Sports is a good beat if you can get it

By Katy Nesbitt/The Observer May 29, 2013 02:02 pm
As much as I love making fun of sports announcers and their hackneyed sayings like “veritable plethora” and “big time big,” covering sports is a lot harder than I imagined.

There was a time once when I wanted to be a sportswriter. At a Georgetown southern-style restaurant where I worked, I met a party from USA Today and got myself an informational interview with one of the sports editors.

His advice to me was to watch a lot of football during the playoffs. Which I did. I have watched an inordinate amount of football over the years, but I don’t understand it enough to call the game like my friends — the armchair referees.

I understand that the ball must advance 10 yards in four attempts or it gets turned over. To score, a player must cross the goal line with the ball. But I don’t get the penalties or the offensive strategies — the “I” formation versus the shotgun? How do these nuances evade me?

I’ve covered a hand full of high school football games and I find it a real juggle to take pictures and notes and not get run over. A colleague once showed me the cleat mark on his calf from covering the previous week’s
game.

Covering track

However, covering track is simple — everyone who completes an event is ranked by distance or speed, from first to last. Getting good photos can be difficult, but the results are straightforward.

This was the first year I covered a track meet without the long underwear layer. It was windy, which can be problematic for all track events, but warmer than usual. I enjoyed myself so much I almost forgot that I was working. 

A couple weeks ago the sports guys asked me to do stories on Marta Stangel, an Enterprise senior who took the state title in the shot put, and the foreign exchange students on the Outlaw track team. 

A couple days before the district meet I interviewed each of the students by the long jump pit. The jumpers took turns jumping and teammates heckled or gave encouragement as they hurled themselves forward into the sand. The sun was out and it was almost warm — perfect late season day at the track.

Saturday morning, I logged onto athletic.net to see the state meet results and saw a lot of familiar names from Wallowa County and Union County schools in the top rankings. Some of these champions graduated just a few hours after receiving their medals.

Others will return to the track next year, older, faster, springier and willing to do their workouts in Eastern Oregon late-winter
conditions. 

Next spring, I’ll bundle up in my ski gear and goggles with my camera and notebook. It’s a pretty good beat if you can get it.