Sports Journalism Institute

Helping women and minorities get into newsrooms since 1993

Good to be versatile

Throughout my entire college career, I didn’t know what I wanted to do.

To some degree, I still don’t. My interests are diverse and many. On one day, I picture myself as an NFL or NBA beat writer, publishing game stories and long-form profiles for Sports Illustrated. On another, I imagine myself working with underprivileged youth as a social worker, serving as an executive director of a nonprofit organization or diagnosing and treating individuals with mental illnesses as a clinical psychologist.

For years, I avoided the dreaded “So what are you doing after graduation?” question everywhere I went. How do could I possibly choose between careers that I found equally as interesting and important?

During Tuesday’s Skype session with sociologist Scott Brooks, I found my answer.

I don’t.

Brooks, an associate professor at Arizona State and author of “Black Men Can’t Shoot,” spoke to the 26th class about the integral role race and gender played in sports journalism. He also spoke about the responsibility journalists have to be at the forefront of such conversations and shed light on the truth and injustices around them.

With a background in psychology and social work, and as a religious minority in this country, I have the chance to pursue all of those interests as a journalist.

And I can do it in a way that no one else can.

“When you think of your own unique personality, think about what stories you can tell from your unique position,” Brooks advised the class. “Use your positions of marginality, and think about what the purpose of your story is.”

ESPN senior writer and studio analyst Heather Dinich also made me realize my multiple interests could work to my advantage.

“The more versatile you are, the more valuable you’ll be as you go in your journalism careers,” Dinich said.

The industry is constantly changing. And who knows––maybe one day, I’ll find the perfect way to combine psychology, nonprofit management and journalism and not have to choose.

Maybe one day, I can do all three.

— Alaa Abdeldaiem