Sports Journalism Institute

Helping women and minorities get into newsrooms since 1993

“Sports Check” can be a hard pill to swallow

There’s this meme on social media:

Recently, I’ve had to swallow a few of these pills for one reason: I’m not as knowledgeable in sports topics as I thought I was.

Since the start of SJI boot camp I have become aware that I have dug myself into a hole—a football hole. If there’s something that I know, it’s football. But SJI is not all about football.

Aaron Riess, SJI Class of 2016 and current Mizzou beat reporter for the Kansas City Star, described his time as an SJI student the best. “The thing that was really cool was that it was kind of humbling and a reality check,” Reiss said.

Riess was speaking specifically about sports checks, which test our knowledge of not just sports but also general news and economic topics. Coming in, I thought of myself as pretty knowledgeable about current events, but these sports checks have made me realize that what I think is enough is not even the bare minimum.

Doug Pils, my advisor at The Battalion at Texas A&M, gave me with some words of wisdom before I left College Station for the summer: “Angel, go in not knowing anything.” He meant that in the sense of having an open mind and not being so stuck to what I’ve been conditioned to do.

When I’m in the middle of a sports check, I think that Mr. Pils’ words were a lot more literal than they were meant to be. But after hearing Riess relate his experience, I felt relieved that I was not the first, or the last, to feel like a fraud when turning in a sports check. Now my goal is to stop stressing so much about the tests, because as Reiss said, if we stress too much about sports checks we won’t enjoy our overall experience.

–Angel Franco