By Jon Rice/El Inde
Once a student sports reporter for the Arizona Daily Wildcat and UATV-3, my daily routine now has changed radically.
Whereas I used to spend my weeks going to class in person, attending meetings for the sports department of UATV, and followed by more meetings with the sports desk at the Daily Wildcat, I now find myself taking two online journalism classes and staying at home.
No sports coverage is being planned, for all of the University of Arizona sports teams I used to cover have cancelled the remainder of their seasons. I have been told to stay away from the University of Arizona campus for the rest of the semester and from Arizona Student Media’s office indefinitely, until further notice.
I have also stayed inside on the weekends, when I would usually be outdoors to cover Arizona Softball for UATV on a Friday night, or Arizona Lacrosse for the Daily Wildcat on Saturday afternoons, and then softball again Saturday and Sunday nights.
My weekend plans would be full of sports to cover and the joy that came with it. For not only was I covering two teams that I had long enjoyed as a fan, I was also training to cover sports as a both a broadcast and print sports journalist. I was acquiring the skills necessary to type up recap articles after watching the lacrosse action live at William David Sitton Field or at home, via a live YouTube link to away games. I would also spend part of my weekends filming the UA Women’s Softball team, so that I could go back to Arizona Student Media’s office to edit a package of all of the key moments that I observed during the game on Saturday and Sunday nights.
Ever since I dove into internship work for all three branches of Arizona Student Media (radio, newspaper, TV), my dream has been to become a sports anchor and reporter for a local television station. After that, I would work my way up to a major college conference-affiliated station (like ACC Network) or become an on-TV baseball reporter for a Major League Baseball team (the Colorado Rockies would be my first choice, as they are my home state team).
But now that I can’t gain the training or experience in sports reporting (what us sports journalists refer to as “getting reps”), I am stuck in a sort of limbo.
Not only has my ability to cover sports been impacted, but I am also unable to watch any of my favorite sports teams from home. The March Madness basketball tournament was canceled in its entirety this year, for the first time in my lifetime.
My favorite sport is baseball. This started when I was eight years old and my brought me to the very first baseball game that I can remember, at the newly-opened Coors Field in Denver, Colorado. While I don’t recall who was playing that day, I do recall the sights as I walked from the parking lot to the inside of the stadium.
My dad was able to get club-level season ticket seats through the law firm bearing his name, so we entered the stadium by where kids would receive a free giveaway — anything from free hats to collectible baseball cards. After we got our freebie, we would make it up the stairs to the level where all of the lower-level concessions stands were.
But what enticed my little brother Joseph (Joe) and I more than the thought of food, were the various baseball-related attractions that they had lined up as you walked in. Joe’s personal favorite was the speed pitch, where kids from all ages would step up and try to throw a pitch as fast as they possibly could; if they hit a certain miles-per-hour range for their age group, they would win a prize.
Over the years, Joe would not only win a prize every single time, but he would also go down as that guy that could out pitch almost every other kid in his age group. His secret: He played little league baseball for over two years, working his way up to being on Niwot, Colorado’s city-wide majors-level little league team.
For me, the attractions lay elsewhere, for as soon as I sat down in my family’s season ticket seats and caught a glimpse of the entire baseball field at Coors Field, I was hooked. I had never seen a more beautiful scene than freshly-watered dirt carved into a perfectly-rounded diamond shape, with professional baseball players running around the field and throwing a baseball back and forth to one another, while the grounds crew made sure every square inch of the field looked “game day ready.”
Then the first pitch took place and I couldn’t look away: I was fascinated by the fine dance that I witnessed, as one giant of a man tried to hit a baseball soaring at incredible speeds through the air, after another had thrown that baseball towards him. Meanwhile, players in the outfield were quickly moving from side to side, in a crazed attempt to catch that baseball.
Throughout the game, my dad would try to talk to me and pull me away from my daze, but he quickly picked up on what was demanding my focus. It was the enjoyment of a sport where anything could happen. So when people ask me why I love baseball more than any other sport, I like to describe that magical sense of endless possibilities. For me, there is nothing else like it.