It’s a difficult position to be in: to be a reporter and a sports fan at the same time. As journalists, we’re supposed to remain objective about the subjects we write on, almost to the point of being stoic. But sitting in the stands with a friend last Saturday night as the Cal Poly men’s basketball team took on University of California Santa Barbara in front of a sold-out crowd at Mott Gym, I felt torn.
How do you sit among your peers who are cheering for their school’s team without partaking in the fun yourself?
The Mustangs came out strong in the beginning of the first period and at one point led the Gauchos by eight. By the end, Cal Poly was down by six and the crowd around me was getting angry. Parents and students yelled out to the referees for bad calls, and an older man near Santa Barbara’s basket stood up from his seat and almost went out on the court to yell at the referee.
It was hard not to get caught up in the moment and the atmosphere the fans at Mott Gym created.
Being a student myself, my natural reaction is to cheer and jeer for my school’s team. It’s more difficult than one might imagine: idly sitting in the stands with more than 3,000 people and not clapping when Shawn Lewis dribbled down court for a dunk when surrounded by Santa Barbara players. Or when Jordan Lewis made a lay-up with 5.5 seconds left in the game, a point that helped put the Mustangs up by one and helped clinch the win for the team.
Watching head coach Joe Callero walk to the student section at the end of the game and saying “thank you” to the crowd for their support was heart-warming. Seeing the emotion on David Hanson’s face and the giant smile on Ryan Darling’s was enough to make me want to yell until my voice was hoarse, proud that my school had played hard and come out victorious.
But I didn’t because I couldn’t.
I enjoy sitting in the stands and seeing the older fans come out to cheer on a group of men who they have no connection with other than they attend school in their town or to see the little kids run up to the men as if they were their idols. That itself is enough to keep me coming back.
It’s a hard thing to be a reporter and a sports fan at the same time, but I welcome the challenge.