• Lillie Burke

Just being a fan again, after years of hiding it

When I walked onto the court at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kan., my senses heightened. I scanned my surroundings, looking up in the rafters and then down to the floor—which is named after basketball creator James Naismith. My spine tingled.

It was the second game I covered for the Belmont Vision and I had just driven more than 1,100 miles from Charleston, S.C., to be there. The Bruins were young. Kansas was ranked No. 1 in the country.

About halfway through the first half, Belmont was hanging close when then-sophomore Scott Saunders hit a layup and got fouled. From my seat on press row, I clenched my fist and let out a natural, “There you go!”

The Belmont media relations assistant next to me glared.

“Dude, you probably shouldn’t do that,” he said.

Oh, right. Yeah, I forgot. Cheering on press row is poor form. (Earlier this year, a writer for Sports Illustrated was fired when he erupted into cheers as Trevor Bayne pulled down the final stretch at Daytona.)

In fact, in the professional media world, any display of bias towards (or against) a team, player, or organization is strictly prohibited. So, I set out to live up to that.

Over the last two years, I’ve done my best to provide a fair, balanced look at Belmont athletics. After that night in Kansas, I got the motion down: stare at my laptop, look up, grab a Coke and candy bar from the media room, rinse and repeat.

During my junior and senior years, I never left a game with a scratchy, hoarse throat. I didn’t paint my face. I never even donned a Belmont shirt. I showed up at games, pestered coach Rick Byrd, typed up stories and pushed “publish” on the belmontvision.com site.

But I also got to travel alongside the team—watching crucial postseason games from Macon, Ga. to Tucson, Ariz. I was there when the Bruins earned their fourth NCAA tournament appearance in school history—and I was feet from the court during their disappointing exit. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

A lot of people ask me if I’m going to try to pursue a job in sports when I graduate. The short answer: No.

The longer answer is that I’ve been incredibly blessed by my experience at Belmont. I was able to see all angles—the good and bad—of being a sports reporter. But I’ve satisfied that need. It’s time to move on.

Instead, I’ve been looking into news opportunities—writing about a wide variety of topics ranging from crime to government and education. I want to cover stuff that matters to someone, anyone. I want to shine light on people and places. I want to relay stories that nobody else thought to tell.

And lastly, I just want to be a fan again.

Pierce Greenberg, Vision sports editor, is a senior journalism major.

#sportsfan

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