A Fan in the Press Box


While I’m away in Europe with Mrs. Madness taking our long-awaited vacation, I thought it would be a great time to post a piece I’ve been working on a piece called “A Fan in the Press Box.”

As most of you know, due to our content sharing relationship with the Yahoo/Rivals.com Huskies website UDubSports.com, I was able to arrange to spend the season as a fully-credentialed member of the media covering Husky basketball.

I certainly wouldn’t say that I’ve got the process down to a science yet, but I thought it would be fun to share what the experience is like on the day of a home game.

After entering Hec Ed, first thing I do is head into the press box, find my spot for the night, and start up my laptop.

Not sure if this is something you can see from the other side of the stadium, but there are really two press boxes, separated by the entrance to sections 7 and 8. The UDubSports.com spot is on the section 7 side with the all of the guys from Dawgman.com and RealDawg.com, Jim from Husky Digest, visiting writers from out-of-town papers, and media who aren’t at every game, like Seattle Weekly or Slam Magazine. The section eight side of the press box is for TV, and (I assume) some of the guys I know are in attendance, but never notice until after the game, like Percy Allen from the Times, Don Ruiz from The News Tribune.

20 minutes before tip-off: Once I’ve got my seat, and the computer is grinding away to get started up, I head down to the press room to pick up the printouts of game notes from each team.

There’s really no interaction with the players or coaches right before a game (at least not for me). Sure, the guys are around — stretching, shooting and getting ready — but they have a job to do in those moments, and speaking to me isn’t going to help them do it.

5 minutes before tip-off: I’m in my seat, just like everyone else in the stadium, awaiting the announcements and introductions.

Game Time: One of the most difficult parts of the whole process for me has been learning how to cheer silently. It’s a big no-no to cheer in the press box. In fact, some of the cheerleaders take the press overflow spots at times (they rotate and not everyone cheers at every game), and even they don’t cheer. All that doesn’t mean staying completely silent — there’s lots of chatter about the game between the guys covering the game — but there’s definitely no visible rooting allowed.

During breaks in the action, I’ll start putting together how I want to write certain things and, hopefully, have a good head start on my post-game writing even before the game is done.

10 minutes after the final buzzer: When the game ends, I head to the small room where the press conference takes place. The sports information folks really go out of their way to make covering the team run as smoothly as possible. One great thing they do is to hand out stat sheets in the room to both the media members and the players who come in to answer questions. Often, the players will reference the stat sheet when answering a question.

There are usually two or three interview sessions after a game. Coach Romar comes in after every game, as does Quincy Pondexter. Isaiah Thomas has come out with Quincy most of the time as well.

Quincy is the most candid of all of the players, and doesn’t shy from the tough questions. In one-on-one interactions and the press room, I’ve been super-impressed by Q-Pon. He carries himself like a guy older than 21, and as I’ve written before really owns the title of “leader” on this team.

Isaiah is a pretty funny guy, if not as insightful in his post-game comments. But, like Quincy, Isaiah’s never bristled when he gets a tough question. When he’s had a bad shooting night, he’s faced it head on, and admitted that he needed to get things worked out.

In the press room, you never see the fiery Romar who sometimes shows up on the sidelines. His words are measured, relatively unemotional, and always friendly and respectful.

When Coach comes in, he usually gives a bit of a statement before taking questions. It’s almost always the “rose-colored” glasses version of whatever transpired during the game, pointing out a lot more of what he was happy about than what he wasn’t. (That said, I haven’t been in attendance at a losing effort.) Coach looks each media member in the eye as he answers them, and admits it frequently when “you’re not going to like this answer,” because he’s playing things close to the vest, or simply doesn’t have the answer you’re looking for.

After that, the writers head off to craft their post-game pieces, and the players and coaches go home.

Have other questions about what it’s like to cover the team? Hit me up in the comments section, or at MontlakeMadness@gmail.com.

Thanks for coming!