The Beatless Beat Writer: A Student's Perspective

Joey Blackwell

It has now been 23 days since Alabama athletics.

In a way, it doesn’t seem like it’s been that long. Simultaneously, however, it seems like it has been an eternity.

This week, online classes started back at UA. I’m currently working on finishing my degree in sports media, and with just under a month to go I’m excited to shift all of my focus into the world of Alabama athletics.

With both graduation cancelled and all classes shifting to online, the job as a UA student has arguably become more difficult. In six years as a student (four from a previous bachelor’s degree at another institution and two at UA), I have only taken one online class. Now that everything has shifted online, I find it quite overwhelming.

I just can’t wait for it to all be over.

Prior to joining BamaCentral, attending Crimson Tide sporting events as a fan were a great means to get away from the stresses of college life. I feel that in today’s society, people in general do not realize how strenuous the life of a college student is.

You may or may not be in that boat. The group of people that see college students and think ‘oh just wait until you get out into the real world.’ That can definitely apply to some students. Those that can afford to simply focus on school and nothing else definitely do have it easier than many.

However, from my experience, there are many that are already obtaining an education and are simultaneously in the real world.

Those people are people like myself. Those that are obtaining their education while working full-time. It’s not easy, and I think it counts as ‘real-world’ experience.

At the peak of stress in my college days, I was working an unpaid internship over 300 hours a semester, fielding two part-time jobs to make ends meet, as well as writing for the school newspaper and maintaining a role in the academic honor council. All of this while managing 18 credits of classes.

Trust me, I have more experience in obtaining bachelor’s degrees than most. It isn’t easy, especially to those that are having to pay their way through school.

But back to Alabama athletics.

Sporting events are a great stress relief for college students. They provide an opportunity to escape the library and engage in the common effort with their fellow students of cheering on their school.

For many it is the penultimate college experience, and now it is gone.

The worst of those affected were the senior student-athletes, who had their senior seasons swept out from under them in the blink of an eye. However, with the NCAA granting eligibility relief to all spring student-athletes, that issue has been rectified.

I feel that today’s entry might feel a tad depressing, but that is just where my head is at right now. I have spoken to several friends over the last few days, and their thoughts are all aligned with mine.

We need Alabama athletics back.

We know that it’s not possible, and we understand the reasoning behind the cancellations. We wholeheartedly agree with the sports being shut down. That doesn’t mean that we don’t miss it, though.

The same can be said for non-student fans. Heck, neither of my parents attended the University of Alabama, but both of them are life-long diehard fans of the Crimson Tide. While they aren’t alumni, their passion for the game definitely rivals that of those that have received an education at the Capstone.

My reason in bringing up those fans that did not attend Alabama is to shine a light that Tuscaloosa is not the only place in the state affected by the lack of Crimson Tide sports. In my tiny little window in Tuscaloosa, I can only see as far as the house across the street. However, the missing of Alabama athletics is much, much larger than that.

There is light at the end of the tunnel, though. In a story I wrote earlier this week, I talked about how Alabama football coach Nick Saban believes that the cancellation of spring practices and A-Day is not a big factor in the season. Saban expressed that he believes that if he were to have a 14-day teaching opportunity for the players prior to the start of fall camp, the team could still be ready in time for the 2020 season.

Currently, Saban and his staff are monitoring his players’ workouts from home via Apple Watches and other technology.

Out of all the sports that make me nervous regarding re-starting, it’s football. If the season is cancelled, then undoubtedly soccer would soon follow. Then basketball. That last thing this campus and this country needs is to see another season cancelled due to the current pandemic.

Sports has a way of bringing our campus, our city, our state, our nation and our planet together when we need it most. This is a time when we need sports to bring us together, but understandably that can’t realistically happen.

As the old cliché goes, the only thing we can do now is watch and pray.


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.

Comments (1)
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Christopher Walsh
Christopher Walsh


There is light at the end of the tunnel, but it's tough when you can't tell how far away it may be. Th important part is to keeping moving toward it because that's the only way you can get there.