Thursday, September 26, 2013

Happy Anniversary

TigerBlog's week at work has included things like doing PA at a football game, taking head shots of freshman lacrosse players, resolving issues related to shooting video at games, writing about Princeton sports, writing, writing, writing.

There was a meeting at the Center For Jewish Life, where the subject involved Princeton's Jewish athletes.

There were other meetings. Discussions about Academic Athletic Fellows. Videostreaming. Upcoming games. The atmosphere at football game days.

You know, the usual stuff that comes in athletic communications.

Ah, how different it all might have been had TigerBlog said "no" instead of "yes" to Jack McCaffery 30 years ago this week.

TigerBlog wrote this three years ago, when he saw that Pennington was playing at Academy of the New Church in football. It took him back to his first assignment in the newspaper business, which was that very same high school football game.

Jack is the older brother of Fran McCaffery, now the head basketball coach at the University of Iowa. Back then, Fran was a grad assistant at Penn, and TB was his co-worker in the psychology department basement, spending hours making copies of reading assignments on a copy machine that couldn't collate.

It was through Fran that TB met Jack, and it was Jack who offered TB a job at the Trenton Times covering high school football. His first game was Pennington at ANC.

It was 30 years ago this week. To be exact, it was Sept. 23, 1983.

Thirty years. Come and gone. It makes TB think like Red in "Shawshank," except TB has enjoyed almost every minute of it.

TB will never forget the first time he picked up the newspaper and saw his byline. It's hard to believe that was 30 years ago.

He had the newspaper in a political science class. He was a history major at Penn, and his career goal coming in had been to go to law school.

To say he got sidetracked is an understatement.

He forgot all about his 30th anniversary in this business, or at least in Part 1 of this business, which was his time in the newspaper business, until he saw that it was the anniversary of when Steve Carlton won his 300th game. That was the lead story in the sports section that day.

TigerBlog remembers the second football game he covered was the day after Pennington-ANC was Bordentown vs. Maple Shade. The following week was Hun vs. George and then Council Rock vs. Abington.

He can't remember the order after that.

Now, 30 years later, he wonders how many games he has gone to because it was his job to do so. The answer has to be thousands of them.

High school games. Summer league games. And then college games. Lots and lots of college games, almost all of them Princeton games.

He contrasts this with how his life might otherwise have gone, had he said "cover high school games for a newspaper? Thanks, Jack, but no thanks."

What in the world would he have ended up doing?

Law school? Maybe. Maybe not. TB was never a great student or, more specifically, a great studier. Maybe he would have figured out a way through law school, and then where would he be now?

And if he hadn't gone down that path, then what?

Would he have found his way into athletics in some capacity? Would he not ever have known that such careers existed?

He is willing to guess that he wouldn't have had nearly as enjoyable a career. What was he going to do, get up every morning, put on a suit and head into the business world?

He actually tried that for a few months, and it was a disaster. He ran as fast as he could to get back to the newspaper.

And so now it's been 30 years of memories, most of it on this campus. Thirty years going to all kinds of games - many forgettable and some among the greatest games ever played in their sports.

Still, it's been 30 years of having a game to look forward to, another one after that, another one down the road. He's been fortunate to be here at Princeton, where so many of those games ended up as wins, rather than losses.

And then there are the people. The best part of the last 30 years has been the people TB has had the chance to meet and get to know. Athletes. Coaches. Administrators. Writers. Editors.

Some of them have become the best friends he's ever had.

He's had so many great opportunities and experiences these past 30 years. He's traveled throughout this country and out of this country, all because there was a game to cover waiting for him to get there.

Maybe he could have been richer had he gone down another path. Maybe everything would have been different for him, but he'll never know.

These past 30 years?

He wouldn't change them for anything.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Maybe [TigerBlog] could have been richer had he gone down another path."

TB, you *are* rich. Ask any of the poor souls who actually did go to law school.