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A Reflection on Being a Sports Journalist Without Sports

In May of this year, I was given the opportunity to join the Purple and White staff as the sports editor. I was enthusiastic about the position because of my love for sports, and my passion for journalism. Originally, I had the idea that I would be attending Millsaps sporting events and interviewing athletes post game or match. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this would not be the case. 

On July 16th, the Millsaps Community received an email from the athletic director, Aaron Pelch, announcing the cancellation of fall competition. This news was hard-hitting for me as athlete, but also as a brand-new journalist. I did not think there would be much material for me to cover since sports competitions were cancelled at Millsaps However, the Millsaps athletic community is more than sports competition as I’ve come to discover 

Instead of post-game interviews or writing about an overtime game, I ended up interviewing athletes and students regarding their lives, opinions, and ideas. Even former Millsaps’ athlete Joey Shelton came forth with his personal experiences in the Purple and White’s October issue. Looking back at all the students, athletes, and faculty I interviewed or spoke to, I was amazed by the way everyone responded. 

With the pandemic lingering all semester, controversial topics did not escape the sports section. For the Purple and White’s November issue, I decided to interview an athlete about how high-intensity training feels in a mask. I would soon be shocked to find that there were athletes who did not feel comfortable sharing their opinions on this matter. Some felt expressing their personal thoughts could negatively affect their reputation with the administration. Fortunately, senior basketball player, Dia Fortenberry took the interview and provided wonderful insight. 

Throughout the semester students typically loved coming forth with their ideas and opinions; however, it is concerning that some students did not feel comfortable sharing their ideas in fear of upsetting the administration. Whether we are combatting a pandemic or not, administration needs to ensure that student opinions are encouraged without fear of punitive conditions in order to create fair and balanced conversations regarding important topics. 

Overall, I was very impressed with the how eager the Millsaps Community was in aiding me as a journalist. With sports picking back up this spring, my hope is for this to continue. My original hopes of attending sporting events, doing post-game interviews, and covering games should be coming to light this January. I’m excited for the change up this spring! 

Although I am excited for the return of fall sports, I am very thankful for this odd semester. I learned more as a journalist than I ever before would have. This semester helped me recognize that the athletes at Millsaps represent far more than just the sport they play, and I will be keeping this close to heart this spring. Despite the pandemic, the resilience of the athletic community will make the upcoming sports season just as great as any other.