Simply put I’m a fan.
I learned about sports at my father’s knee, which in our family was sitting next to him on the couch as he did his “books” – team records and statistics on the NFL, NBA, Indiana high school basketball, college basketball and football – you name it. The first book I kept and the only one I can remember was on the 1972-73 Miami Dolphins. I cried the year before when they lost Super Bowl VI to Dallas and I knew they were destined to win. Even then I had no idea the impact and legacy of that perfect season – they were just my team – Czonka, Kick, Griese, Warfield, Buonticonti.
But I digress.
A National Sports Journalism Center? Here in Indy? Interviewing Isiah Thomas, Tom Crean, Ron Hunter, touring the home of the Super Bowl Champion Colts, the basketball shrine that is Conseco Fieldhouse? As a high school student? Are you kidding me? If I had had the opportunity 30-plus years ago, I’d have never left.
First I have to thank the IU High School Journalism Institute, director Teresa White and Julie Dodd and Judy Robinson of the University of Florida who taught the Multimedia for High School Journalism Educators June 21-25 in Bloomington. They totally prepared me to be a technology expert, having guided me through setting up a WordPress blog, completing a Soundslides slide show and adding links to my posts. As often happens, the student last week quickly became the teacher this week and thanks to Judy and Julie’s technical and professional advice, I was able to be the “expert” for a short time.
Volunteering to help the first crop of young sports journalists at the institute June 30 and July 1, I really didn’t think I’d love the “tech” stuff so much. But as we viewed footage of the IU’s 1981 NCAA championship game against North Carolina set for the day that then-President Ronald Reagan was shot, talked angles on the Tom Crean story, about how massive the job to follow in such heavy footprints of triumph and disaster, I was hooked. I realized as Lawrence Central High School student Greg Price put in his story, as much as the media changes, it stays the same. We ate pizza, sharing the last pieces with a few skeptical people who happened to cross our paths outside the IT Building on campus, took candid deadline photos, wrote professional-standard stories, edited and redited, added links, made slideshows and delved into this exciting wonderful world of “New Media.” The 18 Indianapolis and Chicago students from different schools, backgrounds, races and ethnicities became their own team for a week.
As Isiah Thomas said in the “Diversity in Sports Media” panel discussion, “Diversity works in sports. You know sports is always the place where society has come to level the playing field.”
How true and how prophetic because I found that this week with the Diversity Sports Media Institute, the journalistic playing field was truly leveled for institute participants and the experience will be life-changing for them all.