Archived Story

Cheering on the inside

Published 7:15pm Thursday, October 24, 2013

All journalists strive to remain neutral and objective.
But there are some times when I find myself getting emotionally involved in a story or issue.
For me, this has never been a problem in news. I strive for a  no-nonsense, here to be an observer approach to covering any event, be it a council meeting or a municipal election.
But the idea of not getting emotionally invested in my stories gets tested once a year – football season. Okay, so it is not like my growing fondness of local teams and players affects my coverage of a game. But many times on the sideline this year I have found myself cheering on my home team on the inside, trying not to let my fandom show.
But there are always those plays, that key catch in the end zone or a much-needed goal line stand, that cause me to occasionally lapse into the role of a football fan.  Whether it is an unintentional “YES!” uttered after a big defensive stop, or a “OH!” that slips out after the home team lays down a hard lick, sometimes I just can’t help myself. And I believe maintaining my journalistic neutrality will be my greatest challenge of the week, as I go to cover a game that doesn’t mean as much to me as to the team’s playing, but certainly has been a circle on my calendar since the season began.
I am talking about the Dadeville versus Central of Clay County game.
For the Tigers, the night will be a time for payback. Last year, the Tigers limped away from Clay-Central, licking their wounds after a 33-0 loss that wrecked the Tigers’ longest-running regular season winning streak. I was on the sideline of that game. And let me tell you, the score wasn’t the only salt on the wounds.  It was a game marked by a few questionable calls, some dangerous tackles – one of which that left one of Dadeville’s best players out for the game – and missed opportunities. Up to that game, I had covered nearly every game for the Tigers.  And it was the first Dadeville loss I have ever been on the sidelines for.
After seeing Handley get ran over by the Tigers’ last week, I think coach Richard White has gotten the sheer importance of the game in his player’s head.
I saw players making tackles with a fierceness and sense of determination that I had yet to see all season. I saw a passing game materialize, and a C.J. Tolbert that was looking more comfortable than ever in the pocket. A lot of people will be looking at this game. I will be there covering. But with every touchdown, even if I don’t outwardly show it, I will be fighting my instincts to cheer on a team that I believe is poised to make a statement to the rest of the football world.
Good luck Tigers. This will be your toughest task yet.
Nelson is managing editor of The Outlook.