Lee: Things I can tell you about this job that I couldn’t before

Members of Dawg Pound raise their hands up during a free throw. Next Butler basketball season, former sports editor Dana Lee will be among them. Jimmy Lafakis/Collegian file photo.

DANA LEE | SPORTS EDITOR | delee1@butler.edu

If you’ve made it this far into the Collegian website, you know that I’ll be a retired sportswriter by the time this column publishes.

Which means I’m allowed to tell you things about this job that I couldn’t before. Like what it’s like to sit in Kelan Martin’s kitchen and watch the school’s second all-time scorer cook a dozen slices of turkey bacon. Hey, I wanted to know what Martin’s secret was, and turkey bacon was evidently part of it.

But that’s just a tease. Hopefully you’re still reading by the time I get to that particular part.

I’ve been writing in this section for three years and most recently dabbled in sports editing, so it was only a matter of time before the higher authorities came to their senses and kicked me out. Starting next year, I’ll be stepping in as editor-in-chief, effectively moving away from sports.

My co-sports editor has concerns of course, and because he is kind, implied that this section may not run the same after my departure. He’s right. It’ll be better, if this past year is an indication of what’s to come.

This is what I’m talking about: reporters writing game recaps in the car, roaming Atherton in a herculean, if not stalkerish Hail Mary effort to track down additional sources, and sacrificing a Friday night because their editor got it in her head that the photo files needed to be reorganized. This is what I will miss.

If I were an athlete, I suppose the equivalent of this farewell column would be the same as an athlete tweeting to the world that they’re ready to retire.

Only I’m not an athlete, nor am I inclined to believe that dunking basketballs is in my future. I’m 5-foot-3-inches, if you couldn’t tell from my byline. And when I tweet, I’m not exactly tweeting to the world, unless your definition of the world is 276 followers.

If you’re still here, I’m assuming the Martin tease will only hold for a few more paragraphs, which means I better get a move on it. Or maybe just come clean and admit the sports section is running low on content this week and needed longer word counts.

That second part is mostly true, by the way.

Don’t be surprised, I started this column by saying I could tell you things about this job that I couldn’t before. The biggest lie sportswriters tell readers is that we aren’t fans too. How do you think we got sucked into this business anyways?

Doctors were patients before becoming doctors, and teachers were students before becoming teachers. This I know: sportswriters were fans before becoming sportswriters.

My dad took me to my first Cubs game years before I attended my first journalism class. At Wrigley, I became afflicted with the sickness of fandom forever, a virus that threatens to purge all journalistic objectivity. Thanks, Dad.  

As professionals, we protest. No cheering in the press box! Sports journalists must be immune to favoritism! Harden your heart against the underdogs, and should it turn cold and useless, then alas, such is the price of good journalism.

Noble, isn’t it? Sportswriter Frank DeFord once characterized sportswriters as emotional eunuchs. Selfishly, I’d like to point out that not all sportswriters are male, but the metaphor works just the same. DeFord also wrote that it’s all a charade.

I think he might be right. We aren’t only fans, but shh…we can be human too. We aren’t lost causes just yet, and in December, I could feel my own mortality. Because the moment Butler beat No. 1 Villanova, the press credential around my neck started to feel strangling.

You’re damn right I wanted to storm the court.

Maybe next year I will. I can be like every other fan in Dawg Pound. I too, can muddle through the school’s fight song. And finally, I’ll wear the Butler shirts I couldn’t before, because maintaining a wardrobe as neutral as a reporter’s opinions is a must during basketball season.

Truly, all credibility is gone the moment you show up wearing the team’s logo. Forgiving, journalism is not.

Fans have it best and they should know it. Journalists may have the bigger microphone, but god forbid if anyone accuses you of fangirling over the player you just profiled.

When Butler scores their first basket next year, I imagine it might be strange, to be a reborn fan. Who knows, it might just be my favorite retirement benefit.


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