Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Road Taken

TigerBlog has been giving some thought to his newspaper days lately.

He was 20 or so when he wrote his first story. Back then, he was a quasi-pre-law student who happened to stumble into covering high school football. After that first game - Academy of the New Church at Pennington, he remembers - his career as a lawyer was gone forever.

In all TB would spend more than 10 years as a sportswriter before coming to Princeton.

TB wrote about high schools for the first half of his time in the business and colleges for the rest. He remembers some games, some names, some stories he wrote.

Mostly what he remembers is what a great time it was to be a sportswriter.

Newspapers were big then. Everyone read a newspaper. Picked one up. Turned the pages. Separated out the sections.

These days? Everything is online. It's the way the world has evolved. TB gets it.

He'd like to say he had the foresight to anticipate what would happen to his profession and got out at the right time, but that's hardly the case. The opportunity to work at Princeton came up, and it was just too good to pass up.

There have been times when TB has wondered what would have happened to his career path had he not left the newspaper business. He's sure most people go through that, wondering what might have been different had the other path been taken when a major opportunity forced a decision.

The fact that he left when he did doesn't change what a great experience it was for him. Hey, when you're in your 20s, what could be better than having a job where you can sleep all morning, cover games, write stories, hang out in the newsroom, put a newspaper together, eat dinner at midnight, repeat the next day.

TB loved every part of the process of putting out a newspaper. He was fascinated by the composing room, where long strips of paper would come out of a machine and then be cut up and pasted onto giant boards by people who were essentially artists or in some ways surgeons, including one who was called "Doc."

He loved the satisfaction of fitting story into allotted space, of doing the same with a headline. He loved the power of the presses - the ones that actually printed the paper, which was vastly different than the power of the press.

He was convinced that each year he was in the business would be his last, that he would grow up, as it were. Each year he'd be wrong.

Yeah, what would have happened had he not left for Princeton all those years ago. Oh well. There's no way to know.

For that matter, what would have happened had he actually gone to law school and never gotten into newspapers in the first place?

TB's spring days back then were really busy. He'd often start out at Princeton crew, then go to lacrosse or baseball - more at Rider or TCNJ than Princeton for that sport. Actually, he'd often go to all three, with rowing and lacrosse at Princeton and then the end of the baseball doubleheader at one of the other schools.

This spring has been a weird one, largely because of the weather. Even now, as April is winding down, there have been only a handful of nice spring days.

The next three days are promising to bring two to five inches of rain.

Tomorrow's forecast fascinates TB, in that the high and low temperatures are both supposed to be 52. That means that for the entire 24 hours, the temperature is supposed to never change. TB doubts that will actually be the case.

Astonishingly, there are hardly any remaining home events for the 2013-14 athletic year. There are two track and field meets, some rowing and of course this weekend's Ivy League women's lacrosse tournament, which starts Friday at 4 with Penn and Harvard and then at 7 with Princeton and Cornell. The final is Sunday at noon.

Just like it did more than 30 years ago, another athletic year has come and is almost going. At some point, TB stopped trying to figure out what his next career would be and realized that he had found his calling.

Or maybe he knew it that day at Academy of the New Church.

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