Clinton, South Carolina, Monday, November 10, 2014, 7:05 p.m.
Had I been, oh, I don’t know, writing about the Alabama-LSU game on Saturday night, I would have had: (a.) a great story to tell; (b.) a vast readership; and (c.) the prestige that goes with being there.
On the flip side, I would also have had: (a.) less access; (b.) difficulty finding something original to write; and (c.) deadline pressure even greater than what I experience writing about the Broome-Emerald high school game.
I wouldn’t have been filing at McDonald’s, which has become an invaluable ally due to the presence of reliable wi-fi and doors that remain open late enough to take advantage of these conditions.
I bought a cup of coffee because it seemed only fair that I should buy something, even though I wasn’t hungry. The kid in the next line wore long johns, long white basketball shorts over them, a white sweatshirt and a tee shirt over it. I asked him if he had been to the game. He said he played in it, and he told me he was Number Three.
Number Three was J.P. Parker, who had scored on a sixty-nine-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Isaiah Brown in Emerald’s 28-14 victory. I told him nice catch. I might have interviewed him, but I was covering the game for the Spartanburg paper, and the focus of my coverage was Broome, which is located just outside Spartanburg, though the game was played in Greenwood.
Parker, a junior, asked about some other scores once he found out I was a sportswriter. He mistakenly thought Clinton had knocked off undefeated Greer. It was my sad duty – sad because I live in Clinton – to inform him that the Yellow Jackets had edged the Red Devils, 17-13.
My point is that, if you want exposure and upward mobility, the place to be over the weekend would have been Baton Rouge. As journalism is now an avocation, I’d rather have the intimacy of writing about high schools and small colleges, or, for that matter, local short tracks. This is just about getting back to my roots, making a little spending money, and going to places where folks are generally glad to see me.
I loved the Alabama-LSU game … on TV. The same was true of the Phoenix NASCAR race, and it’s going to be true about the Carolina Panthers game in Philadelphia that’s on TV tonight. For the last two years I covered NASCAR, I also wrote occasional columns at NFL games. I enjoyed it. It was a change of pace. I don’t need that change of pace anymore. It doesn’t do me any good.
I’d rather write about the kid wearing the longjohns at McDonald’s. Or even see him.
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