June 20, 2024

Not a typical sports journalist; more than that

The Pressbox

We all use stereotypes. We make natural assumptions.

We do it concerning athletes. We do it concerning sports journalists.

After covering my first Kansas City Chiefs game as a photographer, I went back to my parents’ home for dinner and told them they brought me up wrong. Of course, the expression on Mom and Dad’s faces were of disbelief of what they just heard.

“You taught me to be polite, to say excuse me and be aware of others as I moved around, so I didn’t get in people’s way. That’s not how it is on the sidelines of a football game,” I said. My parents laughed as I told them of my experience.

I am not your typical sports journalist. I’m not your typical journalist. I don’t drink coffee nor do I hang on every word spoken, tweeted, or even written by the talking heads on ESPN, Fox Sports or any other sports publication. I don’t know all the statistics of every player and team — not even local ones. I have to look things up.

I disappointed those in the Daily News newsroom this week when I declined to be a part of a NCAA men’s basketball bracket pool. No, I’m not anti-social. I’m just not that into basketball. I have my own type of March Madness.

I’m not immersed in sports 24-7. Sometimes it feels like I am because I work as a community journalist on a small daily. Local sports drive my job. Those are the stories I’m most interested in.

Hey, I admit to being a football junkie. I’ll watch almost any team play at the college or professional level. I love Kansas State athletics. I love the Kansas City Chiefs and Kansas City Royals. I follow those teams.

Though much of my life revolves around sports, it is not the be-all and end-all of my existence. Nor is it for athletes.

A couple of weeks ago Newton High had its spring musical “Hello Dolly.” Reading the list of students involved on stage, backstage and in the pit orchestra, there were many of Newton’s student-athletes involved. Over the 30-plus years, I’ve worked in journalism, I’ve noticed a lot of the top students in high schools are athletes or other students who are active in music, art, drama or other extra-curricular activities.

I’m not single-minded. I grew up loving music — played the trumpet until five years ago. Still love music. I love reading books, actual books you hold in your hand and turn pages. There’s nothing like cracking open a new hardback novel — I have a new James Patterson mystery, which I just began to read this week, given to me at Christmas by my nephew.

There are times we all need to decompress. Sitting on the couch with popcorn watching black and white movies is a way I can do that.

Former New York Yankee slugger Bernie Williams is a classically trained guitarist. The late Wayman Tisdale, former start for Oklahoma and the NBA, was a very good jazz bassist.

Hey, you can come and talk sports with me anytime. I love that. We can also talk music, literature, art, drama or about family. Bragging about my niece and nephews is something I do really well.

We just can’t pigeon-hole people by the job they do or even by the one sport they do the best. I know a lot of people who really get caught up in March Madness. That’s their cup of tea.

Me, you might find me sipping a cup of tea sitting in a chair on my balcony enjoy a warm spring day.

Contact Jocelyn Sheets at
641-792-3121 ext. 6535
or jsheets@newtondailynews.com