May 7, 2006

Former Sports Editor Looks Back to the Start

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When I arrived at Cornell I had one mission – to hook up with as many girls as I possibly could. So one day during Orientation Week, my freshman-year roommate and I went on a search. We scoured our dorm, Court Hall, and then ran through the Low Rises, Jameson, Dickson, and even in the Townhouses. Yet it wasn’t until we made it to the fourth floor of Donlon that I found a keeper.

She was sitting on her inflatable couch with a baseball cap on – she was one of the prettiest girls that I had ever seen. Her door was open, so I brazenly walked right in and sparked up a conversation. Before I left I wrote my phone number on the white board on her door.

It took a couple of months for us to feel out the college world and each other, but inevitably we started dating. It didn’t take very long before the two of us fell in love.

I came to school looking for as little commitment as I possibly could – and I ended up passionately committed not only to a girl, but also a newspaper.

The summer before I arrived at Cornell I read the late Dick Schaap’s ’55 autobiography. He spoke of his life as a sports journalist, and how that journey began at The Cornell Daily Sun. So before I even stepped foot on campus, I e-mailed the sports section to see if I could write for them.

I started out as everybody does – writing about the lesser-known sports at Cornell. But I didn’t care – I had found my niche and life was good.

The summer before my sophomore year I applied to have my own column in the paper, but I didn’t have enough seniority yet. But the Sports Editor at the time agreed to let me write a few opinion pieces about life on the sprint football team, as it was my second year being on the team.

About a week before my column was to appear for the first time, the editor told me that I needed to come up with a name for it. So for days, I agonized over it, until it finally came to me.

One night that girl and I were watching one of my favorite movies, Any Given Sunday, and it got to the part where Willie Beamen, played by Jamie Foxx, sees his ex-girlfriend out on a date. He corners her in the women’s bathroom of the restaurant (it’s a movie) and he asks her how her date is going with “the mortician,” referring to the other guy. She responds to the wiseass remark by saying that he is just jealous because the new guy is tall. Then, he quips back with the line, “He may be tall, but can he ball?” (I learned after that I actually misquoted the line, but oh well.)

Though I had seen the movie a few times, something caught me when I heard the line this time, and I jokingly told the girl that if I saw her out with another guy, I would use it.

She apparently had an epiphany too, and excitedly told me that I should use the line for the name of my column. It was perfect – a great line from a sports movie to be the name of my new sports column. He May Be Tall was born.

It was also a great name for me being that I was once generously listed at 5-8 on the sprint football website (I’m actually only 5-6).

Since then, many people have come up to me thinking the name meant that, just by looking at my picture (which only is from the neck up), one could think that I might be tall. While that is a good guess, it’s not the case. The name is more of a tribute to myself (haha) – a short kid who can play ball.

And despite the fact that I misquoted the movie, and that girl and I haven’t dated for over two years now, I couldn’t think of a more appropriate column name in my constant pursuit to represent the little people with big dreams.

K

So, oddly enough, I have to thank you first, Alicia, not just for coming up with the name of this column, but also for being there for me in those early stages. Even though our paths don’t cross as much anymore, I am glad that you too have found your niche at Cornell. I hope you make it to Mars one day.

Mom and Dad, I realize that this isn’t the most conventional career path in the world, but you guys have come to accept it, and for that I am very appreciative. Oh yeah, and also for putting me through college. I love you guys.

Bill, you may be the biggest pain in the ass the world has ever seen. But you have always shown me the correct path to take and I am very grateful for that, because it landed me here at Cornell. Thanks for being a good big bro.

Also, a quick shout out to all the guys in my pledge class. It’s been a great ride, and I appreciate when you guys read my stuff.

Next, I want to thank all of the players, coaches and administrators who I have had to cover over my four years here. Chad Pennington was right when he said that it is a privilege to cover all of you, because you give us memories that will last a lifetime. You are excellent athletes, teachers, and businessmen, which make people love to read about what you are doing. However, Chad was also wrong – because athletes are privileged as well. They are lucky because they have such a talented collection of journalists who choose to write about them, which leads me to thank the entire sports staff that worked for me. I know that I got on you guys (and girls) plenty about deadlines and midweeks, but all of you went above and beyond your duties – which made my life a whole lot easier. You are an excellent group of writers and I look for big things out of all of you in the future.

Next I want to thank all of my former editors. First, Amanda Angel, thank you for making me a part of the sports team. I didn’t come down to the old office as much as I should have, but you were a big help when I was a stupid freshman who didn’t know how to write. Alex Ip, thank you for constantly getting on me when I was training to be an assistant. If you hadn’t told me that I sucked, I would have thought I was the best editor this place has ever seen – so thanks for putting me in my place.

Scott Jones and Matt Janiga, you guys were probably two of the funniest people I have ever encountered at The Sun. Jones used his “Jesus Card” with the ladies whenever he could, which I’ve got to respect, and Janiga used his power as a dork to become one of the most disgustingly humorous people at Cornell. Good work guys.

Next big ups to the coolest set of Assistant Sports Editors this place will ever see – Kyle Sheahen and E.J. Hullverson. Oh yeah, and me. We made this section what it is today, which is a group of drunks who finds a new way to wasted on every road trip. Also, we made everyone else at The Sun, and at Cornell, jealous because, as Zoolander would say, we were really, really, really ridiculously good looking. But I think our crowning achievement throughout the year was to make our boss much less anal and much, much cooler.

Which brings me to you, Owen Bochner. Though our styles greatly differed, there is no person in this world that I can say taught me more about this field than you. Every night when I left the office as your assistant, I was pissed because no matter how much I checked the pages, you would find something wrong with them. But I wouldn’t have had it any other way, because you taught me how to be a good Sports Editor, and I tried my best to follow in your footsteps. Thank you.

When I did become Sports Editor, I was really nervous and wanted to do the best job that I could, and without my three assistants, that would not have been possible. Olivia, I always laugh when I think that the first article you ever did was on my brother. Anyway, despite the fact you are a girl, I am proud of you every time that I read the paper. I know that the section is in good hands. Just please, don’t kick my ass anymore. Brain, my right hand man, the sports section had more to do during our term than it probably has had to in any of the 125 previous years and without your tireless work ethic, the section would not have been as successful – so thanks Zao baby. And Pepper, if we didn’t have you, we could have done even more this year. Just kidding. You did me a huge favor by making road trips to some of the football games that I couldn’t go to. I think you just went because you have a crush on Coach Knowles, but hey, that’s okay with me. I’m sure that after reading this, he’d love to grill some steaks with you.

Next, Paul, Tim and Josh, I can’t say enough about the progress you all have made since you started – you have all impressed me. And I know you guys work for a girl who doesn’t know the difference between the San Francisco Giants and the New York Giants, but be nice to her, because she’s the boss now.

Next, I can’t forget Schroeder, who saved me from many embarrassing moments and who taught me the capitalization in a headline rule, and also Linda and Jeremy, who designed countless supplements for us. Thank you all.

Also, good luck to the new editors. You have really progressed into something special, I’m really miss you guys, especially Carlos, my favorite Mexican, and my two favorite design girls, Claire and Emily, or Emily and Claire. Same thing.

I would be remiss if I didn’t thank all the members of the 123rd and everyone else who helped put papers together with us every night. Ali and Rob, I always loved your awesome pictures, even though Ali’s were always so much better. It’s a daily, not a weekly, right Pivoda? Also, to Zach, Amy, Logan, the rest of the design girls (and you too, Will), and all the news editors (especially you, Fink) – The Sun wouldn’t have been the same without you guys.

I also have to say thanks to you, Per. When you e-mailed me and said you were coming back, it was like a godsend – you are the most talented journalist I have ever come across and I wish you luck next year.

Eric, like Owen and I, we had very different styles, but our love for baseball and the newspaper always superseded them. You were always there when we needed you – mostly because you were always there. You were a great Managing Editor, and I wish you lots of luck in the future.

Temel, first I want to apologize for running out on you all of those Tuesday nights, leaving you to do the news update and take the flats to those sketchy night workers at the Journal. But seriously, you were my best friend at The Sun, and that’s really cool when you can say that about somebody you worked for. I am so impressed by what you were able to achieve this year, and though I may be biased, I think that you were the best Editor in Chief that The Sun has ever seen. Good luck next year. I know this sounds weird, but I’m sure you’ll do just fine in a male-dominated world.

And finally, thank you to all the people that read this column. It has been my distinct honor and privilege to write for all of you.

I’m sure that when I graduate I’ll be sad, but to be honest, I feel like my life at Cornell is going to be complete with this last words of this column. So, with that said, I’ll see all you kids on the slope!!!

Chris Mascaro is a former Sun Sports Editor. He May Be Tall has appeared every other Friday this semester. Eat shit and die, and good luck with everything else. The newsroom will never be the same without you.