Kaitlynn Riely | Wednesday, January 14, 2009
I no longer have to take Jerome Holtzman’s word for it. There is, in fact, no cheering in the press box.
For the past three and a half years, I’ve written for the news department and I’ve been content. My aspirations are more toward Bob Woodward and not as much toward Red Smith or Grantland Rice.
But for a few hours on Christmas Eve, I was nearly a sports reporter.
And although the Notre Dame Fighting Irish defeated the University of Hawaii Warriors 49-21 in the last game I will ever see as an undergraduate, I did not cheer, clap or shout while I was in the Aloha Stadium press box.
I may have smiled.
Prior to Christmas Eve, the closest I’d ever come to covering a sporting event was writing a story about the new water ski club.
But The Observer sent me to Hawaii for the Sheridan Bowl to write an article about students who attended the game and I found myself sitting a few seats down from the stadium announcer and within viewing distance of Charlie Weis in the Notre Dame coaches’ box.
My family sent me text messages asking me to take a picture of Charlie with my phone. I refrained, even though No Taking Pictures with a Camera Phone in the Press Box is a book that has not yet been written.
We arrived at the stadium just moments before kickoff, due to a faulty GPS system that, at one point in the trip, directed one of my colleagues onto a military base.
When we walked into the press box, everyone else was already seated, notepads and computers at the ready.
My two Observer colleagues, both veteran Notre Dame football reporters, took their designated seats at the front of the press box. I was given a seat in the second row, right behind them. They took out their laptops and opened up their Word documents and Excel spreadsheets and began entering drive yardage and pass completion data.
The reporter sitting next to me, whose name setting indicated he worked for a local Hawaiian paper, had his laptop open. He had already written the lede of his story, leaving blanks for the final score.
After every drive, he made notations in his notebook to track the progress of the game.
Up and down the rows, the men of the bowl game press corps were quietly watching and recording.
And there I was, sitting among them, just watching. I took out a notebook so I would be less conspicuous and started writing down some questions I’d ask of fans later.
That took about five minutes.
But I couldn’t just sit there and watch while everyone else was obviously working. I’m sure no one was assuming I had an extraordinary game play memory.
I made a note each time Notre Dame scored. And again when Hawaii scored. I made a note about the Hawaiian shirts the coaches and managers were wearing.
It wasn’t great sports reporting, but at least I didn’t cheer.