ON THE BENCH: Gender provides unique perspective in covering sports

Amber North

Okay, before I begin, I want to make things clear.

Yes, I am female. And yes, I am a sportswriter.

More shockingly (brace yourselves, now), I’m a female sportswriter who actually knows about the sports I write about.

I know, I know, it may seem weird – especially for the testosterone specimen to grasp – but it’s true.

Although I’m usually a crazy person, my insanity level is to the max when it comes to watching my teams play on TV.

Because of my sports obsession, I have been a) laughed at, b) admired, or c) laughed at, then admired. It’s been something I had to deal with since I was a small and innocent 10-year-old.

While other girls at that age were thinking about boys, I was busy trying to find a solution to my San Francisco 49ers always choking against the Green Bay Packers in the playoffs.

During their childhood, kids had to face questions about who they admired and what they wanted to be when they grew up.

There’d be the cute little kids saying they want to save the world or to be President, then there would be the sweet little kids who wanted to be like their mothers or fathers.

Then it would be that one weird kid who said she wanted to be the first female NBA player – that crazy kid being yours truly, of course.

Yeah, I loved my parents, but I just could not ignore my calling of becoming the next Penny Hardaway. I know he has now slowly faded into obscurity, but back then he was a playmaking genius. It is safe to say that he made me instantly fall in love with basketball.

Since then, that has been the case. Although I love football and baseball, basketball is my life. When the NCAA season ends in April, I go through withdrawal until the first practice begins October 15.

I came to my senses and outgrew my NBA dreams, realizing I wouldn’t be fully content with that career choice. I then discovered sports writing. Since I loved sports and loved to write, I figured I’d put one and one together and go with that.

I knew that I could not solely rely on my charm and good looks to succeed in the sports world, so I figured that my sports knowledge would complete the package.

Alas, I lack in the charm and good looks department, so my sports knowledge was all I had.

Discussing politics or world affairs or economic issues with me is like the Cincinnati Bengals having a No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft every year – it’s pointless.

But when a sports topic pops up, you need 25 fire hoses to shut me up.

My fascination of informing people about sports has always been a sweet dream of mine.

Whether I’m arguing that the New York Yankees are ruining pro baseball, or why Roy Williams is more likely to choke than win the NCAA tournament. Whatever it was, I always did it with passion and excitement.

Being on the Herald this semester was a great opportunity for me, especially since this was my first gig (with the exception of jobs at small teen newspapers and high school) as a real sportswriter.

When I set foot in the Herald office for the first time, a wave of mixed emotions rushed through my body. Not only was I a freshman, but the only female on the sports staff.

It wasn’t as bad as I thought. I’ll admit, I thought I was going to be treated as an afterthought while the guys talked beer and hot chicks nonstop.

Thankfully, I was wrong, and became comfortable with the sports atmosphere. I had the privilege to interview great coaches and great players, and they were all fair and treated me with respect.

I know I won’t always be as lucky, but it’s something I have gotten used to when working in a male-dominated field.

Nonetheless, sportswriting is definitely worth dealing with a few hecklers and I can’t see myself doing anything else.

I’d finish with a trite word of wisdom for all the aspiring female sportswriters out there, but I’m a horrible actor when it comes to pretending I’m wise and intelligent.

Enjoy six more semesters of me.

Amber North is freshman print journalism major from Nashville. You can reach her at [email protected]