The first Sunday I was at home in Cincinnati, I thought about what I would be doing if I was still in Oxford.
I’d probably be sitting at the kitchen table in my apartment, blasting Ariana Grande music through my earbuds and writing a Miami baseball takeaways article with my apartment-mate watching “Game of Thrones” across from me. Saturday was always my “homework” day, and Sunday was “baseball takeaways” day.
I miss it.
My dad and I were supposed to go to a Cincinnati Reds game on March 29.
That didn’t happen.
Instead, my family and I were on the couch, listening to news reports of another surge of coronavirus deaths.
My heart obviously goes out to the athletes, collegiate and professional, whose seasons were cut short or are delayed due to the novel coronavirus.
But I’m also thinking about the writers who cover the sports that aren’t happening right now because I can sympathize with them on a personal level.
I remember calling dibs on being a beat writer for Miami baseball way back in October. It’s my favorite sport, and I wanted to claim it before anyone else did.
When spring semester rolled around, I was balancing 20 credit hours of classes and homework and writing a weekly article on Miami’s baseball team. It was a lot to take on, but I loved it.
When I was notified that all collegiate sports were canceled for the rest of the spring season, I was devastated. And not long after that, my apartment-mate and I were on the verge of crying over the NCAA tournament being canceled.
Coming off of interviewing baseball players and the head coach for the first time, I was just getting into the routine of being a beat writer. It was heartbreaking when all of that was abruptly taken away.
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The virus also affects professional sports writers.
C. Trent Rosecrans is a writer for “The Athletic: Cincinnati,” and his favorite sport to cover is baseball. He said there is a rhythm to the job of covering sports.
“I would be walking into the clubhouse right now,” Rosecrans said at 3 p.m. last Monday. “I’m not doing that, and it’s super weird.”
Rosecrans believes this quarantine period is a good time to practice writing, interviewing, researching and finding unique material to talk about.
“It’s like getting exercise.” he said. “You gotta do it to get strong at it. This is certainly forcing us to do that and to work on that strength.”
He stressed how important it is for aspiring journalists to read and write as much as they can while on lockdown.
“Read, read, read, write, write, write,” he said. “That’s all you can do, and you have some time to do it.”
My heart goes out to all of the sports writers who either don’t have jobs or are working hard to produce outside-the-box content, and all of the aspiring sports writers, like me, who need the games to practice their craft.
But even though I may not be in a press box or at my apartment kitchen table, I still have the itch to write.
This is a good thing.
Rosecrans mentioned that even though there are no sports games to cover, there are still a ton of story ideas roaming around his head.
He has a board full of story ideas ranging from features and look-backs to stories he’s put on the backburner for a while.
“Everyone is stuck at home, so people have time to talk and reminisce on stories,” Rosecrans said.
Although the focus of journalism is on coronavirus coverage, as that seems to be the only thing on TV, it’s important to think outside-the-box and create some new and idiosyncratic material. It’s also important to create content that is enjoyable and positive during these crazy times.
Everyday, you hear about how awful the virus is. This is important information to be aware of, but it’s not healthy for us to consume all day long. (Mother, I hope you’re paying attention…).
Rosecrans said his main goal has always been to satisfy himself when he writes. He tries to make his material interesting to him.
“Really, at the end of the day, I’m writing for an audience of one,” he said. “If I don’t find it interesting, how can I expect anybody else to find it interesting? My No. 1 thing is that I have to amuse and interest myself. And if I can’t do that, then there’s no reason for anybody else to read it.”
So, as I’m stuck at home during quarantine day No. “I don’t even know anymore,” I don’t feel as hopeless as I did before.
I still wish I was in Oxford with my friends and actually going out to do stuff, but I can use this free time to add to my list of story ideas or even just create something for myself.
“You have months of making shit up,” Rosecrans said.
Dive deep into that story ideas list you keep, reach out to those sources you wanted to talk to and write. You and I have the time.
After all, William Shakespeare wrote “King Lear” during quarantine for the Black Death.
So, for the remainder of this quarantine period, you can find me creating and doing new things. I encourage you to do the same thing.