I sit in bed watching ESPN on my Ipad, which is amazing, first because I am lazy and like to spend my first waking hour contemplating what sort of insane trouble college football is in, and second because I am one of three people in America without HDTV. I am giddy, giddy at the fact that beat writers in LA are going to be freaking out over Andrew Bynum’s trust comments. And freak out they do. One writer actually threatened to go down to Staples Center and give the team an inspirational speech a la The King’s Speech…”We will overcome this hurdle, we will move forward, with grace..with determination and with the heart of a champion still beating inside us”
My advice to freakout beater? Get a drink. It is around cinco de mayo and you shouldn’t be dwelling on things like the Lakers getting knocked out of the playoffs, even though it is your job, a soon to be over job. Shoot out an article about the sunset in Los Angeles and let the chaos ensue. Dirk reigns, even though I called them the laughing stock of the NBA due to Mark Cuban but old Mark has finally shut it and I wear will wear leeches and flog myself while typing a formal letter of apology.
Beat writers. My advice to aspiring beat writers is that you should, for the most part, strike journalistically while the iron is hot. Imagine being a beat writer for the Cavaliers after Lebron? The Mets? The Panthers? Well, the Panthers will be interesting until Cam Newton finds his way out but for the most part, beat writing seems to be a slog after the first few years. Very few franchises are continually intriguing, or continually great. If you live long enough, you may see something great, or you may have a heart attack after a preseason game and drive off a bridge.
My generation has ADD, there will be no more beat writers by the time we are through. No one wants to get up everyday, look at the same millionaires or soon to be millionaires while you contemplate refinancing your three bedroom house, and write about them in a scowling, jealous rage or the stale praise of a book reviewer.
How can you gauge style if you don’t have variety? I’ve seen more than one beat writer drop dead at their desk because their wife accidentally texted them when they meant to text their boss about their after work rendezvous while a story comes over the AP wire about some new rookie just got signed for $5 million, the brain can’t handle such karmic madness.
ESPN will become a socialist enterprise. No one wants to hear about fast break points from a 300 pound fat guy, like that guy on the couch who predicts football games for ESPN, you will be first chubs. They will allow only the physically fit to report on sports and beautiful girl next door types like Michelle Beadle, who could tell me I have terminal cancer and I would still look for a way to ask her out for a drink. Has anyone noticed the sort of serfdom most radio hosts at that network are subject to? Working 20 hours straight, 1pm radio show, 11pm sportscenter, 6am radio show, 6 PM Sportscenter…
Athletes are strange creatures. Study them like you would a fetal pig. At a safe distance. Remember that if they are forced to write an open letter about the state of their team going forward, most people would be embarrassed to read it. You are the writer. You are the one who writes the story. Get a little crazy. Own history. And stop reading other beat writers and copy and paste from the Surrealist Manifesto at any chance you get, give construction workers a little arts and culture at 5am on the Long Island Rail Road. They might just look out the window and wonder if they are dreaming…