One of the fun parts of being part of the Bulletin.com team is getting to delve into the different worlds of my colleagues. Two of my Bulletin Sports teammates published some powerful stuff recently, and I wanted to share a little and encourage you to check out what they are doing.
Dianna Russini is at ESPN, covering the NFL. She recently had a baby boy, Michael, and walked through some of the realities women in sports media face: how long can we take off when you are in season? Of course, in other countries, this would be a zero debate, since extended parental leaves are not only built in, but part of the culture. Not going to hammer you about how the U.S. is beyond backwards on not having more parental leave policies built in. Going back to work, mere weeks after having a child, is insane. And just stupid. But here we are.
Dianna is going back to work, to a job she loves and which she is really good. But that doesn't make it easy.
“Isn’t that incredible?”
Those are the only three words I clearly remember from the meeting.
It was years ago when I sat across from a television executive to get face time and to ask for some support on my assignments.
I kept running into the same issue that season. I couldn’t land interviews with star players. I saw other reporters getting the exclusives, but I kept getting told no. Some of it was my lack of experience, some of it my lack of relationships. My Rolodex of agents, players, and communication directors was pretty thin at the time, so looking back on it, it made sense I was running into roadblocks. I thought asking for help was the right play.
Yeah, that was pretty naïve, but my heart was in the right place. The answer I received was pretty much “figure it out yourself.” Maybe not the best answer, but I get it. What did I expect to happen? Aaron Rodgers to magically appear on the desk? Handouts in TV just don’t happen often.
But that’s not what stuck with me all these years. It was when another reporter was brought up that the conversation really shifted.
This executive wanted to make sure I understood that the great journalists before me never asked for help and did everything they had to do to be the best. I wanted to be great — so I was all ears.
The reporter mentioned is exemplary. She’s ruthless, hard-nosed. A pioneer. There weren’t many women in sports when she was reporting yet she stood out. The story goes she worked every single day of her pregnancy, refusing to miss a game, a practice, or an interview.
Listening to the tales of her commitment not only impressed me, but I connected with her desire to do the job, no matter what. I had always been obsessed with my career so this all made sense to me, as if we spoke the same language. I was told she was hospitalized at nine months and had her producer come to the room with a photographer so she could lay down tracks for a piece that was airing that weekend. That is commitment. She was hours away from labor, yet still concerned about sharing with viewers a story that could possibly change their lives. This is who I wanted to be. I was years away from even thinking about being a mother, but this was the blueprint.
“Isn’t that incredible?” ...
The second Bulletin Sports teammate who bared his soul recently is Stefano Fusaro. He's also from ESPN, but like me, has left and gone out into the big world outside of the World Wide Leader.
Stefano writes about losing a very dear friend, due to COVID, and the pain of his death. It is pretty searing. Sending love to you, Stefano, and all affected.
For ten straight years, I'd worked an NBA game on opening night. I wanted to make that happen this year, even though I wouldn't be assigned a game by my company, as I had grown accustomed to. So I planned to be at Madison Square Garden last week, for the season opener between the Knicks and the Boston Celtics. My angle, was to cover New York City native, and NBA All-Star Kemba Walker's first game as a member of his hometown Knicks.
This has been a trend among NBA Stars, choosing to go back home to play their sport. Close to the people who saw them grew up, the people who said they would never make it, and the culture that shaped them.
This got me thinking a lot about that word; Home.
In 2021, after the insanity of the last 2 years, is home still a city or place? Or is it a feeling that you create with the people around you, wherever your journey takes you?
When I was going to write this piece on Walker, I would've said, "Home is still a place. The city that shaped you is the only place one can call home."
Well, a lot happened since my original plan to cover that NBA game.
A night before the game, I received the news that a great friend of mine had passed away. He was sick with Covid, and fought in the hospital for over two months. We've been following his progress throughout that time, with plenty of ups and down. His wife, Angelica, is carrying their unborn child. Heartbreaking is an understatement.
Edward Ramcharran was someone who lit up the room, someone who always enjoyed life and made everyone feel welcome, feel like family, feel like home...