A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
It’s About Reaching Out And Helping Others Come Into This Career Field
Many people who know me donï¿½t really know how I got started doing the things that I do but there are several individuals who impressed me so much when he took the time to put me under their ï¿½tutelageï¿½ that I always try to say a mental ï¿½thank youï¿½ for the opportunity. Two such individuals who come to light are Cordell Patrick and the other is Joe Chivaliar. Let me set the scene about this past experience so that you can get an understanding why those two gentlemen are germane to this op/ed. Last Friday while covering a WNBA game for Sportsticker, I got a chance to meet a former San Antonio Silver Stars player who has had an illustrious career in the league. That player was Edna Campbell. Now Iï¿½ve watched Edna play last year when she was on the team but I really didnï¿½t get to know her. Yet when speaking with the Silver Starsï¿½ play-by-play voice, Andrew Monoco, I learned that Edna wanted to get into broadcasting. Now before everyone starts blowing up my e-mails asking for job hook ups, let me say that Iï¿½m not some super scout in the business who can just get a person hired. Yet when the opportunity arose to meet Edna and possibly help her, I did go after it. All I did was give her my business card and I sent an e-mail out to her on her behalf to a couple of friends in Sacramento. I just asked for their help in helping Edna get into the business somehow.
Now that doesnï¿½t sound like much and from my standpoint it isnï¿½t. I saw a young woman who had some talent and thought it was a shame that she wasnï¿½t getting chance to do something she may truly love. Now what Edna does if she gets the opportunity is on her but I have no doubt that it will be something great. And whatï¿½s her payback to me if she gets into the broadcasting business? Simply reach out and help someone else do the same. Thatï¿½s some payback huh? Well it just so happens that itï¿½s the same payback that I promised Cordell and Joe many years ago. It was Cordell who took myself and four other young African American men and showed us the ropes of covering the Spurs in 1993. Patrick didnï¿½t have to do what he did but yet Iï¿½m forever thankful for him showing me things that have been a foundation to my coverage of the team. And the same can be for Joe. When Joe was a guest of AM1250, a station that put on a fledging sports talk network called 1-on-1 Sports (now Sporting News Radio), he came to San Antonio and I helped get him a press pass and sit on press row with me during a Spurs game. It was back then while we were in the locker room that Joe told me something that has stuck with me my whole career: make sure you interview the bench warmers like you do the superstars. It was something that became a practice for me because whenever I wanted to find out something about the team, it was these players who were willing to provide insight.
The influence that these two men had early on my career helped shape what happens today and it is what prodded me to give Edna a business card and say, ï¿½call me whenever you wantï¿½. It was the very act of being willing to share information to someone else that got me started out on the right foot and hopefully it will be that same kindness that helps her in her endeavors. But more importantly it is something that I want to make sure I continue doing because recruiting talented individuals to this part of journalism is harder year by year; even for someone in my position.
This past week, the Urban Journalism Workshop program kicked off and the local chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists hosted a dinner at Dave and Busterï¿½s for the participants. Amongst all the faces of young students, I only saw one African American and I became troubled. I became troubled because it seems that my own ethnicity does not think this is a worthy profession. Maybe Iï¿½m trivializing this to an nth degree but I doubt it. The fact that thee are an ever decreasing amount of African Americans wanting to come into this field is very disheartening and itï¿½s even worse when very few want to tackle the genre that Iï¿½m in. Thatï¿½s one of the reasons why I not only wanted to help Edna where I could, but that I wanted to make sure that she knew I appreciated her wanting to even come into the field.
Sports journalism, in its truest form, is not getting very many young people who want to make this a career. I look around even the weekly Black newspapers and I become discouraged because no one is truly every putting in good work that makes these pages rival those of the national fish wraps. While there are some very good niche publications and websites like the BASN product, Black Sports the Magazine and 411 Sports in Dallas (shameful plug for those that I write for), there needs to be some African American sports writers who are young, energetic and want to put out the works that would make such stalwarts of the genre could be proud of. Writers like Ralph Wiley and Sam Lacy should be proud to know that before their passing, that they made a difference to the other aspiring writers of this time space continuum.
It gives me a sense of pride knowing that I can reach out and help someone like Edna Campbell because someone reached out and helped me. It makes me beam with pride that because I took the time to study some history on African Americans and sports journalism, that I try to fashion my own works into something that hopefully makes a difference. As hard as the task that it is in recruiting more African Americans into this field of journalism, I still smile when I think of what Cordell and Joe did for me many moons ago. If these two hadnï¿½t spent a small amount of time and show me things that made my life easier in this regard, I wouldnï¿½t be able to do the things that I am doing now. I wouldnï¿½t have made the contacts that I have now from the various radio networks and television networks that I am proud to say that I am a contributor of substance. It was their unselfish deeds of help early in my career that Iï¿½m thankful for and why I continue to try to reach out help someone else. Hopefully others are following suit and all of us who got a pull up by someone will continue the practice as well. Itï¿½s the only way we can continue to give two communities a perspective on what we see and hear on the playing field.
SENDING OUT WELL WISHES TO A CLOSE FRIEND Speaking of people who have been a mentor of sort, I want to send out best wishes to one of the more talented NBA writers that I know and that Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star Telegram. ï¿½D-Priceï¿½ has been in the hospital for a week or so due to a staff infection and when another colleague of ours sent me a story in which Dwain was going to miss covering the Dallas Mavericksï¿½ first NBA Finals appearance, my heart went out to him and his family.
Price is one of the guys who I look up to in covering the league and over the years we have become pretty good friends. Iï¿½ve always read his NBA Beat stories just so that I can get a feel o whatï¿½s going on but more importantly Iï¿½ve learned a few things from him as well. Hopefully Dwain will be back at his job and everything has gone okay with him. Heï¿½s a talented writer and right now the NBA family is just hoping for his speedy recovery.