The sports stories worth telling underscore a passion for people

Graphic courtesy of Charis Tsevis, Flickr

Graphic courtesy of Charis Tsevis, Flickr

Sports. The always-ridiculed section of the newspaper. Why do we even write about sports? It’s a bunch of men and women competing and aiming for glory with nothing but a singlet, a helmet or a racket to assist them.

Of course, there are flaws in the sports industry. We consistently see issues of drug doping, infidelity and, of course, absurd amounts of money at the professional level.

We see the contradiction between academic excellence and monetary gain at the collegiate level to go along with recruiting scandals and the fact that collegiate athletes are not making any money from their hours of hard work to benefit their university.

Yet, sports continues to be my passion. I’m not exactly sure why yet — it could have something to do with the bond that my father and I fostered over our mutual love for sports or the great memories that I have from my own days as an athlete growing up — but sports it is. On that I’ve decided.

I think athletes are some of the most impressive people walking around USC’s campus. It isn’t everyday that someone manages to maintain a GPA and compete for a national championship in their given sport.

Athletes are the unsung heroes of the campus who dedicate so much to the team, the school and the community. I like this aspect of sports. I like the people who are behind the athletes much more than the results of the game.

That isn’t to say that I don’t love a good rivalry game. I cheer as loud as anyone in the Coliseum, but my trade is storytelling. I find true passion when I am writing about athletes away from their game.

There is a delicate balance in this field of telling these “fluffy” stories and giving the hard facts about what happened during a game. There is also a terrible misconception that sports journalists are out to dig up dirt about athletes and expose all of the ways they aren’t good role models for kids. This certainly isn’t the case for me.

An athlete is just a person who is far more talented and athletic than I am. That is how I approach them and that’s what I like to make people see — athletes are people too. I thrive on telling the stories that people supposedly don’t want to read, the stories about community service, dedication to family and the road to recovery from injury.

Perhaps I’m a dying or misunderstood breed, but I maintain my faith that sports fans are interested in who athletes are as people. Those stories take more work, are harder to come by and return less in hits or reads or whatever we measure success by in journalism. At the end of the day, though, those are the sports stories worth telling.

It’s an always-difficult decision to pursue, but in reality, the choice really isn’t hard. It’s simply about showing respect and understanding of the athlete as human.

Hailey Tucker is a sophomore majoring in broadcast and digital journalism. She is also the sports editor of the Daily Trojan.