1. Roll up your sleeves
From counting sausages to folding jerseys, there are about a billion less glamorous tasks than actually reporting on path of sports journalism. Although these arduous tasks can be a shot to the ego (lining this bin will enrich my portfolio how?), embrace them. Doing the grunt work gives you access to everyone from the ticket guy to the food vendor, where the good gossip is. It also arms you specialised skills, like the ability to get tobacco juice out of just about anything.
2. Do not shit where you eat
You’re going to be surrounded by a lot of men most of the time; young good-looking hard-bodied athletes, if that’s your type. You might choose to date someone you’ve met through work which is fine (and inevitable, according to some), just watch out for the creeps along the way. Once, I attempted to organize an interview with a minor leaguer over Skype. “Sure,” he said “are clothes optional?”. Sans-pantso did not get interviewed.
3. Learn how to be prepared
Some days you’re going to be running around for hours getting sweaty, changing outfits, shifting locations, and all of that fun stuff. Rather than lugging an arsenal of girl things, become a Stadium MacGyver! Hand dryer = hair fluffer, Wet Ones = shower, butter = lip gloss. But always have tampons. Cameraman Barry will not be packing tampons.
4. Chill out on the stadium food
Those gorgeous hotdogs with the sugary buns, boxes brimming with nachos, and don’t get me started on euphoria of rink hot chocolate! Sporting venues aren’t exactly nutritional hubs and when you’re pounding through a big day, a vacuumed-sealed tuna sushi roll won’t be the answer. It’s super easy to gulp down the free Gatorade, even though just watching the game doesn’t give you that caloric free-pass (who knew), so keep an apple in your purse, or something like that.
5. Don’t be intimidated
There’s always going to be someone smarter, blonder or have an insight to the game that extends beyond your scope; don’t shrink away – ask them if you can pick their brain. Also, you’ll often be asked questions that you simply cannot answer (who took out the volleyball final in Guam?) because, you know, you’re across every sport in every country at all times. Rather than take a bathroom break/Sneaky Siri Session, politely answer that if they find out, you’d be interested to know.
6. Accept the clichés
It’s hard to pinpoint where who is the worst abuser of the cliché: writers or athletes. There’s no way to avoid them in sports reporting, illustrated in Bull Durham “Course it’s boring,” says Crash when teaching LaLoosh the art of the cliché, “that’s the point”. While as a reporter the same line/different season routine can be a little disheartening, it’s just the nature of the beast.
7. Be succinct
In a fast-paced environment, fewer words are needed. The number of one-worded responses of “Sweet.” or “Done.” I’ve received to my lengthy well-constructed emails is astounding. While few people will take the time to hammer out their life story (complete with pictures!), most won’t. Don’t take written brevity personally; you’re a writer, they’re an athlete. Sorted.
8. Keep your emotions
When Erin Andrews, a lifelong Red Sox fan, interviewed the Tiger’s pitcher who’d just shutout her beloved team, she wasn’t too pleased. Keeping it professional, Andrews congratulated the opposition and asked him how the win felt. Her face, on the other hand said THIS BLOWS. It’s that kind of passion for a game that gets you in to this field and like Andrews, it is important to keep that emotion.
9. Respect the boys club
Sometimes dudes just need their privacy to sit in packs and scratch their balls, and do whatever they do without us around. Even though locker rooms generally smell like feet and guys stand around with their bits out, these bro-zones are sacred domains, and for the most part – respectfully, lady-free. Similarly, a male reporter doesn’t have the right to stampede in to a women’s dressing room.
10. Enjoy your press pass
Hook up your buddies when you score free tickets. Keep those tacky commemorative cups. Pass on that letter from your nephew to his favorite forward. These perks are why your nearest and dearest supported you along the way – and the reason why you jumped in that mascot suit that one time.