Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I Was A Sports Writer...For One Day

I was driving home tonight, and a thought popped up in my mind. I had a one day experience as a sports writer for my local town paper, The Daily Democrat in Woodland, Ca.
All I remember is answering an ad in the classifieds about a part time sports writers job. This was in the fall of 1995. I had previous experience writing for my highschool paper, The Woodland High Orange Peel. Keep in mind I hadn't written anything set for publication in five years at the time. I had dreams about being a sports writer in high school. My dreams were crushed when I met a beat writer for the Sacramento Bee. She covered the A's. This was at the 1989 All-Star Game in Anahiem. I approached her after the game. I told her what I wanted to do for a career. She looked at me and said, "That sounds great, but get into a business where you can make some money. There is no money in writing." I couldn't believe she would say something like that. I thought if she was unhappy with her job, then why pursue it for myself?
So after high school I gave up writing and ended up lost.
I still read the sports pages everyday. Over the years I thought writing was my calling. So the ad in the paper was a answer to my prayers.
So I called the paper and spoke to the sports editor. He had me come to the office and do a typing test. I remember it was just re-typing a wire story from Pittsburgh. I think about the Steelers. I took a very long time to type the story. Then he said I had two choices. Cover a girls tennis match at the local racquet club, or cover a boys soccer game. I chose the soccer game.
So I then made preparations for the game. I bought a note pad, pens and pencils, and a tape recorder. I wanted to show I meant business.
So I show up to the game and do my pre-game interviews with the coaches. I identified myself as "Felix Castaneda with The Daily Democrat".
I walk up to the pressbox and find a place to sit. There were a few other people in there.
Then the game begins. Then two things occur to me. One, I hated soccer. Second, I knew nothing about soccer. So I'm sitting there asking questions about the game I'm supposed to be covering.
After the game I do my postgame interviews with the winning goalie who didn't speak English.
So I go home and write my story. My deadline was midnight. The game ended around 7pm. Five hours to write the story, no problem!
Big problem.....I didn't have a computer. I wanted to submit my story looking as professional as I could. So I eat dinner and write the story. Woodland didn't have a Kinko's at the time. So I went to Davis and typed my story. I remember referring to assists as "set-ups" and trying to be witty by saying, "the winning goalie had the night off, he didn't even need to show up as the Woodland defenders help keep the attackers away from the goal net". I then realize the story is costing me money. After the computer time, tape recorder($35), and the other materials, I was out almost $60!
Its almost midnight and I finally submit my story in the overnight box at the newspaper office. I went to bed thinking I had a future in the business.
I woke up and discovered I was dreaming. The sports editor calls me and say he got the story and in his words it was "Alright, it was okay". He told me he was going to publish it but he said I had a lot of work to do if I was going to be a sports writer. He said he would get back to me for a future assingment. I never heard from him again. My dreams crushed again.
I remember thinking it was cool to see my name on a byline, and I could say I had published work. But no one cared. Neither did I. I threw my copy away.
I hated that bastard since. But I have grown to love soccer over the last few years!

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