When there are no games for student-journalists to cover

Bobby Rondil in the press box at Bragg Memorial Stadium. Photo courtesy Rondil.

In the first half of the 2020 spring semester, it seemed as if everything was going according to plan for journalism students who are planning to work in sports post-graduation. 

Nobody knew that the coronavirus pandemic would take such a global toll on everyone and everything, including sports. Students looked forward to covering the many spring sports including football, track and field, tennis, softball and baseball. 

The pandemic has affected journalism students at Florida A&M like Bobby Rondil, a graduating senior who has aspirations to have his own show, similar to Stephen A. Smith, Colin Cowherd, or Dan Patrick. “The lack of availability of sports to media has affected me, but to stay close I make sure to dig in and find new stories,” Rondil said. “This coronavirus issue will separate the men from the boys in sports journalism because true journalists will always find something to talk about.” Rondil says he has been interviewing players and coaches via Skype to mitigate the social distancing issue.

Marissa Stubbs, a junior and the assistant sports editor for The Famuan, says that the virus has slowed down content she would’ve had covering spring sports. But she admits the show must go on. 

“I have still continued to publish content such as articles during this pandemic,” Stubbs said. “I will also be producing a newscast and a podcast from home.” 

Stubbs’ goal it to be a  sideline reporter for an NFL team and then work her way up to be a sports analyst.

 Alexis Hamilton, a senior, says that although the virus has impacted footage she would’ve turned into content to show to potential employers, she knows that covering sports and other news is what she wants to do. 

“For the most part I’ve been sticking to news because the fundamentals are what’s important,” Hamilton said. “But I’m still into sports as I follow all the major networks for any kind of updates to be able to have a dialogue about them.”

 Hamilton plans to go into making sports documentaries post-graduation.

Junior journalism student Vladimir Cadet is active in student media related to sports. He says that getting content is hard now because the virus has shut down everything sports related. 

Marissa Stubbs at a FAMU football game in Bragg Memorial Stadium. Photo courtesy Stubbs.

“I do prime time and playmakers for WANM and it’s hard to come up with content and topics to talk about,” Cadet said. “Basketball season for both NBA and NCAA are canceled and the only thing keeping me afloat is NFL free agency.”

 Cadet says he stays in the loop by watching sports shows like “Undisputed” and “First Take.” He plans to start his own podcast after a long time of procrastinating.

Retired FAMU athletics administrator Vaughn Wilson says that student journalists should look back at the positive sports that they did have the opportunity to cover. “Golf had a spectacular fall, one of the best starts in history,” Wilson said. “Coach Rice was not only looking to win the MEAC, but the PGA Minority Championship. Football had a stellar season, the best in decades with a solid returner at quarterback and a transfer from Kansas State. When the Rattlers get the opportunity to play, they should be favored in the MEAC.”

When sports come back, it will be full speed ahead with no issues of covering anything sports related. In the meantime,  student-journalists will need to dig deep and find those stories, for they are out there.