Hello. My name is Alyssa. And I am a Gators fan.
Is that all you have to admit here today?
Well, no. I am also a Steelers fan. And a struggling Mets fan. And I have a deep-rooted love for Penn State football.
And is that all?
Well, no. I am also a sportswriter. And I love sports.
Oh. I see. Thank you for your honesty. I know that must have been difficult. And remember: Just 12 steps from today, we will cure you of these addictions. Even if we have to beat them out of you.
This is often how I feel when I am around other members of the sports media. Especially when I am covering football. By this time, any love of the sport of football or specific teams should have been beaten out of me by steroid scandals, mid-season firings, self-inflicted gunshot wounds and Super Bowl MVPs with rap sheets longer than most rappers. Many writers are so jaded on sports that, like your fifth-grade teacher who realized about 15 years earlier that she hated kids, many of my colleagues go to work every day with a scowl. I refuse to become one of those people.
Which is why I love the fact that I work at a magazine where we are encouraged to wear our sports fandom on our sleeve—along with the colors of our favorite teams. At ESPN The Mag, we are expected to be the voice of the fan, and it’s pretty tough to do that if we are not fans ourselves. Of course, we put our alliances aside when writing and reporting stories, and we are able to look objectively at sports. (Yes, it’s true!)
This is why we can be a fan of our college team, but not of the current coach (as I am not) or of our quarterback for Heisman (as I was not). It is why we can be a Gators fan who votes Georgia our pre-season number one, is blown away by the amazing fans at LSU and wishes every team’s front office personnel conducted themselves with the professionalism of the Oregon Ducks. We realize that the closer we get to sports, the more we pull back the curtain, the more we question the actions of coaches and players, the more we risk losing our status as happy-go-lucky fans. But that’s okay. As sportswriters, that is our job. As fans, we know that coaches and players and defensive schemes come and go. But we will always have a soft spot (and a pair of team-colored socks) for the school where we earned our diploma and the city where we were born and raised.
That’s why I spent the last five minutes of the Florida-Oklahoma game on the field with my editor (and the Gators cheerleaders) and then celebrated a win by my alma-mater with very little guilt. (This was helped by infrequent eye contact with my non-ESPN friends and colleagues.) It is also why said colleagues were able to put aside their status as Gator Haters and celebrate for a minute with me. (Okay, 47 seconds, tops.)
It is also why, on Sunday morning, three days after the Gators victory, I put on my snowboard pants and sweatshirt and jacket … and then put my Steelers jersey over all of it, put a Terrible Towel in my back pocket (and a Steelers beanie on Lindsay) and hit the Park City slopes. Because sports are supposed to be fun. And I don’t plan to change my feelings about that any time soon.
THE PRESS BOX IS A TOUGH PLACE FOR A FORMER CHEERLEADER, NO MATTER WHO’S PLAYING. BUT ESPECIALLY WHEN IT’S THE GATORS OR STEELERS.
BUT AFTER THE GAME, AND OUT OF THE PRESS BOX, I WAS ABLE TO SNEAK IN SOME CELEBRATION TIME WITH MY TWO FAVORITE REPTILES.
THE MOST SPIRITED SNOWBOARDER ON THE MOUNTAIN …
A SNOW COUCH?! WHERE IS THE SNOW TV AND SNOW IRON CITY LITE?!
JUST A REALLY COOL SHOT (TAKEN BY LINDSAY) … FOR THE RECORD, THAT IS NOT A TOMCZAK JERSEY. BUT IT IS THE CLOSEST I’LL EVER COME TO BEING A MEMBER OF THE PITTSBURGH STEELERS. (THANKS FOR THE JERSEY, TOM!)