stoner steps

    Well, for many readers, I’m sure this day couldn’t come soon enough.

    This is the day when certain members of the athletic department, all 500 intercollegiate athletes, 600 club sports athletes and all those distinguished members of the UCSD and La Jolla community who have been offended, outraged, unimpressed and bored with the pointless drivel under the heading “”Stoner Steps”” can rejoice.

    Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it’s true: This is the last installment of “”Stoner Steps,”” the column I have used to slander, observe, criticize, lampoon, connect and satirize various aspects of the sporting world for the last year and a half.

    It’s kind of funny really — here, in my last column, I find myself not really knowing what to say.

    This year as sports editor, I have spent over 850 hours in the Guardian office, and the one thing I’ve learned in those 850 hours is that no matter what you say, you can’t please everybody. No matter how many hours you spend attending games, interviewing players, checking facts, writing, doing layouts and proofreading, there will always be someone complaining.

    The sports section is too small. There should be more club sports. The content should be limited to UCSD sports. The section is too big. There should be less club sports. The date in one of the articles was wrong. You should know the name of one of the over 1,000 UCSD athletes in that photo. The name of one of the over 1,000 UCSD athletes is spelled wrong. The list could probably fill this issue’s whole sports section by itself.

    The past year I have had to swallow all these criticisms and more, and take them with a grain of salt. More often than not, though, it felt as if that grain of salt was being rubbed into an open wound, as complaint after complaint piled up on a sports section I worked long hours on for very little pay.

    This past year I have listened to these complaints, some said directly to my face (and to those who did, thank you for your direct honesty), and many said behind my back — and I have done my best to keep from responding personally.

    It’s been hard. Earlier this year, an athlete accosted me at a party and cussed me out in front of my friends and a bunch of complete strangers. Some stare at me with tactile hostility as I walk around campus. Even acquaintances from high school ride me about the content of the sports section.

    But it’s not the job of the journalist to respond. The job of the journalist is just to report, to produce in the face of a critical audience of thousands of people. For those writers out there, imagine how uncomfortable you are to show your writing to friends or to family. Well, multiply that by 11,000 and you’ll understand how I feel when I put my columns into the paper.

    The life of a journalist is a lonely and unappreciated one, indeed. Fans and readers can visually see how hard it is for athletes on the field or court — they intuitively know how hard it is to play a sport, either from personal experience or from watching it live or on television.

    But no one sees how hard it is to be on this side of the sport. You don’t see TV shows on ESPN documenting the challenges a journalist faces. There is no one to see the long hours in the office, the headaches on production day, or the headaches of a carefully planned section gone awry. All that is seen is the result.

    Being the dedicated sports journalist that I am (or at least, that I like to call myself), let’s relate it to sports.

    It’s analogous to a game score. The game score of, say, a basketball game, could be 96-95. However, this says nothing about the actual game. The score could have been close all game, or the losing team could have been down 50-0 and made a furious charge to come back and almost win.

    Well, I am the team that’s down 50-0. When I get into the office, there is all that blank space grinning at me, mocking me with its emptiness. Then there is a race against the clock to fill it with as much high-quality content as I can before the deadline.

    If this column seems a little whiny — a little defensive — you’re goddamn right it is. While my friends cavort and party and study hard and get good grades and play sports and sleep and enjoy themselves, I stare longingly at them out the window as I churn out another crappily written, last-minute column.

    During game seven of perhaps the greatest World Series ever, I was locked in the office doing production. During one of the most exciting Super Bowl’s in the last 10 years, I was chained to my computer, trying to write articles. Today, during game seven of one of the greatest NBA Western Conference Finals, I am once again stuck in the office, doing production.

    It seems as if even Gaeia is in on it, too. This quarter I have discovered this immutable law of nature, one that has been true without fail, a cause-and-effect as tested and true as gravity: if it is a production day when I have to be in the office all day, then it will be a beautiful day outside.

    Last weekend as I headed, grumbling, to the office early Sunday morning, my girlfriend tried to cheer me up with the observation that at least it was overcast and not a nice day.

    “”Just wait, it will be,”” I said, secure in the inevitability of my law. Sure enough, a few hours later, the sun’s rays taunted me through my window and tempted me with promises of relaxing at the beach, or jogging through the woods, or shooting hoops outside.

    But I digress. I suppose it wouldn’t be a true “”Stoner Steps”” if I didn’t wander off track at least once. There have been positives as well, the largest by far being the other great people I’ve had to work with on the Guardian staff. Tait, you have been a source of help and humor these last two quarters. Anu, you’ve learned the ropes quickly, and are more than capable of taking over the reins. All my sports writers: Thank you. You guys have no idea how much you’ve helped me this year. Josh does; he remembers the beginning of the year when we both wrote everything in the sports section. At times you guys have given me headaches, but in all I could not ask for a better group of writers.

    And to all those readers and even fans out there, if they exist: I wish I could have heard from you more. I wish I could have gotten the sense that people actually read the stuff I worked on for 850 hours this year. I wish I could have looked forward to coming into the office; you guys could have made that possible. But thank you anyways for reading, because words without anyone to read them are nothing.

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