A sports writer’s musings: I finally covered an event alongside my biggest hero
In my first year studying journalism at MU, worlds collided with the longtime Post-Dispatch scribe at the SEC Tournament in St. Louis.
Mar. 20, 2018
An hour before tipoff of Missouri’s eventual win against Tennessee in January, I was strolling toward the media entrance to Mizzou Arena with Vahe Gregorian, a sports columnist for the Kansas City Star and one of my biggest role models in journalism, who happened to have been available to graciously give this college student’s tired legs a ride that night.
As we were circling the building, Vahe turned to me and pointed something out.
“You know, it’s funny; I’ve done this probably a hundred times with your dad,” he said, referring to the walk into a venue to cover a sporting event. “Now I’m doing it with his son.”
This March, I got to make that walk with my biggest role model, my dad, for the first time.
This is where I should ask for your forgiveness, because this is not a story carrying any Missouri basketball news, nor is it a game recap, profile or feature of any sort.
This is about personal experience. So pardon me for momentarily ignoring the third-person veil between beat writer and reader.
Regarding that veil: When I go to cover an event, I’m there to bring information and insight to you, the person who is hopefully reading this right now either on our website or in a paper on campus. I’m not there for me. But that being said, journalists are still people, and especially as a student journalist who may not have his content read as much as professionals, every event is also a personal opportunity — an opportunity to surround myself with the process of game coverage, an opportunity to get better.
So covering the men’s basketball SEC Tournament in St. Louis a couple of weeks ago was of course beyond exciting in more ways than one — none more so than covering an event alongside Stu Durando for the first time.
Not shadowing him for an evening or waiting after a game for him to finish a write-up, but being independently credentialed to work alongside him.
So naturally, I couldn’t help but snicker when the long-time St. Louis Post-Dispatch scribe turned to me during one of the games, cringing to suppress an embarrassed laugh of his own, and asked if he could borrow a pen from me.
The tournament was full of those little moments; finding him multitasking in the workroom, finishing a story write-up while calling me over to share updates on the postseason exploits of his usual beat, Saint Louis University; turning to him and the rest of the Post-Dispatch crew to share in a moment of mixed hilarity and disgust at one team’s radio producer cheering on Press Row; meeting for a quick goodbye hug under the arena while surrounded by other writers before I departed for Columbia.
It’s due to him and my ex-sports writing mom (who ties him for that No. 1 role-model ranking) that I’m now an undertaker in this trade to begin with. They once founded a school newspaper while I was at Avery Elementary. I joined in second grade; I had nothing better to do. I loved it.
Over the years since then, I’ve followed my dad on work trips from his days on the SLU beat to the Illinois beat and back to SLU.
I learned from his and my mom’s experiences more than anything. I learned what it meant to be a sports writer, and I learned what parts of the job were most loved and least loved.
I learned that one of the most important — and most enjoyable — parts of being a sports writer is seeking out and telling unique stories. We are inherently compelled by a good story, especially one about family.
Covering the SEC Tournament with dad, I was lucky to be a part of one of those stories.
Edited by Joe Noser | firstname.lastname@example.org