What a year.
When my editors asked me if I wanted to write one final sports column, I immediately agreed, even though I didn’t know what I was going to write about. Or whether I wanted to write at all.
At the beginning of the year, before I had ever written a column, I had already thought about what I would write for my last piece. I imagined that it would be the capstone of my short-lived collegiate sportswriting career — my senior thesis of sorts. I thought it would offer some profound, deep insight about sports specifically and life in general. I viewed myself as a budding Rick Reilly or Bill Simmons — someone who could write about sports intelligently while also appealing to the non–sports fan — and I thought the last column would drive the point home.
But now, I’ve realized there’s nothing that I could write about that would be any different from my previous columns. I’ve tried to straddle the line between serious and humorous, between sports and non-sports, between Yale and non-Yale. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes it didn’t.
But at the end of the day, I always knew that I wasn’t nearly talented enough to make sports journalism into a career. Despite that sobering realization, I still believe that writing this column has been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had at Yale.
For example: I wrote a column after my 21st birthday complaining about how painful it is to have to abandon your childhood dreams, and I had one of my friends come up to me and tell me that my column reflected her feelings perfectly. And this friend was probably the furthest from a sports fan you could get — in fact, I bet that she could name more shoe brands than professional athletes.
I also had a varsity athlete who I wrote about — but who I had never met before — tell me that her mother had pinned one of my columns on the refrigerator. And after my column about my family’s annual Cowboys game reunion, I got five e-mails from family friends thanking me for chronicling the tradition.
And the coolest by-product of the columns: A recruiting rep at ESPN sent me an e-mail wondering if I would be interested in an internship at the Worldwide Leader in Sports.
But before I get accused of being self-aggrandizing, I want to acknowledge the best part of this bi-weekly ritual: the criticism. One of my columns was so absurd that my editors refused to print it. None of my columns ever made the “most popular” section of the News’ Web site. No one ever noticed the weeks when my column didn’t run. Sometimes even my best friends would ask what day my columns came out, even though it had been the same day for the entire year.
In fact, I think one of the comments on the News’ Web site summarized my columns best. Wrote “real sports fan” on Oct. 22: “FAIL.”
Although my column didn’t quite catapult me to local prominence, it gave me the chance to learn more about sports, about Yale, and — most importantly — about myself.
So, thanks. Thank you to the News for the forum, to my editors for the encouragement, to the loyal fans who read every column (all two of them), and to all the people who sometimes took a few minutes out of their day to read what I had to say.
It’s been a great ride, and I can’t believe it’s already over.
Karan Arakotaram is a junior in Ezra Stiles College.