Hack

Wilson: Hack recalls stories that drew him to sports journalism

I was never an athlete — I think most sports writers would admit to that — but unlike most others of my kind, I also wasn’t always the biggest sports fan.

In reality, when I was very young, I just wanted to be a writer. Probably write some books. You know, try to make a living with words, somehow.

There’s no reason I should want to be a writer — no one person in particular inspired me to start doing this and there’s obviously not a whole bunch of money to be made.

Actually, let’s back up one second. There wasn’t one person, but probably one thing.

Growing up outside of Washington, D.C., The Washington Post was a staple of my morning routine since I was in elementary school. I wasn’t a hoops junkie or anything yet, but I was a reader and I wasn’t going to read the news, style or business sections. Sports made more sense. I learned to love sports just as much because of what I read as what I saw.

Of course rooting for teams was fun — even when I realized that there was no chance the Eagles or Nationals would ever win a title — but the stories were fun.

And that’s why this year’s Syracuse season, in all of its beautiful imperfection, was perfect.

How many years do you get to say you saw one of the best shots in SU history, Jim Boeheim’s only ejection and a 25-0 start? Every time you looked up, there was some new story seemingly more unbelievable than the last.

In the middle of it all, I had a chance to go back to where it all started for myself. The Orange’s trip to Maryland will probably just be remembered as a throwaway road game in a wild, wild season, but that was where I grew up and fell in love with basketball. 

The 2002 Terrapins were the only championship team I ever rooted for. My family has had tickets since the Comcast Center opened. I know C.J. Fair enjoyed playing in front of his friends and family, and I like to think I felt at least a little bit the same.

For the first time, my childhood and my future totally collided. UMD made me love college basketball — the greatest game — and now I was in College Park getting to watch it, and of course write about it, as a job.

But suddenly, on March 22, I looked up and it was all over. Dayton stunned Syracuse. My time at The Daily Orange didn’t end on that night, but it felt like it did. 

I never viewed myself a Syracuse fan, but it was sad to see that team’s run — and, more selfishly, my own run — end in Buffalo. It was like the end of a good book that you never want to stop reading.

This summer, I’ll be back at home. I’ll be in Maryland for as long of a stretch of time as I’ve had in years. And every morning, when I sit down at the kitchen table, The Washington Post will be sitting right there. For some reason my parents still subscribe — I like to think it’s because I’m a newspaper guy. 

Actually, come to think of it, maybe it’s not about the paper where the story was told, but the ones who made sure I was getting to take them all in.

David Wilson was a staff writer at The Daily Orange where his column will no longer appear. He can be reached at dbwilson@syr.edu or on Twitter at @DBWilson2.

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