The Beatless Beat Writer: A Quick Look Behind the Curtain

Joey Blackwell

“How’s it going, bud?”

This question is one that everyone receives often. A question that everyone more often than not asks out of common courtesy rather than concern.

Nowadays, though, the question has reason to be asked.

Over the past couple of weeks, my laptop has turned into my life in multiple aspects. While I have always used it for work and school, my laptop is now my sole source for both of those along with a new one: communication.

Through various new apps such as Kast and Zoom, talking with my friends via video chat has become something of a new normal. Prior to this pandemic, I very rarely did video chats with friends. However, times have changed.

Back to the question that my friend inquired of me yesterday afternoon.

When he asked, I first said that I was fine. In general, I am. I am healthy, I have a roof over my head, and while I am isolated here in my home in Tuscaloosa, I have plenty of food and supplies to keep me going for a bit.

It was really the follow-up statement from him that caused me to have to elaborate.

“How’s work, though? It must be tough right now.”

As I’ve stated in this blog before, sports are my life. Quite literally. But during this pandemic, let’s just say there’s a reason this blog is titled ‘The Beatless Beat Writer.’

Over the course of two days in early March, both of my beats disappeared. No more games. No more press conferences. No more news other than what we make on our own. Opinions, analysis and fallout from COVID-19 are the vast majority of what news has been over the past month.

It isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Sure, there have been some breaking commitment stories from Crimson Tide basketball and some NFL Draft updates, but with no live sporting events to cover, it has become quite a task.

Journalism isn’t easy. I know many believe that all sports journalists do is go to games for free and do a quick recap of the game and then boom! You’re done. However, that is not the case.

We spend countless hours every day doing research. Attending/listening in on press conferences. Writing stories in advance. Managing social media. Shooting and editing video. And all of this is to be done as quickly as possible.

At times, it can become overwhelming. In this fast-paced world, if you don’t jump on a story, you will be late. And even if you do jump on a story, many times you’re still late.

With no games to report on and no current analysis to provide other than looking back on what happened rather than what is happening, sports journalism has been forced to rapidly evolve.

At the back of all of our minds, we all know this is temporary. At least, that’s what we hope.

So when my friend posed his question to me, I told him that things are tough, but that we will make it through.

The same goes for Alabama fans. While the world of sports might be in one of its darkest eras of uncertainty in history, we will all make it through together.

As the old saying goes: when the going gets tough, the tough get going.

I believe in all of you, and I hope you believe in me. Together, we will see this through and will be attending Crimson Tide athletic events together again.

I can’t wait for that day to come.

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The Beatless Beat Writer is a series of stories by BamaCentral's own Joey Blackwell. The series is meant to reflect on and discuss Alabama athletics and its fans in Tuscaloosa during the current pandemic.

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