Friday, May 30, 2014

A Blogger In the Press Box: Watching Sports In a Different Way

I've been blogging for nine years; writing about sports from a fan perspective.  Sometimes watching the game on television, sometimes from the stands as a paying customer.  This past weekend, I watched the Big Ten Baseball Tournament from a new perspective.

As credentialed media, in the press box.

Yep, the Big Ten gave me credentials to cover the baseball tournament. It's not like I don't have a legitimate claim to a pass. My work has been published in preview magazines; I'm even a member of the Football Writers Association of America.  But I've always done my writing from my fan perspective: buying tickets, sitting in the stands.  Or watching on TV.  This was different.

It has some major advantages:  reserved parking, catered food, and a dry, climate-controlled seat. (That came in rather handy during Sunday's game.  It also confirmed just how lame the tired "Ameritragedy" gag really is.  Storm delays are just so... inconvenient.)

But it's also different. I almost broke the golden rule of "no cheering in the press box" in the top of the first of the Sunday game. The press box windows at TD Ameritrade Park don't open, so the crowd noise is muted. And the assembled media definitely don't cheer.  It wasn't exactly quiet, though.  The World-Herald's contingent of reporters kept up a steady conversation all day long.  It was almost like being at a sports bar, except for no alcohol, and the conversation generally had absolutely nothing to do with the game in front of them.  Go figure.

I found the way to keep myself from cheering was to focus on Tweeting and providing game updates at CornNation. It's a good think that it wasn't a football game, as I'd have a much more difficult time keeping my enthusiasm in check.

Afterwards, the pass got me into the post-game press conference. I didn't have the nerve to ask any questions; I figure that Darin Erstad was too intense to take a stupid question from me. And I didn't want to take away any opportunities from the professionals in the room.  After the Saturday game, there was an unexpected bonus: a question and answer session with Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany.

Yeah, this got very much real.  I almost got up the nerve to ask Delany whether he had ever consider pursuing a baseball challenge series with the SEC, much like basketball's challenges with the Big East and ACC.  I didn't get a chance before Delany ended the conference, though.

Would I do this again? I think it would depend on large part whether the opportunity ever presents itself again. I don't expect to ever get credentials for a Husker football game, though it would be an interesting opportunity. I suspect that I'd be more interested in having access to the postgame press conference than watching the game from the press box. I'm far too animated watching Nebraska football, and I make no attempt to hide my rooting interest in wanting to see Nebraska win.

That probably disqualifies me from ever getting that pass for football. In my defense, I don't believe that disqualifies me from being able to ask critical questions. It doesn't do any good for me to sugar coat what I write: if anything, it probably makes me more critical.  (Just read some of what I wrote back in 2007, if you don't believe that.)

If anything, that might disqualify me more than my cheering.

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