My Journey Becoming An Opinionated Sports Writer

As with many sports writers, before I wrote about sports, I played them. Although the playing days may seem long gone, the memories you take away from sports help shape the person you are today. This article will explore my recent past as an athlete and how it lead me to become a sports journalist.

Despite nearly every article in my repertoire focused on football, baseball was actually my first love. I played for 10 years, excelling mostly at pitcher, first base, short stop and center fielder. I developed the role of a relief pitcher; strikes were my forte. Fielding grounders came with practice, whereas catching popups came more naturally to me.

As far as my time playing high school football is concerned, I didn’t put up extremely gaudy numbers.  In my four years playing, I saw action in 37 games, starting 17, and probably registered about 100 tackles. I also intercepted two passes for 13 yards, forced five fumbles, and recovered four fumbles, one of which I returned five yards. Maybe that ain’t too shabby for 17 starts, almost equivalent to a full season in the NFL. I also saw significant time on special teams – kickoffs, kick returns, punts and punt returns. All in all, I tackled, I ran, I forced a few turnovers, I blitzed, I blocked and I loved every minute of it.

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Well, except the injuries. I missed two games in 2009 due to lingering effects from a concussion and one game in 2010 from a sprained ankle. I also fractured my pinky and sprained my wrist somewhere along the way too. Thankfully, my knees were always in strong condition, and those are one of the most vital body parts for football.

Whether it was because my coaches viewed me as versatile or couldn’t figure out where I’d excel best, I ended up playing several positions all over the field.  Predominantly a defensive player, I earned playing time at free and strong safety, corner back, outside linebacker, middle linebacker and even stand up defensive end – all 175 pounds of me listed on the generous gameday booklet.

After maybe my sophomore season, I decided I wasn’t going to play college football. My reasoning was simple: the physical (and sometimes mental or emotional) pain caused me to lose interest in the game. I couldn’t play a sport that my heart wasn’t into.

I enjoyed my time playing at Bethesda – Chevy Chase and I’m still close with many of my fellow players/brothers.

With a renown passion for writing, I decided I wanted to make use of my football knowledge.  There are many things sports writers can write about. There are anecdotal pieces, articles that tell the story of a particular experience.  Then there are articles that convey a genuine sense of expertise – in statistics, team or league histories, or rules to the game – you name it. These articles are fun to write because they inform the audience of information that may go under the radar and unnoticed.  I enjoy writing about football terminology that is rarely defined, as well as offensive and defensive assignments that the average fan would want to know more about.

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Lastly, there are highly opinionated articles. These pieces avoid relaying the same cliches over and over. Instead, these kinds of articles offer a unique perspective to sports, one that argues for or against something. Maybe there’s a controversial rule change, something that an athlete said in the media, or a bold prediction that bears a written narrative.

The special thing about opinionated articles is that they generate discussions like no other kind. Even right now, someone probably just read that and disagrees with it. That’s fine; that’s the beauty in diversity. But, back to my point. I want others to approach me. I encourage dissent and disagreement. Listening to someone agree with my thoughts on why we should eliminate kickoffs or why cover 2 is the best defensive coverage to employ would be boring. Bring the opinions. Bring the chatter. There is no right or wrong in the realm of sports.

 

 

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An athlete for most of his life, Michael Sullivan played recreational league baseball for ten years and High School football for four. His writing for The Game Haus focuses mostly on the NFL. Michael used to write weekly articles for The Odyssey at Towson University.

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