There are many disadvantages of being a sports writer —long hours, crummy pay and a public uproar can ignite if there is a mistake —just to name a few.
However, the are some true advantages to becoming a sports journalist. High school games are always interesting to cover and immensely entertaining, especially during post-season play. Actually, any local sport can be enjoyable and the cost value is very reasonable.
But one of the true advantages of writing about sports is having the opportunity to attend professional venues and experiencing moments that ordinarily would be out of reach.
I am been blessed in my life as I have had the privilege of covering a Bengals game from the press box. I’ve also had the opportunity to cover Reds’ games through my media access.
One sport I had never had access too was NASCAR, which changed over this past weekend. I had been to plenty of NASCAR races, from Charlotte to Bristol, but always as a regular fan.
After attending the Toyota Owners 400 Saturday night at the Richmond International Raceway, I have even more respect for the world’s fastest sport. In fact, of the other professional sports, NASCAR stands on top.
Last year, I attended the Bengals home contest against the New England Patriots. I had access to the press box and the players locker room. Did I have the opportunity to speak with Tom Brady or Andy Dalton one on one? Of course not.
However, at the NASCAR event, while I was walking though the garage area I came upon Austin Dillon’s hauler. Dillon is the rookie driver of the No. 3 Dow Chemical Chevrolet for Richard Childless Racing.
I stood there for a few minutes and to my surprise, Dillon appeared. I was not prepared to do a media interview as I wasn’t expecting to have the opportunity to talk to him. I approached him and at no point did I make him aware of who I was and that I had media credentials.
As far as he was concerned, he was just talking to another fan, which could have been the case as the garage area was littered with fans who purchased pit passes. We spoke for about five minutes before parting ways.
The reason I felt the need to share this story is I believe that professional sports should open themselves up more fan interaction. The fans attending games, buying merchandise and watch on television is why professional sports exist. Without fans shelling out their hard earned money, professional athletes would not making millions of dollars.
As I had that encounter with Dillon, I realized that he was just a cordial person who was thankful to his fans. And I was thankful for the opportunity to have a conversation with someone that I admire. Hopefully, in the future, more athletes will realize how important their fan bases are to their team and sport.
Chris Slone can be reached at 353-3101, ext 298, or on Twitter @crslone