I’ve noticed through most of my academic career, regardless of now or back in high school, it all seemed kind of easy. I didn’t really think that I was putting that much effort into most of my work. I’d fluff papers up in order to meet the page requirements. I’d ask people last minute for interviews and slop stuff together. All of this combined, and I somehow currently have over a 3.8 GPA. This semester, however, I think I finally found a class that had a professor that didn’t buy my old techniques. Dan Connolly, professor of COM370, Digital Sports Writing.
When I read that in the comments for some of my first few assignments, I was pretty surprised. I can’t think of a professor, besides maybe one, who left that comment on a paper of mine my entire time at college. I thought I had cracked the code, that I knew exactly what I needed to do to please every professor at Elizabethtown College. But Connolly, he wasn’t having it.
I was actually pretty excited. I finally had something that felt like a real challenge. I love that. When it comes to video games, difficulty is fun for me. That rang true in sports writing, not only because I knew I had the power in me to write a good piece, but Connolly knew it too.
So overall, yes I still make a few mistakes here and there, but I think that after COM370, I’ve been able to find a better angle, a better story, a better question. That’s all thanks to Connolly.
I was able to talk to some people I could only dream of getting to talk to. Gerry, that’s Gerry with a ‘G’, Sandusky from WBAL. Jeff Zrebiec, Baltimore Ravens beat writer for the Baltimore Sun. I’ve looked up to these guys for so long. Ever since I enrolled at Elizabethtown I had hoped to learn the tricks to replicate them. Find a way to be able to become a voice in the NFL world. To actually be able to talk to them? That’s something I didn’t think would happen while at ETown. That’s all thanks to Connolly.
Do I want to be a print journalist? Probably not. I came in to the class wanting to be on television or radio, and coming out of this class I feel pretty much the same. This class did show me techniques that I need though; skills that help be a better story teller. Something that plenty of people, guys like Zrebiec, Sandusky, and Connolly are great at doing. That’s all thanks to Connolly.
So yes, plenty of people complained about how hard the class was. Plenty of people thought that turning in a blog every week was a pain in the butt. However, that challenge made me show up to class every single day. I think that I have become a better writer, a better story teller, and now think that I might have a chance to get where I want to be. That’s all thanks to Connolly.
The reason why I took this class was to better understand the field I wanted to go into my whole life. The Sports Journalism class kind of served as a wakeup call for me. I always wanted to be a sports broadcaster and I was adamant that nothing was going to stop me in my journey to becoming that. Until I took this class, I was able to speak to professionals who told me that it is a tough business to get into. When I thought about it more, I figured out that where I am in my life, I don’t need competition. What I do need is a job to help paying off student debts. Since talking to some people, I have figured I will reconstruct my future to go into Athletic Communications instead of broadcasting because the jobs seem to be there more than broadcasting. It’s a bitter pill to swallow because I have been working to become a broadcaster for eight years and I would do almost anything to become a broadcaster after this winter is over. That is just one of the many things this class has taught me throughout the semester.
I came into the semester knowing it would be a class that I needed to work hard in because of how it was structured. I am someone who never did well in school and I really wanted to leave a lasting impression this semester. But, as the semester went on and I just couldn’t get my act together to fix silly little mistakes, my work ethic dropped significantly. I only have, myself to blame and it sucks that my best work to show for this semester was about an eight or nine. That was just one struggle I had through the class. The second struggle comes with keeping up with work. I feel like the pace of the class was fast and I sometimes am okay with that. But, as the semester went on I started getting worked up with how much work I had in this class on top of my three other courses. It turned into prioritizing which class meant the most to me and since I wasn’t taking this class for a grade my work fell down the ladder and didn’t get as much attention as it really deserved.
There is a lot of things I liked about the class though. For starters, I really enjoyed talking to some of the big names in the sports industry today. Especially Gerry Sandusky. I thought he was the best guest because he had such an interesting story. Not only his story, but his job is what enticed me the most about him. I also enjoyed the blogs when I had the time to think and write what I wanted. I would’ve really enjoyed taking this class when I was a younger student and when I had more time to dedicate to each class. Unfortunately, I was not able to show the best me and I really wish I could have.
I have always been told that I was a pretty good writer. Throughout the several writing-based classes I’ve taken in high school and college, teachers would always say that I knew how to get my thoughts out in an efficient way. While that may have been true, I never enjoyed it. I still don’t. I’m not sure if I’m just lazy or feel that people don’t care what I have to say, but the whole process would just irritate me. With that being said, I didn’t exactly hate this class.
When I signed up for COM 370, I didn’t really know what to expect. I assumed it would be an easy class and that I would be able to breeze through it. I was wrong.
This class turned out to be one of my most demanding classes between the writing and other assignments that were due every week. Early on, I still felt that I could coast my way through most of the semester with my writing skills. I was wrong again.
Our professor, Dan Connolly, is pretty familiar with the field of digital journalism and sports writing. He tried his very best to mold us into successful writers. He would constantly tell us that if you could write well, you could basically do anything. Of course, making us into good writers came at a price. Our work would constantly be torn apart with every dropped word and cliché we included. It was tough at first, but soon for me, it became almost a personal challenge to see if I could write something that was completely up to his standards.
We were then introduced to a legendary sports writer named Gary Smith. We never formally met him, but we read a book that had some of his best pieces in it. It was interesting to read his stories, because that’s exactly what they read like. Stories. You forgot you were reading about sports for a moment as Smith expertly set scenes and forced the readers to feel what the characters felt. It was eye-opening to me. I realized that sports writing was so much more than play-by-plays or game stories. From that point on, I wrote every piece with Smith’s writing in the back of my head.
By raising my own bar so high, I feel that I actually did improve my writing, and with some minor corrections or style changes, I had some of my best work come out of this class.
At the end of the day, I’m glad I ended up taking this class. It was really interesting to see another side of communications that I hadn’t thought of. I never thought I wanted to be a writer at any capacity, but this class made it at the very least not seem as terrible as I previously thought. I am going to take the things that Professor Connolly taught us throughout the semester and continue to work on my skills.
Many people have played some sort of sport in their lifetimes and played under the leadership of a coach. Some people have experienced a good coach that they look up to and consider a role model. Others, however, may have experienced a coach that they couldn’t stand and hope to never see again. Personally, I have experienced many that fall into both of those categories. I have even once had a coach that I loved and he stepped down from coaching and then I was stuck with a coach I hated. Coaching is like any other job regarding fulfilling the job description as well as making money doing it. Coaches may come across a better opportunity later in their careers that would cause them to leave their current team. When a coach leaves, it calls for many various parts of action to take place to replace the old coach.
Chris Morgan knows all about what it takes to replace a coach and all the challenges that come with it. Morgan is the Athletic Director for Division III Elizabethtown College, and has held the position title for about three years now. In that time, Morgan has been responsible for hiring coaches for eight different teams. People will either compliment the new coach or criticize them for their new coaching strategy. But they never realize all the tireless hours and energy that go into selecting a new coach, especially at the college level. Sadly, coaches are not staying at the same organization for the long amounts of time like they once did. “Ten years ago, I would expect coaches to be around for a long time,” Morgan said. “With today’s generation, many seem to be switching jobs more often.” Since coaches aren’t sticking to one team as long anymore, the steps for hiring new coaches are becoming more regular.
So much time and effort go into hiring a new coach. First, the college selects a search committee that will review the candidates and assist in making the final decision. The search committee consists of other coaches and faculty of the college. The ad for a new coach will be posted for about two to three weeks before being taken down. After it is taken down, the search committee and Morgan review the applications and narrow the list of applicants down to about six to 10 people. Then interviews are held via Skype with the applicants and the search committee. The interviews usually last about 25 minutes for each candidate. They are asked about 15, predetermined questions and then have a chance to ask their own questions to Morgan and the search committee at the end. The list of candidates is narrowed again, this time to around three people. Next, the candidates are invited to the campus, where they spend a full day. The visit consists of them meeting with the search committee, vice president of the college, and representatives of the particular team they are applying to coach for. The day then ends with them meeting with Morgan and talking about exactly what is expected of them if they are offered the job. The last step of the process is Morgan and the search committee will send a recommendation request for the final candidate to be hired to the president of the college. Once he or she approves it, a verbal offer is given.
Morgan explained how picking a new coach is something that is never on someone’s agenda. It always seems to happen at the most opportune times and piles up on all the other daily work that needs done. Athletic Directors, specifically, feel pressure when picking new coaches. “I don’t know if I’m supposed to or not but I feel a lot pressure when hiring a new coach,” Morgan said. “I’m building a team. We are all part of a team here as coaches and staff members to serve our students and I want to build the right team. I want to make the right hire because it’s a big decision that takes a lot of time and energy.”
A lot of people love to complain about having a new coach come into a program but in reality those people have it easy compared to the person who have to go through the process of hiring a new coach. “Many people just to conclusions on a coach as soon as they get hired,” Nate Butler, Warrior Run High School Athletic Director, said. “Many times, they bring up issues or complaints to me about the coach before they even give them a chance.” Athletic Director’s go through many stages to attempt to find the most fit applicant for the job. Many factors are taken into play before making the final decision. People need to put trust in their athletic department to make the right decision because they work tirelessly and put in tons of effort in hope that they can find the “perfect” candidate for the job.
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick brought attention to a racial issue, that most small town areas have trouble adjusting to like Elizabethtown.
Kaepernick sat for the national anthem because of the way African Americans are perceived to be wrongfully treated. His motives were not initially intended of gaining national exposure, but Kaepernick knew it was the proper platform to spark a discussion.
“We have to have these real conversations that are uncomfortable for a lot of people,” Kaepernick told reporters after their preseason game in 2015. “If we have these conversations, there’s a better understanding of where both sides are coming from.“
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones issued an ultimatum to his players that if they knelt during the national anthem, then they will be benched. Much like President Trump and the people who are cancelling their sunday football package, Jones strongly believes that kneeling is unpatriotic and is disrespecting the military.
“We believe that our players should stand for the national anthem,” National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell said at an annual owners meeting in October . “We have about six or seven players that are involved with this protest at this point. What we try to do is deal with the underlying issue and understand what it is that they’re protesting and try to address that matter.”
Elizabethtown College is a small private school in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The town hosts about 11,000 residents, where 85 percent of the students at the college are white. 2.9 percent of the students on campus are black.
Elizabethtown has had several racial incidents on their campus in the past. Most recently, an African-American student reported that someone wrote a racial slur on her door whiteboard. The college quickly resolved the issue, and reiterated their zero-tolerance policy against racial and bias related incidents.
“I have to face it every day because me and [Jamil] are the only two African-American teens in our class classes,” Jalil Pines-Elliott, who has a twin brother, Jamil, said on the pressure of being black in the Lancaster community. “But being from Philly, you’re just built with that toughness and we just have to learn to deal with it.”
Jamil and Jalil are junior basketball players at Elizabethtown. They grew up in North Philadelphia where they graduated from Germantown Friends High School. GFHS is also a mostly white school, so transitioning to their college’s atmosphere was not new to them.
“It’s almost a culture shock,” Jamil said. “We went to an all white high school, after coming from a predominantly black middle school, so we were used to seeing people who look like us.”
Both Jamil and Jalil, as well as other students of color, are involved in a program to help promote diversity. Even with their group, Jalil feels comfortable knowing that he has peers around campus that can help him in need.
“Even though this campus is predominantly white, we still have groups of friends that we can go to for support if there is ever any dangerous issues,” Jalil said. “ My experience at Elizabethtown has continued to be pleasant, but I think that there are still some things that should have changed in my three years here.”
Racial incidents are not something new on college campuses. Identity Evropa is a self-identified white supremacist group. They have been designated as a racist hate group by the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center. According to its website, their mission is to, “spread support for white nationalism.”
The group specifically targets college students across the United States, by hanging posters around their school with a slogan, “project seige.” Millersville University, Stockton University and Elizabethtown reported the postings on their campus to local authorities. Elizabethtown’s campus security confirmed the surveillance video, that the people were not associated with the college.
“I think people on this campus should be more aware,” Jamil said. “There’s issues that color people face everyday and not a lot of people are informed of it.”
Situations like Identity Evropa is an example of what the players are trying to fix – by using popular sports platforms. The demonstrations have affected the NFL’s television ratings, to the point that the league are proposing million dollar donations to social causes and organizations, like the United Negro College Fund and Dream Corps. The incentive of course would include players to stand during the anthem.
49ers safety, Eric Reid was one of Kaepernick’s teammates that supported him when the protests began. Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins and former N.F.L. wide receiver Anquan Boldin, are a part of a so-called players coalition group, that was intended to help increase the conversation. Reid was a member of the group, but withdrew because of Jenkins’ change of mind to stand after the proposal was introduced.
“The Players Coalition was supposed to be formed as a group that represents N.F.L. athletes who have been silently protesting social injustices and racism,” Reid said in a Twitter post. “However, Malcolm and Anquan can no longer speak on our behalf as we don’t believe the coalition’s beliefs are in our best interests as a whole.”
Reid reassured fans that he would continue to kneel, and hopes that the league will rescind their offer that he views as a bribe.
“At no point did I say the donations were contingent on me ending my protest,” Reid said. “[Goodell] is trying to buy our silence.”
President Trump has continued to attack the league on Twitter, stating that their lack in forcing the players to stop protesting, is the reason behind their declining ratings.
Nevertheless, the conversations will likely continue across the N.F.L. and other professional sports leagues. The demonstrations by the players are even influencing the younger generation to bring attention to racial inequality. Jamil and a few of his peers from Elizabethtown, participated in the March for Racial Justice protest in Washington D.C. back in September. Thousands of supporters silently marched a mile from Lincoln Park to the United States Capitol.
“It’s just something that this country as a whole has continued to ignore,” Jamil said. “It’s staring at them right in their face.