You know, I really thought 2014 was going to be the last time I would cover high school sports. While the wall of the student publication at Oak Park and River Forest High School humorlessly reads that I was editor-in-chief, I was just an awkward, skinny sports editor who mumbled his way through interviews and anxiety-inducing social interactions with athletes and coaches. My writing was messy, my ideas were all over the place, and I had one foot out the door as I prepared for college.
Nonetheless, Dan Haley actually hired me to take on the role of sports editor for the Landmark and its sister paper, Wednesday Journal. And I thank the universe every day he didn’t meet the insular man-child that was 2014 James Kay (apparently 2019 James Kay talks in the third-person … hopefully 2024 James Kay will have that corrected).
The one thing that always left a sour taste in my mouth when I look back at my time at OPRF is not putting everything I had into the sports beats I assigned myself. It wasn’t because I was failing to cover the teams I reported on but because of the tunnel vision I had, discussing only what happened on the field.
After completing my sports studies minor, my radar for athletic leads started picking up the cultural impact sport has on our society. Katherine Switzer, Jack Johnson, James Wilkinson, John Carlos, Tommy Smith, Billy Jean King, Babe Didrikson, Dick Allen, and countless other athletes and sports figures have paved the way for people to participate in the purest form of meritocracy: sports. It seems insane to ignore such an important aspect: how our sports have been shaped on a national scale.
As I take over for Marty Farmer, I hope to take an approach that emphasizes what is happening on and off the court on a local level. Don’t worry, I’ll still be writing up football recaps, frame-able for your student-athlete when they reminisce about the good ol’ days of high school football. But there is so much more to explore within our community that involves the entanglement of sports and culture.
I also plan on creating new ways for you to consume the Riverside-Brookfield Landmark sports section. The last two years, I have been podcasting about the NBA and WNBA (I host a show called The Skyhook, available on Apple Podcast and Spotify) and have been brought in to create multimedia content. Ideally, I will be creating short videos, and a podcast that will be produced into a digestible package so you can second-screen your sports news like we do with all of our media these days.
I am here to tell you that my foot is no longer out the door. In fact, I am sitting comfortably on the couch, over-indulging on Whole Foods buffet mac and cheese. A less embarrassing way of me saying that: my line and email are open to all of you, day or night. If you have a story you think is important to our community, send it my way, and I will give it my full attention.
There is nothing more important to me than making sure we have an even balance of coverage of our local sports teams. I look forward to the coming years, serving you as the sports editor at Riverside-Brookfield Landmark.