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Objectively biased

April 24, 2015 Athletics, Sports Columns

Column by Mallory Tucker, Staff writer

Journalism is a peculiar profession. The job of a journalist is to inform their readers, viewers or listeners of current news that is timely, significant, proximate, prominent or involves a matter of human interest. And while our duty is to disseminate news, it is also our duty to do so in an interesting, story form. Just as famous authors capture the impressions of their era through their fictional work, journalists do the same through truth. In our modern world, news can be distributed easily and immediately in 140 characters or less, yet I struggle to agree with the notion that social media and bystander journalism is the new norm of the field. Yes, they are both important factors, but they will never, in my opinion, completely replace the art of journalism.

In The Elements of Journalism, Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel said: “The purpose of journalism is not defined by technology, nor by journalists or the techniques they employ. The principles and purpose of journalism are defined by something more basic: the function news plays in the lives of people.”

Journalism, in other words, is about touching peoples’ lives.

If journalism as a whole is peculiar, which I believe it to be, sports journalism is twice as strange.

The biggest difference between newswriting and sports writing is that of the connection between athletes, coaches, fans and programs and the reporters that cover them. … Continue Reading

Taking the reigns

April 17, 2015 Athletics, Sports Columns

I’ve made it this far. It’s taken me eight months to get to this spot and it’s been a well-worth-it eight months. Allow me to introduce myself, though anyone who reads the papers might know who I am already.

I’m the new sports editor.

I’ve spent the last six months as the assistant sports editor working with Mallory Tucker as my boss. She’s taught me more about the art of conversation and importance of networking than I’ve learned in an entire semester of classes.

She’s been my mentor, colleague, editor and above all a friend.

I can say over the last eight months I’ve built more than just a network of professionals, but I’ve made friends. I’ve been to the men’s basketball OVC Championship, I’ve been to countless volleyball games and watched them raise the banner as the 2014 OVC Champions. … Continue Reading

The real MVPresident

April 10, 2015 Athletics, Sports Columns

Every team has a leader. In football, all eyes stay on the quarterback, and in basketball it’s all about the point guard. 

Coaches lead from off the field or court while teams name captains to lead during regulation play.

Seniors often lead through experience, and sometimes it’s the unspoken leaders that do the most and walk away with an MVP title. Just as every athletic team has a leader, so does every other organization in life.

In the team that is the students, faculty and staff at Murray State, we have a fearless, devoted leader in President Bob Davies.

He is our quarterback, our point guard, our experienced leader and at times he is our quiet, kind contributor.  His face is everywhere and he makes his presence known everywhere – especially at athletic events – but much of what he does goes unnoticed, as well.

Flashback to a few months ago: I’m standing outside Winslow Dining Hall. Eight inches of snow cover the ground, and classes are canceled.

It’s cold, really cold, and my friend and I are rummaging through our wallets looking for our student IDs just to swipe in and grab some pizza. … Continue Reading

An unexpected turn

April 3, 2015 Athletics, Sports Columns

The saying goes “It takes one to know one,” and if it weren’t for my recent eureka moment, I wouldn’t know what this meant.

I’ve said before that I didn’t mean to end up in sports and it was all by accident that this happened. From the time I was able to walk, I have been watching sports on TV with my grandfather and going to games with my dad to support underdog teams like the Mariners, an overall losing Major League Baseball team. I hadn’t realized that these moments would have an effect on what kind of person I am today.

During the Racers’ most recent heart-breaking loss in the National Invitation Tournament against Old Dominion, I was in The Murray State News newsroom watching the game as my editor was on the floor in Virgina. … Continue Reading

Accidentally in love

March 27, 2015 Athletics, Sports Columns

I joke about a lot of things – almost everything, in fact. I can make light of almost any situation. It’s a quality in myself that I both love and despise at the same time. Some find it endearing, others find it obnoxious, but such is my personality.

I so frequently say “my life is a joke,” that at times I start to actually believe it. Lately, though, the reality of my life is smacking me in the face.

I may be a college student, but my work as a student journalist is nothing if not full-time. I get paid on salary, (although it’s nothing to write home about) many of my travel expenses are covered and I’m absolutely never off the clock.

As long as there are student-athletes at Murray State, there is always breaking news for my section. And when a team is as successful as our basketball team has been this season, I’m constantly on the road, hunting down the most current story. … Continue Reading

Sitting on the sideline

March 12, 2015 Athletics, Sports Columns

Seven seconds left on the clock, Racers are up by two points, Belmont has the ball and a 3-pointer is made. Racer fans are silent; Steve Prohm hangs his head and Jarvis Williams’ jaw drops in shock.

You know the Racers lost the OVC Championship, but did they really? Just because I believe they deserve a bid doesn’t mean the statistics add up and they’ll get one.

As a reporter sitting on press row, we have to be unbiased. As a Racer fan sitting on press row we want to scream, shout and throw a fit.

The Racers are ranked 71 on the BPI with a 68.2 percent below average score; which is the basketball power index.

Looking at the bubble, we’re not in the last four byes, the last four in, and not even in the first four out; the Racers are in the next four out ranks below Illinois State and above Iona College.

There are players on the team that are in the top 10 for number of free throws made, players with a shooting average that puts them on the lookout for NBA scouts and almost half of the team has received an award or honor of some kind throughout this season.

The Racers succeeded in having the second longest win streak in the country, broke records, made unbelievable shots and have seen numerous NBA scouts sit in on their games.

Justin Seymour tweeted about his thoughts and I agree—you shouldn’t let one game define your season. They lost on a fade away 3-pointer by Belmont. Just because there is one loss doesn’t mean you let it define your whole perception of the team.

Though I sat on the sidelines and clenched my fist waiting for the final three-second shot, I’m not sure the NCAA will see all the work I’ve seen this season.

The NCAA only allows 68 spots on the bracket, and most of those spots are taken by conference champions and big major schools. We are a mid-major school that doesn’t get the option to play schools like the University of Kentucky, Duke, Michigan State or the University of Louisville.

It just doesn’t happen and we can’t compare ourselves to how we would match up, if we can’t play them.

Selection Sunday comes with angst for both players and fans alike. We’ll all watch around the TV or computer screen hoping our beloved Racers receive a bid to the NCAA.

Either way our start of Spring Break this year will be the start of a postseason tournament. My hope is that the Racers graciously accept a bid into the National Invitation Tournament. Even if we don’t receive a bid to NCAA, that doesn’t mean our momentum should stop or our Racer pride deplete.

There is no doubt the Racers have the resume to be in consideration for a bid into the NCAA Tournament; however, I can’t say I agree they will make it.

We have to weigh the idea that we could get into the NCAA Tournament and fall in the first round or we could potentially go all the way to Madison Square Garden and win the NIT.

Then again, we could win the NCAA or fall in the NIT.

The thing to remember is that we are Racers, we have pride, respect and love of our athletics and we shouldn’t let any loss bring us down.

Column by Kelsey Randolph, Assistant Sports Editor

This is a wakeup call

March 5, 2015 Athletics, Sports Columns

After months of covering Racer basketball, there are a few phrases I’ve heard nonstop. “Our league is so underrated,” “We’ve been slept on,” and “There’s a chip on our shoulder,” are a few quotes I pull from interviews weekly.

As a journalist, I get frustrated with sports rhetoric. Players and coaches tell me the same generic things other sources are telling journalists nationwide. As coaches and players, they’re frustrated for their own reason: because what they’re saying is true. When the OVC released their 2014-15 All-Conference Team, I couldn’t help but agree that this team has been slept on. And it’s time for a wakeup call.

Cameron Payne, Jarvis Williams and Head Coach Steve Prohm were all recognized by the league’s head coaches and sports information directors. To no one’s surprise, Payne was named Player of the Year. Also unsurprisingly, Williams was named a First-Team Forward and Prohm was named Coach of the Year. What is surprising is that no other Murray State players were recognized.

With a 24 game win streak, a regular season conference title and being one of only five teams in the OVC’s 67-year history to go undefeated in the conference, it’s true that the Racers have weapons. It takes a full team of starters and multiple men off the bench to accomplish what they have this year. The Racers have nine men with minutes almost every game, but only two players from the league’s No. 1 team earned all-conference honors. I’m not an expert analyst, but something doesn’t add up.

After the Racers’ final regular season game against UT Martin Feb. 28, Prohm commented on the impending all-conference awards.

“I would think between them top 10 spots we probably have four guys,” Prohm said. “We’ll probably get three, but you could make an argument for four. When you look at it, there’s a lot of good guys. I mean, Martin’s got three all-league type guys in Smith, Howard and Newell. And Belmont – Bradds, Bradshaw for sure. EKU’s Stutz, Walden. I can’t say who I voted for on the record. When you take our team out, you’re still looking at about 12, 14 guys that you’ve got to fit into 10 spots. I left two or three really good players off.

Prohm was fully aware of the tough competition for post-season awards, but of all the players he mentioned, his own were the only ones left off the list. Corey Walden and Eric Stutz represented EKU on first–team alongside Belmont’s Craig Bradshaw. UT Martin’s Marshun Newell and Deville Smith were recognized on the second-team while Twymond Howard graced the All-Newcomer list, and Belmont’s Evan Bradds made second team as well.

Payne and Williams were also the only Racers on all-conference teams last year. Named to first and second team, respectively, Payne was also Freshman of the Year and an All-Newcomer.  With a 23-11 season and no conference titles, it was understandable. But this season, it seems a little absurd.

Twitter was rampant with complaints immediately after the OVC sent out their press release Wednesday. The majority were lighthearted, but there were evident bitter undertones.

It’s not my job to support the teams I cover. I would never let personal opinions show in my stories or affect my job in any way. But when I’m off the clock, as a columnist, a Murray State student and admittedly, a fan, it’s difficult to overlook some things. Despite the controversy, I’m sure of one thing. The Racers are coming out to play in an “underrated league” with “a chip on their shoulders” because they’ve been “slept on” too long.

 

Column by Mallory Tucker, Sports Editor

Mind over matter

February 27, 2015 Athletics, Sports Columns

Someone told me once that it doesn’t matter how hard you fall; if you want to, you’ll get back up.

Imagine this— there’s five seconds left on the clock, your basketball team is trailing by three points and it’s your possession. Your shoulder starts to buzz and you can feel it in your neck, your ear and all the way down your arm. Do you stop and sit out or push through and make the shot that could potentially make a historic win for your team?

From the sidelines I see athletes of all background get thrown, pushed, shoved and elbowed on a regular basis. Not because they want to, but merely because that’s the game.

Recently I saw a video on my Facebook timeline about a girl who ran on her high school track team with multiple sclerosis. In Kayla Montgomery’s case, the M.S. blocks the nerve signals from her legs to her brain. As her body temperature rises she begins to lose feeling starting in her toes and by the end of the race she has no feeling at all.

Her dedicated coach stands at the finish line every race and stretches his arms as she collapses because she can’t physically stop herself.

The New York Times wrote an article about Montgomery’s journey as a member of the track team at Mount Tabor High School in North Carolina. As a senior who graduated in May 2014, she has won the North Carolina state title in the 3200-meter race with a time of 10 minutes 43 seconds, which ranked her 21st in the country.

Montgomery continuously pushed through pain to do something she loved and still does. According to The New York Times, Montgomery was in disbelief about colleges being open to her running with M.S. because she didn’t think colleges would be able to adapt to her special circumstance. Montgomery’s search was over in early March 2014 when Lipscomb University asked her to sign a cross-country and track and field scholarship contract with them.

USA TODAY did a research article on sports injuries in young people in 2013. Emergency room reports in 2012 show that the most common injury was a strain or sprain, tallying at 451,480 people and the next highest injury being a fracture at 249,500 people. The top sports to cause injuries are football, basketball and soccer and in the bottom three are cheerleading, gymnastics and track and field.

Athletes have to deal with pain during practices and competitions. As a reporter I hear every day that “practice makes perfect.” Athletes are pushed to do their best, and if they didn’t want to do their best, they wouldn’t be doing what they do.

I competed on a nationally ranked all-star dance team for four years and before that, danced recreationally on a team for 10 years. I’ve had rolled ankles, broken bones and sprained wrists one too many times. I never thought any of those minor things would end my career. My dancing was cut short after I had back surgery from a birth defect in my spinal cord. I didn’t have a choice. My dancing career was over.

I didn’t think much about how all my injuries could affect me when I’m older.

Athletes deal with pain and injuries everyday, but they don’t let it stop them. Montgomery proved that what other people called an issue wasn’t an issue for her at all. Athletes prove they can push through pain and put their mind over the matter.

Column by Kelsey Randolph, Assistant Sports Editor

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