Sports journalism will always be special to me. A love of sports led me into journalism at a young age (I was in middle school when I wrote an award-winning column on how Michael Jordan wasn’t a great baseball player for The News & Observer’s “Sportswriter for a Day” contest; that prompted a part-time job as a stringer for a weekly paper). I’m in my third decade of involvement of a profession I’m passionate about. Writing and reporting, editing and design has given way to teaching and studying, research and scholarship. I now teach and research digital media and journalism innovation, but my journalistic roots sprouted from sports writing and reporting.
Given my sports journalism background, I was delighted to hear Bob Rathbun speak on the University of Georgia campus last week. Rathbun, the “Voice of the Atlanta Hawks,” got his start in journalism in a North Carolina town as a young child. Just as I did. Rathbun, who also covers college basketball (including calling games of my beloved Tar Heels) for a regional sports network, offered an inspiring, enthusiastic and encouraging message to members of the UGA chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists (which is currently run by one of my former students). Rathbun encouraged students to seek out opportunities to gain experience and to work their way up the ranks, as he did.
Another encouraging sign is the rise in scholarship dedicated to sports journalism. Universities are starting to launch new programs aimed at studying sports. The University of Maryland just launched the Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism. My college has also launched a new sports journalism initiative, which Conrad Fink tells you about in the video embedded below. As part of the new sports journalism program, we are also hiring a tenure-track sports journalism professor (in addition to the endowed chair position). I am serving on the search committee for that position (I will post a link once the position is formally advertised).
In many ways, my interests in sports journalism and my interests in media management and economics are blending as television contracts and “big money sports” are driving conference expansion plans. Anyone who loves sports and high quality journalism should read this exceptional piece in The Atlantic. With economics and management decisions impacting college athletics, with scandals galore filling the front pages of daily newspapers and banner headlines in cyberspace, academic programs dedicated to sports journalism are more valuable than ever.