Creating Stories vs. Reporting Them: A Career Crossroads

By: D.J. Podgorny, @DJPodgorny

Growing up, I always had a fascination with sports as a profession. Each night, I would watch SportsCenter from beginning to end — sometimes multiple times — to get my daily fix on the sporting world. Creating a career around the games I spent so much of my time watching seemed like a no-brainer.

This drive and respect for the likes of Stuart Scott and Scott Van Pelt led me to the position of Sports Editor for my high school newspaper. I spent the next three years reporting on the happenings within my local conference, doing my best to emulate the legendary insiders I followed so religiously. While it was a great learning experience, I ultimately realized sports journalism was not my calling.

I couldn’t pinpoint exactly why I was deterred, but there seemed to be something preventing me from going all in. I enjoyed certain parts of the journalistic process, yet wasn’t in love with most of it. Alas, my confusion led me towards the safe path: an engineering degree.

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Fast forward to last weekend. Thanks to my work with The Growth of a Game, I was able to obtain a press pass for the NFL International Series in London. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the Indianapolis Colts and the Jacksonville Jaguars square off in Wembley Stadium.

The weekend was a dream come true for an NFL super fan. I was able to see the team’s practices, press conferences, and game from an insider’s point of view. I was fortunate enough to shake hands with some of the best sports reporters in the game today and ask Pro Bowl players questions about their international experience.

As you can imagine, it was like heaven for an aspiring sports journalist. And, don’t get me wrong, it was an amazing experience I will eternally be grateful for.

But the same uneasiness crept back into my mind about being a member of the press. While I loved being closer to the final product, I still had no influence on the outcome of Sunday’s contest.

I realized I wanted to be creating the stories, not reporting them.

Growing up, I never thought I could become a member of the front office of an organization, unless I was also a professional player. Most of those positions seemed to be filled by ex-players.

I was under a false pretense that if I wanted to have a career in sports, I would have to become a reporter. Today, now that I am more educated on the various paths to becoming a GM or President of an NFL team, I have fully realized that sports journalism is not the correct path for me.

When I reflect on my passion for competition, building communities, and leading change, it is now evident why I never gravitated towards sports writing. Journalism has a tremendous amount of perks and rich experiences, but it seldom affords opportunities in the aforementioned areas.

This experience abroad provided appropriate and useful context that has solidified my interests. I realized there are really only two types of jobs in the sports world: making the stories and reporting them.

Which are you most passionate about? Please comment below and share your story.