Writer’s block has been kicking my ass lately. For the last three weeks, give or take, I have stared at blank page after blank page, unable to find words to fill them. This has been more than senioritis: It has made my writing for this esteemed website more difficult, as well as simple emails and letters to friends and family. Essentially, anything I have needed to compose has been a physically anguishing experience.
The tragic loss of Junior Seau is upsetting and, in many ways, revolting, but I have never been a Chargers fan, and I know nothing about the science behind possible brain damage. I am unconnected to the matter.
The NBA and NHL playoffs are still in the early stages of their three-month, monotonous progression. If we dwell on each night, or even fortnight, of that journey, by its conclusion we’ll be cursing all involved.
Baseball remains a sensitive topic as fans still struggle to come to terms with Mariano Rivera’s injury and pray it does not end his career.
I sit here, battling my personal white whale, my personal Moby Dick, this blank page. And I realize, sports journalism may end up being a miserable career.
Think about the scribes who cover a baseball team for a living. Each year, they must find a minimum of 162 different ways to summarize a game which only has two possible conclusions. 162 different leads, 162 different turns of phrase and 162 nights of hot dogs and flat Pepsi. While I’m struggling to finish off term papers, simple columns and my college career, those writers churn out one or two stories a night for more than half the year.
Sure, they get paid to do it, but it is not as if compensation in the journalism industry is raising any eyes in congressional reviews.
If Peter Gibbons loses his mind in Office Space thanks to the monotony of a cubicle, just as Edward Norton does in Fight Club, then wouldn’t this endless stream of balls and strikes lead to a revolt of some sort? Yet, it doesn’t. Those writers come to know the teams they cover as well as they know their own families. They do not care much who wins or loses each game — that would be unprofessional — but they do keep a careful eye out for a storyline, any storyline, each and every night.
An average baseball game takes around three hours to complete, and most writers are at the ballpark two hours before the game, staying at least two hours after the game. That results in approximately 1,134 hours per regular season. If Malcolm Gladwell is correct and it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert in any given field, than these beat writers are experts on their respective teams within four or five years, once you factor in offseason dealings and
possible postseason play.
At that point, I suppose, once having earned the distinction of “expert,” 162 different stories should be more of an expectation than a surprise. Whereas I am meandering my way through a research paper on human cloning, another topic I know nothing of, those scribes are penning recaps on teams they could not know better.
With that weapon in the back pocket, Ahab should kill Moby Dick each time. Perhaps sports journalism may end up being a the ideal career.
Playoffs may stretch out interminably, but if they followed a Hollywood-ready script, at least sports journalists could work movie references into their game stories.
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