For four years, I’ve been covering the Cleveland Cavaliers and the NBA, but this season was the first one that I truly discovered how demanding this industry really is.
There’s little downtime. You only have a few opportunities in a day to look away from a digital screen. Depending on the schedule, meals can be skipped and sleep can be considered a premium.
Mind you, I’ve only covered home games in person. I don’t travel. I work road games for another company, but that’s not the same life as being on the beat.
This is in no way complaining. I love this. I get to sit down and watch basketball, for goodness sakes. I have the opportunities to talk to players and coaches about the game we both share a passion for. I chose this path for a reason. It’s because I love it.
That said, it’s no different than any other job when it comes to the energy, preparation, dedication and, to a degree, stress. It’s a grind, no doubt.
I’m writing this because I’d like those who enter sports media’s social space to have an understanding of our world. In particular, there’s a common refrain that we hear often I’d like to address:
“Reporters ask the questions they already know the answer to.”
As an example, let’s use a question I asked about Myles Turner after Game 1 of the Cavs-Pacers playoff series that began Sunday. It’s his second straight year in the playoffs with the same first-round matchup. From the jump, the talented young big man looked much more comfortable. He thoroughly outplayed All-Star Kevin Love, so I posed a question to Nate McMillan about if he thought Turner looked more comfortable out there than last postseason.
The consensus answer from everyone would probably be something in the form of: Well duh. But here’s the thing—our job in the media is to draw conclusions from what we see, and then garner the perspective of players and coaches on those matters. In the majority of cases, you don’t get a simple “yes” or “no” response. Most of the time, especially after wins, you receive an in-depth breakdown or an articulated quote in return.
McMillan clearly understood what my point was about and gave a lengthy reply about his growth, as well as the Pacers’ maturation throughout the year. In this case, it was less curiosity regarding whether or not he agreed with me. Rather, I been putting together a story, and that quote would’ve allowed me to ask Turner or Victor Oladipo about how their coach thinks they’ve grown.
It’s basic stuff, yes, but I’d just like to let everybody know that’s what our responsibility is. We ask the obvious to allow the inside perspective to manifest itself on the outside, a.k.a. the general public. That’s only one example, but personally, I think hearing coaches tout their players’ dedication and hard work is much cooler to read than a one-word or one-sentence answer.
That’s what good reporters try to do. There are definitely a handful of talking heads out there trying to push baseless narratives without facts, but those people aren’t the ones around the team for the entirety of a season.
I’ve made mistakes in the past, some worse, some better than others, but I’ve learned from them and continue to soak up knowledge today.
Being an honest member of the media is what I’m striving to be. Analysis and opinion is part of the gig, but putting out correct information with context takes priority over everything else.
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