Column: What my first year covering SEC football taught me

The vibration of clanging stadium cowbells on beat feels completely different standing on the painted, turf sidelines under Saturday night lights.

The first time I placed both of my feet on Scott Field, I felt a wave of thrill and nerves through my core. In those first few steps, I realized how much I love what I do.

Being a sports reporter is not as easy as it looks. There are late nights full of excitement and team pride, but there are also low energy late nights where defeat spreads disappointment from the stands into the press conference room. There are plenty of moments where I realized how impactful repeated defeats are to a team who works so hard day in and day out.

I recall sitting in the press conference room following the Mississippi State University loss to the University of Alabama. I sat in that room with many other reporters from local papers, TV and radio stations, waiting for MSU’s head coach Joe Moorhead and his players to come out and tell us the same things we had heard all season after a loss.

It’s not difficult to anticipate what a team will say after a loss; normally, it’s in the same pattern or theme worded almost identically each Saturday night. Something along the lines of, “The team will continue to work hard,” “The team needs to fix certain obvious things,” and, “The team will overcome this adversity” are all expected cookie-cutter answers after a fresh loss.

The MSU-Alabama game sticks out in my mind because there was something different about the atmosphere following that game. Maybe because we were in Tuscaloosa instead of Starkville, or maybe it was because the MSU quarterback Nick Fitzgerald, a senior from Richmond Hills, Georgia, and the MSU offense showed so much improvement and synchrony that the game held an aura of hope: MSU might actually score. Either way, the conference room was really sad after the Alabama shutout loss, a game that was full of controversy.

Games like MSU vs. Alabama prove to be an example of how exciting, wonderful and yet, absolutely terrible it can be to turn off being a fan and turn on the function of being a sports reporter.

Nothing is quite like it, and being a journalist for almost eight years has not shown me anything that carries the emotion and suspense for so many people at once who come together to celebrate and fight like SEC football.

Despite the challenge of switching gears from fan to reporter, there are plenty of positive aspects with being a sports reporter this season.

Being able to sit in the press conferences and listen to what is happening on and off the field, the opportunities to learn from others in the field, and absorbing tools and resources to improve my reporting have been wonderful.

By branching out and trying out sports reporting, I found great people, a great experience and more enjoyment than I expected. 

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