There was a time in my life when I would have sold my third child to cover a Super Bowl.
Then, somewhere along the way, I never had a third child and the entire realm of professional sports took a back seat to so many other things.
This morning, exactly 75.44 miles (according to mapquest.com) from where I sit inside my humble abode, Super Bowl XLVIII is holding its annual mockery of a media day; five days before the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos do battle for all the marbles from the most recent NFL season.
Many of my in-state cohorts and counterparts are down there, in Newark, N.J., looking for the serious story or interesting angle. And they’re going to do a helluva job because they were some of the most talented, top-notch journalists I’ve worked with (and against) in my career.
But they are also standing side by side with journalistic jokes who are dressed in ridiculous costumes to ask the dumbest of questions of athletes who are held in higher esteem than they deserve to be just because they have a supernatural athletic talent.
Yes, I could have been there, too. I could easily have been credentialed as one of the masses and gotten up at 4 a.m to make the journey, down and back, through traffic’s version of Hell.
Once upon a time, I’d have been there. Not any more. I have far more important things to do.
Instead, tonight, I’ll be covering a high school basketball game as one of our two hometown teams takes on one of the best teams in the league. Our local team is in a fight for its postseason life and to those athletes, and our readers, that story is far more important to tell than what’s going on in the swamplands of Jersey.
Peyton Manning? Russell Wilson?
I’m passing on them so I can watch Zaire Wilson and Evan Skoparantzos square off along side their respective teams.
Now don’t get me wrong. I fully comprehend the importance of the Super Bowl to our readers, especially this year since it’s being held in our backyard of the Tri-State Region where we work and live. Every day, multiple stories will be put in our Sports Section so readers can know what’s happening on the western side of the Hudson River.
But we pay good money to a wire service to cover the national sports scene and I’m more than happy to let them do the job so that I am freed up to take care of our bread and butter — our local athletes, who pick up our paper every day (or, in the 21st century, go to our website) in hopes of seeing their names, their teams splashed across the front of the sports page.
Plus, I’ve learned, covering these great national championship events isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.
Last spring, I journeyed to New Orleans to cover the UConn women’s basketball team as it won its latest NCAA championship. The media — the beat writers for the teams covering the story — were tucked off in a corner, with the worst possible angle to view the game. This allowed all the NCAA big wigs to sit court-side with the best seats in the house.
Plus, in this day and age of earlier deadlines in our business, I found that doing the job to the best of my ability was actually a handicap. The best story never saw the light of the day in our print edition. Instead, the story was placed on the web where readers had 1,000 other options and stories to choose from. It just wasn’t the same as it used to be and certainly didn’t have the glamour I thought it would.
So when the Super Bowl came to town, I never even asked for a credential, never even considered it.
If the Giants or Jets (haha, sorry, just some comic relief there) had been involved, it might have been different a story.
I’ll pass. And besides I’ll get to watch the game from the comforts of the office on Sunday and get to enjoy the commercials, as well.