The Final Sports Kid Column


Bobby Wagner, Managing Editor

You can probably imagine there isn’t a whole lot of breaking news at the Washington Square News sports desk. If you’re the sports editor of this publication, you’re almost definitely awake writing a fencing recap at 11:15 p.m. on a Monday night. But if you were to drift off, you can pretty safely bet that you won’t have missed anything crazy — no athletes declaring for the NBA draft, no storming the field in jubilance after a big upset. It’s only you, your computer and whatever the hell an epee is.

Once, during my two-semester tenure editing this very sports section, I got the chance to break news. The hockey team — the only team that will garner an, “Oh, I heard those games were fun,” instead of an, “Oh, that’s cute that we have one of those” from the average student — was piquing interest of a Division III athletic conference. Currently, it plays as a Division II club team, set to move up to Division I next season. All this is inconsequential, really. Students don’t really give a damn about most DIII teams we have already. Adding hockey to the ranks would have been cool for people who were already plugged in, but it’s not like NYU Student A would have changed their drunk brunch plans with NYU Student B just to hit Chelsea Piers on a Sunday afternoon.

I don’t regret getting as excited as I did about covering that story. For one, I was a freshman — I try not to stomp on the ambitions of my youth. Seeing my name in the paper was still occasion for a text to my mom. But mostly I don’t regret my excitement because it felt like all the times I combed the weird world of DIII wrestling websites to look for NYU scores had been, like, a miniscule shred of being worth it. For once, it didn’t feel like going back to an empty well.

I swear I woke up in the midst of a lowkey fever dream that week thinking that NYU sports was going DI. This, of course, is not going to happen in my time as a Violet. I wrote 1,200 words about why not, a cross-section of why NYU has all but ditched its tradition of sports — which is hard to imagine ever existed. Christopher Bledsoe, our athletic director, told me flat out that NYU wasn’t looking to make the jump to DI. Why would they? Try as you might, you can’t pretend to imagine yourself tailgating for an NYU team unironically. Making sports a punchline is part of a long list of comfortable quips we use to seem cooler than this university.

My time as sports editor wasn’t spent covering coaches who made millions of dollars. I didn’t get 30-minute exclusives with golden boy quarterbacks who were destined to make millions in the NFL. I didn’t live tweet the big game from our Twitter account.

Nope, instead I covered hockey head coach Chris Cosentino — the human quote machine who made NYU hockey seem like a lesson in life and love. I got unlimited time with a dozen athletes next to the dog park in Washington Square Park and asked them about why they thought NYU students didn’t show up to their games. When we were done, we grabbed coffee and they told me about how hard it was to adjust to New York City. I explained to my top editors why “big men” was a phrase in basketball and not just me editorializing about the muscularity of dudes on the basketball team.

NYU sports may not have the sheen of multi-million dollar stadiums and TV contracts, but to write them off as trivial is to undermine the unique voices of so many athletes who are doing things beyond imagination while also practicing at the ungodly hour of 5 a.m. It’s these voices that have made being WSN’s resident Sports Kid — a title I got by default — wholly worth it, and they’re why I wouldn’t trade a single 11:15 p.m. game recap for anything.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Dec. 5 print edition. Email Bobby Wagner at [email protected].