It’s Superbowl Sunday and everywhere you look it’s Patriots, Patriots, Patriots! You can’t escape it, particularly when you turn on the news. All of the anchors and reporters have been in Indianapolis all week and the front page of all of the newspapers have had some sort of football photo every day. It’s Gronk this and Gronk that. Game day recipes, t-shirts designs, half-time show bloopers. Don’t even get me started on the commercial teasers. The local ABC affiliate even ran a story about “20 Things You Don’t Know About Bill Belichick’s Girlfriend” (I’m not kidding. Here’s the link. But remember, if you read it, that’s 60 seconds of your life you can never get back!)
The point is, sports are a BIG deal in this town. I know that. You know that. The only person who doesn’t know that is a certain professor at Boston University who gave me a C on my radio journalism midterm back when I was a student in her class. I know it’s crazy that I’m still bitter nearly 10 years later, but it’s the single worst grade I ever got on a major assignment, and I didn’t deserve it!
My radio journalism midterm took place on the same day as the Red Sox home opener that year. As the big sports fan that I am, I went with a few friends to camp out at Fenway Park to get tickets to the game. After hours of not sleeping much, out in the cold, we finally got our tickets, obstructed view, and I made my way directly to class. Do not pass go, do not collect $200, do not stop at home to shower first.
Maybe I was in no condition to take a midterm at that point. I had clearly spent the night doing something that was not studying. But at least I showed up for the test, something that could not be said for the couple of my classmates whom I had also seen camped out at the box office.
The assignment for our midterm was to write a mock newscast for Boston’s news radio station. We had to complete three or four full stories and write headlines for everything else. Grades would be based on grammar and style, of course, but also on the organization of our headlines. There are “rules” about what kinds of stories go where within a newscast. Assuming there are four or five “blocks” of stories separated by commercials, weather typically goes in the C block, sports goes in the D block, and the most important stories of the day obviously start the A block.
Maybe I had too much Red Sox on the brain, but I made the craaaaaazy decision to lead my newscast with a story about Opening Day at Fenway. The rest of my stories were well-written and well-organized, but my professor strongly disagreed with my sports-first mentality and made the craaaaaazy decision to give me a C on the exam. Sports don’t come first? Well, clearly, she’s not from around here.
Maybe I’ll give my former professor the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she was just trying to teach us all the “right” way of building a newscast. Maybe she hoped we’d be a new generation of broadcasters who would shy away from sensationalism and entertainment news. But if the extremity of this Superbowl coverage is any indication, she not only failed, she failed miserably. Here in Boston, sports coverage is king, and the reign is getting stronger with every championship (and we, the loyal subjects, don’t seem to mind!)
So maybe I’ll just stay bitter for another ten years. Maybe if I hadn’t been discouraged by such a poor grade, I’d be a radio journalist today. Probably not, but it’s fun to blame someone else.