Thoughts and Ramblings
The life of a soon to be college wannabe journalist.
It’s not often I sit down to write and it not be on assignment. Whether for school or freelance work, finding time to let thoughts pour out is difficult.
Don’t get me wrong, I love covering sports (maybe too much), but really it’s been my passion for writing that has me where I am today.
I’m a young guy — eighteen years old. I’ve been through a lot, so I think. Losing family. Friends. Moving far, far away from home. It’s been a ride. Now I’m here. Tapping away at the family desktop 2 AM in the morning.
I haven’t written an “exclusive” breakdown that I have been in the past year. Lately, I’ve been sticking to tweeting, writing small evaluations and podcasting. Since I’ve become a part of the sportswriting bloggesphere, I’ve gained some notoriety for writing quality articles. With some fine enough anaylsis.
I haven’t been writing about the NBA forever, I actually grew up a huge baseball fan. A huge Cubs fan, a suffering one for the most part. Throughout the years, whether it be my dad purchasing “NBA Street Homecourt” or playing “Madden 04” for the first time, I fell in love with sports. The drama, the quantifications, the connections it made with people around you? It’s the ultimate hobby.
This is something that’s not hard for me to admit now, but back in the day, it seemed always almost wrong to have such a passion for something that’s actually quite fickle.
“Do you love baseball,” my mom once asked me, while we were sitting at our dining room table in the suburbs of Chicago.
I didn’t know how to react. Of course I loved baseball. Everytime we went to Target or Wallmart my mom would let me pick out a few baseball card packs. I worshipped them. Eric Brynes, Mike Mussina, Jerry Hairston Junior. I could list names and batting averages and earned run averages for days. I had many binders where I stored massproduced pieces of cardboard with faces of grown men plastered on their fronts.
I remember going to visit Wrigley Field, standing on the field, looking out to the scoreboard.
I remember as a 12 year old pitching phenom, throwing a one hitter on 9 strikeouts in four innings.
‘Yes….” I said with a crack in my voice back to my mother, almost fearful of it being wrong or something.
“It’s okay to love baseball honey…”
That’s all I heard.
Since then, I’ve sat in my bed for hours listening to sports talk radio, not realizing how awful most of the anaylisis was until now. I played Madden and 2k into the wee hours, memorizing rosters and player’s strenghts and weaknesses.
Yet, I’m also the young by who discovvered blogging. And an appreciation for public speaking, acting, and creative writing. From speaking at 8th grade graduation, to the countless musicals and plays, to short stories and poetry, I found something that I loved as dearly as I did as sports — writing.
Really, if this wasn’t a norm for an first world child, I’d say that I’m not only in love with sports, but I’m obsessed. Addicted.
Since then, I’ve lived my life with the foundation of it being on what my favorite teams would do.
Derrick Rose got hurt again? You’re kidding. My night was ruined.
Cubs signed Kouske Fukodome? Eight year old me “WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME DAD.”
Jay Cutler threw another pic 6? Just a normal Sunday.
These circumstances and happenings that had nothing to do with me I left define my childhood. Just a harmless vice, right?
Over the past couple of years, I’ve focused my attention on covering and putting my passion into covering the NBA. It’s cool to like basketball. It’s even cooler to talk about it with your friends.
One thing led to the other, and soon I was writing columns using advanced statistics I had gotten from a fellow writer the week before, breaking down players I had never even seen tape on. I fell into this trap.
I’m covering what is popular, what is cool. After all, I couldn’t get enough of the past two NBA Finals. I love Kyrie Irving. I love exciting, action packed sports. It’s what I’ve trained myself to love.
But is what fate had put in my path, to cover the NBA, really my calling?
“Hold up Austin; you’re just 18 with a lifetime ahead of you. Why are you worrying about the dumb blogging you do now.”
I wasn’t worrying about my baseball card collection (addiction) either.
One of my better friends told me this past winter that I needed to find my niche.
“You need to find what you’re good at and stick out,” he said. “The writing talent is there, but how are you going to stick out in the crowd. Who you are matters in this social media world of personalities?”
I’ve pondered on this. I’m just another kid, with a overhyped social media following, churning away a column that 500 people skim every week.
How can I be different?
Well, figuring that out is a part of the process. Even Woj was a high school football reporter at my young, ripe age. He’s now breaking every single NBA news story there is to be had.
I’m not toast. Toast is burnt bread. If I wait to long to develop my voice, my prose, whatever your English 101 teacher calls it, will it be too late to be different?
What makes me different?
I’m the oldest of 6. Five half siblings. I grew up in a household that has held Judeo-Christian values. My father is African American and has been by my side my whole life. My biological father is a lawyer and has pushed me tin my love for sports. My mother is a loving women who raised me for 18 years. I’m a Chicagoan — I say my a’s weird and a I say “da” way too much. My best friend is in bars for a long, long time. My grandfather died, who was the older brother I never had. I moved from my hometown at age 17 to the other side of the country.
Nobody, when reading my writing or scrolling down my social media, or having a casual face to face conversation knows this. They don’t need to. They don’t want to. They shouldn’t.
Why do I mention it then?
Cause it matters. This right here, right now is the consequence of it. Context matters. Something I would write every 5 sentences in my basketball columns if people understood. My life experiences have molded me. Cliche, I know. But without the circmustances in my life I’m not here typing away. If I wasn’t addicted to sports, what would be I doing?
Would I be top of my class, not distracted from school and work? Would I be a different kind of son, sibling, and person? Would I love something that’s worth more? How could my time be used more efficiently? Would I have more friends?
Am I being too judgmental?
Perhaps. And perhaps I’m to focused on what I am right now. Focused too much on characterizing myself by way of the unchangeable past and change.
What I’ve decided to do, is instead of run away of what my past had made me to, is to embrace it.
I love baseball? Write more about baseball.
I love dramatic storylines? Write a novel.
I have a crazy life and family? Write a book one day chronicling it.
I’ve seen death, heartbreak, and change? Write poetry.
I love music. Make and write music.
Tomorrow, or as it really is today, I head off to the first day of college orientation and registration.
It’s a new chapter in my life. New people, new place, new opportunities. Majoring in journalism is no easy task. It’s a challenging, competitive field.
I’m not gonna fib. I’m scared. I’m going out and being my own person for the first time in my life. It’s not even that I was sheltered — when it’s time to be an adult, I’ve learned, you kinda have to be.
I know who I am. What I’m good at, bad at, and in between. I won’t run away from my past, passions, or imperfections. I’ll be myself.