What An Opportunity

Archive for June, 2013|Monthly archive page

Six reasons you should take sports journalism at the University at Buffalo this fall

In Sports on June 30, 2013 at 7:28 pm


I knew what I was going to say immediately, and I was ready to defend my answer.

I was at lunch with UB’s journalism program director and The Spectrum’s adviser, Jody Kleinberg Biehl, when she asked a question I didn’t expect to hear: “What’s one journalism class the school should offer this fall?”

I almost jumped out of my seat, but I took a moment to collect myself and sip a mimosa (tuck my napkin in my shirt ’cause I’m just mobbin’ like that). “Sports journalism,” I responded, trying to mask the thrill in my voice. Now, to my knowledge, UB has never offered a sports journalism class; it’s a big enough struggle to get the institution to offer journalism classes at all.

Much to my surprise, Jody was on board with the suggestion. “OK,” she said. “Do you really think that would fill up? I need a class that would fill up. Who should teach it?” A few names came to mind, but the first one that came out was Keith McShea. And yes, I really think it will fill up. But just in case it needs added support, here are six reasons I believe you should take McShea’s sportswriting class this fall.


1. Keith McShea (@KeithMcSheaBN) is a tremendous writer and teacher

I’m not just saying this because I work with Keith (pictured above) at The Buffalo News, but that is part of the reason I am confident in saying it — I know how committed he is to his work. If you live in Western New York, you probably know Keith as the #preptalklegend of high school sports. Think “Adam Schefter of Greater Buffalo high school athletics.” Basically, the dude has his finger on the pulse of area high school sports as well as any beat writer I know covering any topic, and he can write really well, too. Here’s his Prep Talk blog. He’s also a UB and Spectrum alum and just a nice guy with a gracious, humble attitude. You won’t regret taking a class with a man like Keith McShea. Take my word for it.

2. The date and time are convenient and simple

The class will take place Mondays from 7-9:40 p.m. One night a week! That’s 2:40 of talking about sports, writing, and journalism. Even the thought makes me excited. What kind of sports fan or aspiring journalist doesn’t want to do that?

3. Learning about journalism will improve your writing ability

You need to be a strong writer in just about every workplace today, whether you’re composing press releases, crafting emails, or simply arranging 140-character tweets. You’re going to need to write in this class, and every journalism class I’ve taken at UB has made me a better writer. This one will be no exception. (Here’s a link to the Journalism Certificate Program recruitment video, created by one of my favorite professors, in which you can see my baby-face mug at :55).


Seriously. You’ll be learning about sports. What could be better?

5. We have an opportunity to send a message to the school

Again, this class has never existed at UB before, as far as I know, and if it doesn’t get strong registration, it might never exist again. That’s the reason I expected I’d need to put up a fight to get it created. Thankfully, Jody was aware of the vast importance of a class of this nature. Sports are important. Journalism is important. Sports journalism is important! I know the English Department, however, has doubts that the class can fill up. Let’s show UB we do care about sports and journalism. If the course fills up, administration will be practically forced to keep bringing the class back — which is a nice way we can ‘pay it forward’ for the next generation of sports enthusiasts. Buckets.

6. If you want to be a journalist, you need to know about sports

“But I want to write about news! Or write features! Or music reviews!” Too bad. Today, journalists have to be able to do it all. That means a young writer entering the workforce can’t just have one niche and demand, “I’m not writing about anything else.” I mean, you can do that, but you probably won’t get a job. Want to be a writer? Learn about sports. They’re a vital component of journalism as a whole. Oh, and want to work in sports? You’re going to need to learn how to write.

On the real, though … I’m rearranging my schedule completely and changing up my graduation plans to take this class. It’s going to be that good. I hope I’ll see you Day One!



In Sports on June 5, 2013 at 3:17 am

“Everyone talks about 755. No one really mentions 762.”

I was watching the Yankees-Indians game on Monday night. ESPN had the game and the Yankees played well. 7-4 win for the Bombers spurred on by Mark Texeira who sent a “tex message” (get it?) to the upper deck for a grand salami. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the Yankees play well and get the win. Yet, it’s the words of the ESPN anchors that stuck in my head after the final out.

The conversation between the anchoring team inevitably touched on how well the Yankees have played with so many players on the disabled list. Eventually that conversation got to Alex Rodriguez, one of the multiple players on the D.L., and how his acknowledgement of using performance-enhancing drugs will probably eliminate his Hall-of-Fame potential. The anchors touched on how poorly Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Roger Clemens, and Barry Bonds performed on their Hall-of-Fame ballots and how this fared for the tainted history of baseball. “Everyone talks about 755. No one really mentions 762.”

There’s so much of me that wants to get into an argument weighing the pros and cons of these players’ careers. How everyone was using PEDs and how it was, more or less, a level playing field. How we can’t place morals on athletes. I mean, it’s not like the substances were banned. They were banned in writing but not enforced. I mean, if you steal something and nobody knows, did you steal? For me though, this is a loss of faith.

Faith is funny because we mostly think of religion. Rightly so but still…we think of religion. But deep down, I think most of us have someone we looked up to. Someone we put our faith in. We spend so much of life trying to figure ourselves out. Then someone comes along who kind of embodies what we want to be and we believe in her/him. Even if it’s not a direct comparison, we admire hard work, dedication, focus, etc. We want that. We see the best in others and that drives us to be the best of ourselves.

But what happens when the people we believe in repeatedly let us down? This is not a figment of humanity. This is not “I’m sorry and I will do all I can to your role model”. This is purposeful, calculated lying and cheating to gain an unfair advantage and circumvent established rules. We can argue the semantics of a level-playing field but isn’t there an inherent sense of wrong? What happened to that whole idea that if you ate your vegetables and listened to your elders, you would be a great athlete like him or her. You could do well in school and you could do well in the sports arena after school. What happened to that?

Look, I understand that everyone’s human. Sometimes I think our society views athletes as pillars of moral standing that embody all that is good. I mean, there are some that are…there are some that are not. I guess I’m just tired of being lied to. I’m tired of athletes saying they didn’t and then it comes out that they did. Then everyone’s backtracking, redacting, and can’t comment further on the topic.

This jaded cynicism doesn’t really do anything for me. I have my idols and those I believe in. I am learning everyday who is going to be there in the long run. Who I can really believe in. I do not thank them enough. However, I feel there is a generation of young children that will have a better knowledge of performance-enhancing drugs than any generation before them. This is probably the way of the world. The generations of the future live in a world that was only a dream for their descendants. Yet, I think this jaded cynicism robs a child of one of the most important notion of life: hope. pure, invincible hope.

These players lost faith in their ability. And in turn, I have lost my faith in them. I don’t think that broken bat is the only thing that is shattered forever in the minds of some young fans out there. Then again, I don’t know what the future brings. Maybe in 20 years, I will be watching ESPN and the anchors will mention an anecdote they have noticed:

“Everyone talks about 755. No one really mentions 762.”