On Wednesday morning, about 100 ESPN employees received notice of their immediate termination from the Worldwide Leader in Sports.
The layoffs spanned job descriptions and tenures, from veteran television personalities to highly-respected journalists. The layoffs were not the result of lacking talent or performance but rather due to a changing industry, one that must evolve to remain profitable even if it means a dramatic reduction in stellar workers.
We at the News are fortunate to be supported by an alumni board and an institution that enables students to pursue their journalistic passions. Recent initiatives carried out by the News such as the Yale Daily News Foundation Stipend Program continue to support a mission that encourages student journalism, even in a day and age where the industry is under stress.
The ESPN reporters who received those sudden layoffs Wednesday morning were not aware that their most recent articles and columns would in fact be their final pieces of work with the Worldwide Leader.
As I scanned the Twitter accounts of those laid off, I saw no mention of the games they covered or the star athletes they interviewed. Instead, they cared about their company at those games. Few expressed bitterness; ultimately, it is difficult to be bitter about a career predicated on covering children’s games.
I’ve been lucky to cover those same games here at Yale, and unlike ESPN’s most recent layoffs, I’ve known my final piece was coming for some time. As many fellow seniors have realized in recent weeks, there is something unnerving about anything — be it Woads, discussion sections or exams — being “final” at this stage of life.
Still, there is immense value in reflecting on years past. For me, looking back at my time at Yale means looking back at my time at the News — the hours spent beside those intimidating editors that quickly became close mentors and friends, the weekends dedicated to traversing Ivy gyms and fields as a reporter, the cumulative days and weeks fully committed to 202 York as an editor and the unquantifiable time the News rested at the forefront of my mind.
I came into Yale with few goals, one of which was to write for this paper. I never really thought about what would be most validating about my experience. I simply wanted to channel my excessive energy into something that I cared about.
I spent much of my first year obsessing over fine-tuning my craft: How could I write a more compelling story? What questions would spark the most noteworthy responses? When an editor suggested I would be great as a sailing reporter — the editor in me now recognizes the tactics of flattery he was using — I jumped at the opportunity, regardless of the fact I had not known sailing was a competitive sport.
Even after freshman year, I never imagined that joining the News would result in sitting courtside at March Madness and witnessing our school’s first-ever triumph at the Big Dance, or the chance to interview Duke’s incomparable coach Mike Krzyzewski. I could have never imagined sharing a press box with the reporters I grew up reading, spending time speaking with future professional athletes or being jolted awake by phone calls from Yale coaches furious with certain articles I had run.
When athletes retire, they often cite the locker room as the part they miss most. For me, it’s the newsroom at 202.
I willingly spent 40, sometimes 50, hours a week on the second floor of the Briton Hadden Memorial Building, flicking bottle caps at makeshift targets at 3 a.m. with my co-editor-turned-best friend Greg Cameron ’17 while still purporting to be a serious Yale student during the day. I routinely rallied together carloads of editors at 4:30 a.m. to drive down Route 34 and celebrate completed papers with pastries and bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches as my parents opened up their local donut shop.
Even now, nearly a year removed from editing and currently resigned to what I like to refer to as a grandfatherly role at the News, the lasting impact the News has had on me at a human level amazes me every day.
So while this is my final piece, I recognize my News experience has hardly ended. I may no longer write in these pages, or frequent 202 York for the nightly food trade, but I will continue to live with and cherish the experiences and relationships that last long beyond commencement. Here’s to four incomparable years, one final month at Yale and many new beginnings.
James Badas is a senior in Hopper College and a former sports editor for the News. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org .