Mad Thoughts

Mad Thoughts: Sports Journalism Has Been the Ride I Thought it Would be

Four years have come and gone, but the mem[es]ories will last forever.

I bid thee my farewell.

While I’m sure some people — especially in the athletic department — are excited to see me go, I, for one, am conflicted. I’m sad to leave this paper which I now consider my family and has taught me so much about who I am as a person.

But on the other hand, I’m also excited for the next step in my reporting journey. It’s been one hell of a ride the last four years, folks.

I walked onto campus with a bow and pom poms after making Loyola’s cheerleading squad. I had no idea that while at Loyola I would break a national story with my co-editor at the time, Nader Issa, about allegations of player mistreatment from former Loyola’s women’s basketball head
coach Sheryl Swoopes.

Nor did I think I would cover the backlash on the university after The Phoenix reported
that former men’s golfer Ben Holm was sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to aggravated assault and statutory rape charges.

Covering Loyola sports has been a thrill because the athletic programs are
in such a unique building time right now, with the impressive recruiting
class the men’s and women’s basketball teams are welcoming in this fall, and the
overall improvement of the department over the past four years.

During my time here, I covered two NCAA men’s volleyball championship games and banner nights and the Loyola men’s basketball team winning the 2014 College Basketball Invitational
championship title — the program’s first postseason trip since 1985. I also had the opportunity to cover the men’s soccer team’s first NCAA tournament appearance since 2011.

I would like to express my gratitude to all those who have read my pieces during my time with The Phoenix and to those who engaged with me via social media or reached out to me through email. If I got some kind of reaction or created some sort of dialogue from a
piece I wrote, then I did my job.

So here’s my last token for you to ponder on. No, I won’t critique head
coach Porter Moser’s coaching style or beg the question as to whether the women’s volleyball team will fin success in conference play after a dominating start to the season.

When I wrote my first Mad Thoughts column — don’t act like you don’t remember that piece of excellence — I added an emphasis on the importance of gender equality in sports.

Gender plays a unique role in sports. Whether we like it or not, male sports get more TV time, support, publicity and money. Female sports seem to remain on the backburner of society and its athletes tend to be sexualized or receive critiques for their physiques.

To the reporters: cover the athlete and give fair and equal opportunities to both genders.

To the readers: take time to give women sports a chance. You can’t tell me Mississippi State University’s upset this year over the dynasty that is University of Connecticut women’s basketball did not have you on the edge of your seat. Or that you weren’t amazed by Team USA’s gravity-defying tumbling at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Or five-time Olympic gold medal Katie
Ledecky’s 800 freestyle race that blew all the contestants out of the water and smashed the current world record.

As for life advice to all my fellow eager student journalists out there, remember: seek the truth and pursue it. Persevere and don’t let anyone tell you that you aren’t capable of something because you don’t have a piece of paper saying that you studied something for four years (although I did drop a few tens of thousands of dollars on this degree, so it better be worth it).

You are more than capable. Go forth and set the world on fire — I obviously had to include a Jesu-LIT quote up in here.

And for my sports reporters: Keep the coaches and directors accountable and honest. And go after it. It’s an important role that you tell the story as is and don’t sugarcoat a team’s performance.

Well, I guess that’s all the rambling I’ll do. As the saying goes, “All good things
must come to an end eventually, but the
next experience awaits.

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