March 12, 2008

Fighting Your Inner Fan

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From the second I started writing for the Sun, I knew I wanted to cover the men’s basketball team. When I became an Assistant Sports Editor, I could have chosen to do any sport. Generally, covering hockey or wrestling (which are typically the stronger, more nationally-known winter programs) would be a sports writer’s top choice at the Sun. But not for me. After sitting all by my lonesome sometimes in Newman Arena during freshman year, to living next to and becoming good friends with some of the players, the choice to cover the men’s basketball team was almost natural.
With Penn graduating its top players and the Red brining in and/or back some key members, my personal sense of excitement was high as soon as the 2006-07 season ended. I started thinking about covering the team as it journeyed to the NCAA tournament. Everything from the grueling Ivy League matchups, to the possible upsets of high major Division I programs to the large crowds at Newman Arena.
Covering the team this year, without a doubt has been one of the most enjoyable, professional — somewhat — experiences I have had at Cornell.
Despite having to write recaps, previews and feature stories on a consistent basis, I don’t find the job too challenging. It’s pretty easy to stay abreast of happenings and be excited about the team seeing as how I am a student here and basketball is my favorite sport.
Actually, the hardest thing for me to do has been trying to find a balance between being a journalist and a fan. I remember the first home game against Lehigh, when many students came to Newman Arena excited to see this year’s team which received so much preseason hype. I sat in the middle of the crowd, at the time working for Cornell Athletic Communications, videotaping the game for the live video internet stream.
I was so wrapped up in the game, I was terrible at filming. I didn’t follow the ball correctly, the camera was shaky. I couldn’t help it. I had to pump my fist with every nailed 3-pointer. I had to give high-fives to the person sitting next to me on every big play. It’s not that I wanted the people watching over the internet to get pissed at the camera work, it was simply the fact that being a fan and being a professional is a challenge.
Maybe if this were a yearly occurrence on East Hill, I wouldn’t have been as excited. But to see what the team has evolved to since I have been here is a cause for overzealousness.
My dear beloved Sports Editor, Cory Bennett — who covers the team with me — knows my struggle. For the past couple of weekends, I have opted to pass on press row seats and sit amongst Newman Nation and cheer. Cory, God bless his soul, would sit on press row with his Mac and take notes and try to be a journalist. He knew that if he looked out the corner of his eye, he would see me … Big Red foam finger and all. And yet, he stayed strong.
Don’t get it confused though, Cory struggles just like I do, it’s just that he puts up a better fight against his “internal fan” — if that makes any sense to you. But two weekends ago, when everybody rushed the court after beating Harvard and Ithaca turned into madness, who did I find jumping up and down uncontrollably in dress slacks and button-down shirt? Mr. Cory Bennett. … I mean, we — us journalists — are human too.
So here’s to the men’s basketball team. Keep making the job difficult.