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March of the Dorks
by Mad Dad
I wasted four years of time, effort and money during college studying journalism.
I’ve made some crap decisions in my life. What Zardoz was to Sean Connery’s career, J-school was to my life. Compounded by several other mismanaged routes in life, I wound up essentially abandoning the career about two years in, instead opting for capitalism’s “journalism” (see: public relations).
I’ve left the bad paychecks, bad hours and unappreciative and ignorant readers; however, much like a horcrux encasing a part of Our Dark Lord’s soul, there’s still a piece of me in reporting.
Every Friday night during the fall, I cover a high school football game for Dallas’ largest daily newspaper. I get paid per game, I escape the wife and kid for a night, I typically get fed (catered if you’re lucky, but Sonic will do) and I watch some of the foremost amateur athletes in the nation.
There’s been a sea change in newspaper reporting the last several years: Readership has waned and technology is now king. To address the former, newspapers are better utilizing the latter to get scores and stats to you – the consumer! – as quickly and accurately as possible.
The last two years, the freelancers have been summoned to the mothership for training. Remember, up until several years ago, “covering” a football game required binoculars, several No. 2 pencils, a pad of paper and a sharp wit. These days, it requires enough sense to know that Excel is not a verb, but a spreadsheet program. Things are streamlined. It’s 2011. We’re putting men on the moon.
However, the Information Age is leaving behind two groups of Americans: Old people and sports writers. The latter have zero interest in technology, and they use all possible energy proving how modern means of data delivery can be duped and unreliable.
These annual meeting of the minds is a sight to behold. If you ever get a chance to see high school sports writers congregated in a secure locale, I highly suggest you jump at the chance. Imagine the constituency of a CiCi’s buffet line, with a Rush concert and with dregs populating the downtown bus station after midnight.
It’s an effin’ leper colony.
Note: I realize I’m a part of this cluster … and I have no defense nor am I particularly proud. However, I can almost guarantee I do not fit into any one of these catch-all molds for the guys delivering those scores to your local daily on Saturday mornings:
The Fatty McGees
Per capita, morbid obesity affects high school sports writers at a much higher rate than the rest of society. I think it’s the idea of “those who can’t, write about it.” Meaning, whilst these folks report on these nubile, agile and honed young, muscular athletes ply their craft, the most movement 88 percent of all sports writers results in a bear claw or cramp (or both).
Case in point: During my latest training session for a new program, I sat in front of a man who assaulted everyone in a large conference room with a symphony of heaves, groans, belches, gasps, huffs, chuffs, puffs, draws, pants, billows and audible respiratory surges. I turned to catch a glimpse of this monster to learn that he probably tipped the scales at 450 pounds and was probably around the age of 30. Maybe he has a glandular disorder. Yeah. That’s it.
The Bald Noggins
Ninety percent of high school sports writers are bald. It’s like a rite of passage. Like becoming a Tibetan monk. The one exception is the 40-year-old guy that has hair down to the nape of his neck, curled around his ear looking like the lead guitar player for the Gin Blossoms. Two-hundred percent chance this guy thinks all of Pearl Jam’s albums are great. He also thinks he’s the coolest MFer in the room.
During the latest training a new full-time employee of the local daily introduced himself. He was from ESPN and had moved to Dallas from Connecticut.
He was doomed.
Texans are a prideful bunch – certainly a commendable trait. However, the characteristic can also be perceived as being a turdburger. Once the new guy admitted he was a “Yankee” he’d sunk his own battleship. Already, these freelancers were licking their chops, ready to pounce. Once he admitted that he didn’t think punts in football stats were important, he was a bad joke at a dad convention. Everyone was jumping on.
Of course everyone loves punt stats. Hang time and gross yardage made the game of football. This guy was clearly ignorant. (For those that don’t know, punting is stupid.)
The A-hole also is skeptical of technology. He takes your new program and designs highly unlikely situations in which the computer can’t configure a statistic.
“What if the fourth trombone player in the marching band kicks the ball to the fourth moon of Jupiter? What then?”
“What if Cicero reincarnates as Gallagher and uses waffles to tackle the Holy Spirit out of bounds?”
These three groups make up 99 percent of every 100 high school sports writers. What came next, though, threw everyone for a loop.
A girl. A young girl, who was pretty (think Joey Lauren Adams from “Chasing Amy,” but less of a slut or more of a slut), skinny and wearing a sharp black dress skirt and blouse and automatically turned her into the most beautiful being in all five floors of the building.
Our minds boggled. Our eyes ogled, although I think we all secretly felt she was either in the wrong room, a narcotics officer or a sadist, knowing that all 70 men in that room were going to masturbate imagining discussing the intricacies of the hook-and-ladder play with her while we kept our T-shirts on and donned socks with sandals.
She, apparently, is into high school football enough to want to score some extra cash. She probably digs the Three Stooges and Jimi Hendrix, too.
I went home to my wife and kid assuming that, if a gun was pointed at her head, I would have been in the top seven or eight guys she would have slept with.
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