Ever read a sports story and ask the question, “What makes you qualified to report on this?”
You’re not alone.
It’s an honest question to ask, and — when criticism tends to rear its ugly head — it’s easily the one I field most. In fact, I just woke up to that very email this morning — even amid the cancellations and postponements of our current sports world
I get it. We all have our respected media personalities and our favorite writers we lean on for their hot takes and coverage. When we agree, we tout their sage wisdom. When we disagree, we tend to take it personally.
Strong personalities tend to bring that out. Sports tend to bring that out.
So what makes me qualified to report on the area sports scene, to enter into your home or phone or tablet every morning through prose?
Well, aside from my journalism degree from East Carolina University, I’m not sure there’s a right answer for that. But I can at the very least fill you in on my deep-rooted love for sports.
After all, ever since I could walk, sports have been my life, my happiness.
My dad grew up in Houston, thus connecting my fandom to all things Astros, Rockets, Oilers/Texans. My mom at one point coached high school basketball and was an avid bowler. Both were tall, athletic and understood the camaraderie, the relationships, the leadership and values that organized sports built and instilled.
So it was just natural that I played everything growing up.
By the age of 6, I had a tennis racket and golf club in my hand. Home run derbies were the norm in my front yard. I had a soccer net in my backyard. Epic games of H-O-R-S-E were driveway routines with my brother, Jordan, and dad.
In an age before travel ball truly took over, where your birthday parties revolved around your seasonal teammates, where playing outside superseded the internet, I knew no other reality than filling my time with sports.
By high school I played tennis, golf and ran track and cross country.
I ran a 16:18 5K in high school. I shot a 71 in the county championship as a sophomore. I played No. 1 singles as a senior on the tennis team.
I was a multi-sport athlete to a tee in high school, receiving Division II and Division III interests before instead opting to go to ECU as simply a student.
Once there, intramurals and pick-up basketball games consumed my life. But that wasn’t enough — so I began writing for the college newspaper, the East Carolinian.
There I covered a ranked men’s tennis program, running back Chris Johnson — who’d become CJ2K for the Titans — and draft prospects on a top-10 baseball program.
Fifteen years later, I’ve been on the sidelines for it all — from arena football to pro golf to prep state titles and collegiate sports. And along the way I’ve picked up tricks of the trade by absorbing features, columns and gamers from my favorite writers.
There’s a misconception with sports writers that, to properly report on sports, we must literally be qualified to suit up right now and take the field, pitch, court, course, hardwood. That’s simply wrong — and that’s coming from a guy who ran 30 miles on his 30th birthday.
There’s nothing intrinsically special about me that makes me more or less qualified to report on sports. Only that I love them all. That I love to tell stories.
And, most importantly, that I love the way it unites our community.