From the Cheap Seats: Why I Belong There - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

From the Cheap Seats: Why I Belong There

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Last Saturday's Gold-Blue game took me back about a decade. I'll explain why in a minute, but first, let me tell you about Saturday. Our company paid to air the spring game on our TV stations and added an hour of interviews with Big 12 officials and representatives from Big 12 affiliated bowl games, to the broadcast. The crew from MSN handled the technical aspects of the game broadcast, but WVi was responsible for the third hour with the Big 12 folks. The producer who normally takes care of the Dana Holgorsen Show was seemingly moments away from giving birth. I thought Mountaineer Field would be a fine place to bring a child into the world, but apparently she and her husband have some kind of preference for hospitals. I have lots of experience producing news broadcasts, so I was pressed into service. With Scott Grayson and Geoff Coyle serving as the TV hosts for the game broadcast, bodies were also needed to shoot video of the game and help with postgame interviews. I got nominated to help with those duties as well. Doing these things was definitely cool. I got to work in the fancy TV production truck, hang out on the sidelines with a camera, and be there as all the big-name reporters interviewed Coach Holgorsen, the assistants and a number of the players. It gave me a chance to see the players and coaches as human beings, not just guys on TV, or in helmets and pads.

So why were old memories flying back into my mind? Ten years ago, I was a senior at WVU, finishing up my journalism degree. I thought I wanted to be a TV sportscaster like Grayson or Coyle. I took classes on how to shoot and edit video, conduct interviews and write for TV. Through the school's news broadcast, WVU News, I was even able to cover the Mountaineer football and basketball teams, for a season, just like the mainstream media. Getting to do the same kinds of things I did Saturday, was even cooler as a student.

So why the decade-long lapse, you ask? I was pretty good with the video stuff and I knew a lot about sports, but one thing I was not any good at was being on TV. If you have problems sleeping, watching a few minutes of my college sportscasts will cure your insomnia. An on-air personality is one of those things you either have or you don't. I certainly didn't and still don't.

Despite that deficiency, I still had other opportunities for behind-the-scenes sports-related jobs. In my short time covering the Mountaineers, I not only learned that I had no business being on TV, but I also realized that I was missing things I enjoyed as a fan. While friends were tailgating before games, I was checking to make sure my camera batteries were charged and setting up my tripod to get a good spot for postgame interviews. When family came into town for games, I might see them briefly at halftime and then not for hours after the game.

You'd think that if you loved sports and the Mountaineers, covering them for a living would be a dream job. There's no question that a job like that has its perks, like all-expenses-paid trips to the games, but then there's that old saying about mixing business and pleasure. When you're covering it, there's little time to enjoy a game, or even a moment in a game. If you're doing your job as a journalist properly, you don't get to cheer for the team or wear your Pat White jersey to work. You're not just there for the fun stuff. You also have to cover all the losses and ask coaches why their players get arrested. If we're getting blown out, as a fan you can turn off the TV and begin the process of purging the loss from your mind; but the media has to stick it out until the bitter end and then go talk to the players about it.

Right after graduation, I got a behind-the-scenes job in regular news and I've been there ever since. Through that job, I've still been able to be involved with sports coverage from afar, but I've been able to return to my fan status. Years of watching co-workers cover sports has hardened my resolve. I've watched life-long fans turned reporters, secretly rooting for the ‘Eers to lose, so they could get a day off of work. What was once their hobby and maybe even passion, became a job, just like an accountant or garbage man. I wouldn't trade any of the experiences WVU and WVi have afforded me, but I'm happy to go back to the "Cheap Seats."

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