Chuck Williams

Chuck Williams: Once a sports writer, always a sports writer

Chuck Williams

This is the one week of the year that I really miss being a sports writer.

There is no better job in journalism, at least for my money, than covering a college football game. Saturdays on campus are special.

About mid-morning Saturday, my Twitter and Facebook feeds will be populated with press box photos and a comment such as, “The office today.”

Even though I have been out of sports since 1997, everything I do today is shaped by the first 14 years of my career spent covering sports and editing sports sections.

It is the foundation on which I do my job.

Let’s start with where I choose to work most days. I spend the better part of the morning in Iron Bank Coffee Shop. It is the perfect place to start the day, clean up the email inbox and get a grip on what’s to come.

Some people don’t get it — it’s too noisy with too many people and too many distractions.

Think about it for a minute. Many sports writers learn to write in press boxes on deadline. There is no more distracting place than a college football press box. You tune it out and develop a focus.

Iron Bank, with its large windows and location at the corner of Broadway and 11th Street, is nothing more than a downtown Columbus press box.

And the newsmakers usually make their way through the coffee shop. On Monday morning, I was answering an email when Rep. Lynn Westmoreland walked in with a couple of members of his staff. We had a 15-minute conversation. It’s never a bad thing when you can pick a congressman’s brain.

The other thing that gives sports writers an advantage when they move into other jobs is life is full of winners and losers. We are all better off when we understand that. Sports writers deal with winners and losers on a daily basis.

But so do news reporters, even if they don’t want to admit it.

Court cases? Winners and losers.

Military? Winners and losers.

Crime briefs? Winners and losers.

Business? Winners and losers. The stock market is nothing more than a fancy scoreboard.

At the end of the day, almost everything boils down to winners and losers. 

Most good stories, truth be told, are about people. Early in my career, I got “stuck” covering NASCAR and did four or five races a year at Talladega, Daytona and Atlanta. I could not tell you a thing about how an engine works. But it was obvious Dale Earnhardt, Tim Richmond, Bobby Allison, Davey Allison and Neil Bonnett were interesting people. All of them had multiple stories and the stories seemed to change every race.

At the end of the day, the people are the story. Understanding that made NASCAR a whole lot more tolerable — that and the free Goody’s powders to get rid of the Sunday headaches.

Like many of you, I will be watching the games on television on Saturday.

But I will be missing the view from the press box.

Chuck Williams, senior reporter,