One year ago I was your average sport-hater.
I had never watched a full football game other than the Super Bowl. I regularly declined invites to basketball and baseball games. I had never made a fantasy account and never planned to. My only personal sports experience consisted of an undefeated run as left fielder on my fourth grade little league team and three days of cross country in seventh grade before I dropped out. It goes without saying that I never used to read Big Red or the Sports section of the Chronicle.
Everything changed after I covered the varsity field hockey team this fall. I was looking to move away from being a reporter on the Chronicle to focusing more on digital content when one of our current Sports Editors and Big Red Managing Editor Matthew Yam ’18 approached me about joining sports. He said that Sports was short on juniors and that I’d have lots of responsibilities in the section. After some deliberation, I signed on and was assigned a fall sport beat along with all other juniors in the section.
Beat coverage is a simple but rigorous task: cover everything that a team does. Cover every single game that they play, take photos, interview players and, most importantly, write articles based on how the team is doing. Along the way, get to know the team and try and get the most interesting perspectives you can out of the players. As an amateur journalist and a sports writer with no previous experience, the task was extremely daunting.
Little did I know how much I would enjoy it.
Covering field hockey was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. The team went undefeated for the first time, finishing with a 20-0 record and ending the season by winning the LAFHA title. After every game, I’d text the players to get their postgame reactions. While I can’t say I knew exactly what it was like to be on the team, I could feel the joy and passion that all of the players put into the game. I could see the bonds, camaraderie and friendships that formed and all of the hard work that they put in. I’d hear about their intense practicing and lifting schedule one day and hear about their shut out win the next. Players would tell me about the group bonding over lunch and then tell me that those tight bonds helped them read each other and dominate games.
One year later, I can say definitively that I have a different opinion about sports.
Sports is not about throwing a ball around. Sports is not about strength or endurance. Technique is of course important, but the best part of sports is the emotion.
Sports is about relationships with your teammates and bonds that will last for a lifetime. Sports is about determination and hard work that pays off in an undefeated season. Sports is about coming together as a team to support the player out with an injury. Sports is about the impulse for every single player to run into a huddle after the time ran out in the 20th game of the field hockey season that marked the team’s title win.
While I still can’t say that I keep up with basketball, play fantasy or watch a football game from start to finish, I can say that I see sports in a completely new way. I have a new respect. Sports teaches some things that we scarcely find elsewhere: the payoff of hard work, teamwork, discipline and so much more. For all of you who are like me — please learn from my mistakes and maybe take your friend up on that invite to the football game sometime. Sports really are worth your time.