Sports Journalism Blog

Posted on January 8th, 2017 in 2016-17 College Football Playoff National Championship, Student Work by jackcarn

As I took my seat at the Past President’s Dinner of the Football Writers Association of America on the Friday night before the College Football Playoff National Championship, I looked to my right. I recognized the face and the name on the place card. It was national college football writer Jon Solomon. “This is really happening,” I said to myself, wanting nothing more than to introduce myself to one of my favorite writers in college football.

The value of this experience wasn’t just flying from Indianapolis to Tampa (with a layover in Atlanta) and getting a window seat not once, but twice. It wasn’t just the hotel room at Marriott Waterside that features “mood lighting” and has a view of Raymond James Stadium from my bed.

And surprisingly, it wasn’t just the food and snacks that could pack on 15 pounds to my frame during the weekend before kickoff.

The lasting value comes from the chance to sit next to people that had been through the chaos of past title games. It was being able to sit back and listen to my elders in the sports writing profession tell stories about things they have seen along the way.

I got to listen to Solomon and others tell tales that ranged from Brent Musburger flagging down a bus in the middle of the street at 2 a.m. in Seattle after a Final Four game because there was no Uber at the time and no taxis in sight, to Chris Chelios cracking jokes in the Chicago Blackhawks locker room during the early 1990’s. Those are experiences that can’t be taught.

My connection to the Sports Capital Journalism Program at IUPUI has helped me appreciate the opportunities in Tampa. Without the possibilities the program has provided, I wouldn’t have had an opportunity to meet Solomon, Dennis Dodd of, and many others.

Every time I shook the hand of someone new, I thought back to a professor’s lessons in the Sports Writing class that ended a month ago and remembered saying to myself, “I’d love to do what he’s done for a living for so many years.”

And for a cool January weekend in Tampa, I get to do just that.

I got to stand just a few feet away from Nick Saban and Dabo Swinney, two of college football’s most respected coaches. I got to watch former five-star recruit Da’Shawn Hand conduct an interview with a local Alabama reporter at Media Day and couldn’t stop laughing at him just soaking everything in, being a kid and just having fun.

That’s when I realized, “Hey, this is fun. It’s never work if it’s fun.”

By Michael Whitlow | @couldbelikemike