Thursday, August 26, 2010

Game changer

I was one of the lucky ones.

I was one of those people who woke up every day and went off to a job that I genuinely loved.

Oh sure. I bitched. I complained. NOBODY likes to cover soccer. In the snow. Or spend four days in a hotel room. In Sulphur. To cover swimming. Or drive to West Monroe.

But those were mere nuisances.

Because for more than 20 years, The Times-Picayune paid me to cover games. Football games, baseball games, basketball games, volleyball games, golf, tennis, wrestling, track and field and, yes, even soccer.

And while everybody else had to pay to get in, I got paid to get in for free. Occasionally I even got a hot dog or some jambalaya. Lutcher folks gave me candy.

Sure, sometimes it was miserably hot. Sometimes it was bitterly cold. Sometimes I wished I had become a school teacher instead.

Not often.

Because I genuinely loved what I did.

And because I was damned good at it.

Yes I won awards. A couple of big ones. But I'm prouder of the fact that I never blew a deadline. And I became the one to do the late games because I was fast. And good.

There is nothing as exciting as writing a game story on deadline. The rush of adding up statistics, coming up with a storyline, then a lead and putting it all together in 15 minutes. Or less. Then getting your computer to work. In the old days I used to have to drive back to my office. That made the work dangerous.

And thrilling.

Sometimes it would take me hours to come down from the high.

Then they took me down.

The newspaper business is hanging by a thread, they said. Everybody has to do their part. You have to give up what you love. We need you to answer the phone instead. Greet the customers we still have. We'll get other people to do what you've been doing for 20 years.

This after I spent months in anguish over whether to stay or go with a buyout offer in my hand. After changing my mind a million times. After ultimately deciding that I could not leave because this wasn't just what I do, this is Who I Am.

They took it from me. And tonight, instead of kicking off my 20th football season of River Parishes football, I came home and watched football on TV.

I know I should be thankful to HAVE a job. Many don't. And it's not a bad job. I sit. And answer the phone. And make sure people can pay their bills. And rewrite crime briefs. And chase stolen flamingos. And wonder if this would have happened to me if I was not a woman. And try to find peace.

At the same time I mourn the things I can no longer do, I celebrate the things I no longer have to do. And there are some rainbows in this cloud.

I can go away for a whole weekend. I can go to Disney World for Thanksgiving. I can go to the the Natchitoches Christmas festival in December. I can take a sick day without worrying about how much work I'll have to make up tomorrow.

There will be no more soccer in the snow. No more bees and wasps in the press box. But no more Friday night football games. No more spring afternoon baseball games. No more overtime basketball games. No more volleyball tournament. No more bylines in the sports section.

And that just breaks my heart.

2 comments:

  1. It's our loss too! You are good, and your peers know it. I hate to see you going through this transition, and hopefully the powers that be will realize it. Until then we (Lora and I) still love you and worry about you. You will always be "our sportswriter of the year".
    Love Marty

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  2. It breaks my heart too! Just remember for everything there is a reason. It is not for us to question, but to accept. There is something that is waiting for you that will fill the empty space in your heart and soul. And, while waiting for that to become clear, enjoy your family and friends and write about flamingo's!
    Love,
    JO

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