number one cardinal sin of sports reporting. It is taboo. In fact, I have heard about sportswriters getting kicked out of press boxes for rooting for the team they are covering.

Having objectivity in this business is not something to be taken lightly. Fans expect sportswriters, whom are reporting on the game, to be objective and tell them when their team was amazing or when they sucked. These reporters have a job to do and it is protocol for them to act professional and leave their figurative “pom-poms” at home.

For the last two and a half years this has been what is expected of me when I cover Pioneer teams for Aviso AVW. It is the job. So I sit at the games, usually in the press box and not in the stands, and report on the game at hand with an objective mindset. I go from being a Malone University student and fan to a reporter.

Last week, on the other hand, I finally got to reverse the roles again. I was allowed to hoot and holler and act crazy in a frenzied and packed stands of fans.

I jumped up and down, screamed my heart out, beat my hands red from clapping, partially lost my voice and sat on the edge of my seat on every serve, every point because this is what fans do.

Once again, I was able to experience being a fan and not a reporter for my school. It was different, without a doubt, and it was a certainly a change from the normal routine. It was liberating, too, because I could fist pump when senior Megan Fisher or one of the other ladies slammed a spike across the net for a kill for “our” Pioneers.

For once, I didn’t have to hold back my emotions and I didn’t have to uphold some professional integrity. I was able to not be the student with the notepad and pen; instead I was like everyone else, a fan whose heart collectively beats with its fellow fans and team.

I won’t get that same experience next Monday, though, when women’s basketball plays at home. Instead I will go back to the student with a notepad and pen, a journalist, not a fan. However, I hope I get to be a fan again before I leave Malone because sometimes, being a fan is more fun.

Chris Sherwood is sports editor for Aviso AVW.


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