The World of Sports: There’s more to the world than sports

I didn’t find many answers blowing in the wind on this past chilly Monday that interrupted a warm and sunny weekend, but I did find plenty of trash. Even as I opened the door to Seeds to purchase an overpriced Red Bull, a tornado of napkins and crumpled up receipts accompanied me inside.

We certainly have a beautiful campus, something I often take for granted but am reminded of each time I host a family member or friend. While it features a bit more concrete than other pristine campuses around the country, there is some escape that the hill behind Founders Park or the hill next to McCarthy Quad provides from the industrial environment that is downtown Los Angeles.

I’m graduating in exactly five weeks from this article’s publication, so perhaps my musings of appreciation for USC’s campus are through the dreaded graduation goggles that fog up the mundanity that comes with populating a small space for a long time. But, hey, it is a pretty campus — pick up trash when you see it.

As appropriate for someone graduating from college in a little over a month, I have been firing away on job applications. From newspapers to television stations to NFL teams, I’ve run the proverbial gauntlet of searching for jobs that might be a good fit for an English-turned-journalism major (If you are a hiring manager and are reading this, DM me).

In this process — and I promise that we’ll get to climate stuff soon — I’ve been lucky enough to get a couple interviews, not to brag. While I’ve prepared for each one, doing some research on the company and my potential role, what I’ve found is that I don’t know what exactly I want to do with my life and my love for journalism and sports.

If you haven’t participated in many job interviews thus far, here’s a sneak peak. You will almost certainly be asked about your career goals or where you see yourself  in 10 years or some variation of this existential question. And, I mean, this is something that I do think about, but I think about it as if I’m filling out a March Madness bracket: There are seemingly endless combinations of what might happen and, while I might put a lot of time and effort into each pick, I have no idea what my future holds.

I do my best to express this, saying something along the lines of “I have varied interests and could see myself going down a range of career paths, but am just excited to see what the next step is.” But even writing that sentence out, I got bored. It’s not a substantial answer, even if it is accurate.

What I’ve recently added to my rehearsed-but-often-rambling answer to said existential question is a possibly silly idea of purchasing a VW camper van and driving from Canada to Chile over the course of a year or two, stopping hundreds of times along the way to evaluate the natural world. I want to scope out what’s happening to it: what humankind is doing to hurt the environment, what we are doing to help it; who cares, who doesn’t care.

Maybe I’d write a book about it or blog about it. I guess I’d have to monetize it somehow to make it worth it (right?).

But anyway, I’ve started giving a version of this answer in job interviews, some of which are in the sports world, the remainder of which are in the journalism world and many of which are in both worlds.

I would love to have a career in sports journalism. I think that sports highlight some of the best aspects of humankind: resilience, competition, unity, to name a few. I also, however, think that the sports industry, like everything in the entertainment industry, is in danger of increasing the strain it is putting on our environment, in every sense. What is SoFi Stadium’s role in the price-gouging of properties in Inglewood? It’s significant. How much of an environmental footprint does professional sports as an industry have? A pretty big one.

There have been great strides in the sports industry to reverse the negative impact it has had on the environment. I’ve tried to cover some of them in this column. But, as L.A. Clippers guard Russell Westbrook once said, “I’m never satisfied. I’m always trying to get better and learn from my mistakes.” 

Like Westbrook’s problem with turnovers, the sports industry certainly has room for improvement in its carbon footprint and the way it treats low-income communities. As the world continues to look different every day, so too must the world of sports.

I don’t know what my role in any of that will be, but I hope to contribute in some way. Whether it’s working as a beat reporter for the Buffalo Bills or as an intern at ABC or just picking up trash when I see it, the world will always be bigger than just sports.

Patrick Warren is an associate managing editor and a senior writing about the relationship between sports and climate change. His column, “The World of Sports,” runs every other Friday.