I’ve always loved sports.
I played several of them as a kid, watch them on a regular basis and at times growing up, they were my biggest concern.
For the first five-plus years out of college, they surrounded my job titles in radio.
When I took my job in Oklahoma, on top of doing news, I was doing a lot of high school sports.
I co-hosted a one hour show on the weekdays, called football, basketball, baseball and softball games, hosted a coaches show and of course, did a lot of interviews with people from Oklahoma head football coach Lincoln Riley to coaches from small towns like Shattuck and Laverne that boasted 8-man football powerhouses.
I worked 12-hour days. Days with basketball and football games meant 16-18 hour days and half of them required me to drive at least an hour and as far as four hours for games in which I’d turn right back around and nearly fall asleep at the wheel on some state road in a remote area.
To be honest, the hours never got to me. I liked following the local schools, getting out of the studio and getting a few hours of peace while driving to the events.
My current job in Cincinnati has me invested more in news with sports sprinkled in, but it did require a big step back from being court-side or in the booth calling events, which I love and still want to do in the future. It also brings a more standard 8-hour shift, 40 hours a week schedule while making a little more money.
For me, it meant less time in the newsroom and more time for other things. Time I really didn’t have before. I could be more than just a “sports guy”.
When I lived out west, I took advantage of downtime and escaped to Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Kansas City, Denver and other places on certain weekends, especially in the summer, but being in your late 20s in a rural town puts you at a disadvantage. It’s a “it’s not them, it’s me” thing. My works hours and being from Pennsylvania meant I never got the chance to really develop friendships. I met some great people, but never really connected on a deeper level.
Living five minutes from downtown Cincinnati, a more urban setting and more free time has given me an opportunity to meet others like me: Single, late 20s/early 30s and focused on career while also maintaining a social life and developing relationships, which is tougher the older you get.
Since getting here in November, my time watching sports has gone down, but I’m still a college football junkie on Saturdays, a Steelers and NFL Redzone viewer on Sundays and watched as many Stanley Cup games as humanely possible this spring.
But I find myself getting out more than I did while living in rural Oklahoma, going to different festivals, concerts, and more events you’d find in a city setting. I initially missed the brewery boom but now live a five minute walk away from one. Most bars where I used to live would close before midnight on Saturdays.
It’s also given me a chance to work on myself.
When you’re working long hours, you sometimes forget to take care of yourself physically and mentally.
After settling in, I decided to change my workout routine. I’m lifting regularly (something I haven’t done since high school), I ran a 4-mile race in late June and want to do more races in the future.
Being around more people who can relate to the ups and downs of being a young adult and even those who are older that provide a positive attitude and guidance has done well for me socially and mentally. I’ve always considered myself an introvert with anxiety at times that some close to me can sense. I have found a more extroverted side lately, but I still have those insecurities that have followed me since I was a kid.
The step away from sports has also given me time to explore different hobbies and ideas. Starting this blog is a great example of that. My coworkers have shown me you can follow a passion outside of work or even within a current role.
It will be strange not having a game to prepare for in a couple weeks and that first Friday I’m not at the field will make me miss it. I played football. The first fall I wasn’t playing was surreal but eventually faded.
I haven’t said goodbye to sports in my work. I’m just working on another aspect of my radio career…and myself.