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Bittersweet exit

Published: Thursday, April 30, 2009

Updated: Thursday, April 30, 2009 07:04

The term bittersweet has come up all too often lately.

The season finale of “Chuck” was on Monday (bitter), but it hinted toward coming back for a third season (sweet). I recently shaved, thus ending my attempt to grow a playoff beard (bitter). However, I no longer have to scratch my face every 10 seconds or shampoo it in the shower, and I get to avoid looking like a hobo at the IC’s banquet tomorrow night (sweet).

This article and the banquet are perhaps the most bittersweet of all, as each represents the end of my tenure with this newspaper, which itself has been bittersweet.

It doesn’t seem possible I’ve been sports editor for only a year. On the one hand, we spent the past couple months counting down the number of issues remaining like a kid counts down the days until Christmas. On the other hand, this job and office have become such significant parts of my life. Since high school, my best friend’s house and family have been jokingly referred to as my second home and family, but the IC office and staff definitely took over those titles for the past year.

It’s an unfortunate certainty in life that time flies. When you add in my extreme levels of procrastination, this proves to be quite problematic. There are so many things I wanted to accomplish before I finished, but time snuck up on me before I had the chance.

I had planned to profile each of the club sports at UT. To every club team other than the wrestling team, I apologize. I wanted to profile the numerous foreign student-athletes at UT. Again, sorry. One of my prouder moments was the Michael Phelps diet, but I would have liked to do that type of story once per month rather than just once.

I made a late push at some creative stories in my final days. I ranked the top baseball movies and received the approval of UT pitcher Jeff Cinadr on my list. I also teamed up with the current sports editor and assistant sports editor to produce a detailed mock draft last Thursday.

During my time at the IC, I learned how to write and maintain a sports blog, and I learned blogs are not just for psychopaths with no lives. However, this is another area where time passed me by. I intended to surpass 100 entries by the end of the semester, and I currently sit at a whopping 17 posts. I’m going to start up a new sports site, and I’m sure the new sports editor, Zach Davis, will be happy to provide a link when the time comes.

There are plenty of positives to take away. It all started with long road trips to football games with former Sports Editor Christa Hieber and outgoing Editor in Chief Dave Hochanadel during the 2007 season.

There were three games during the 2008 season which will always stick out in my mind. I got to ride on a plane for the first time when I flew with the team to the Arizona game, where I met UT photographer and good friend Dan Miller. Going into the press box and tunnel at The Big House were lifelong dreams. Watching UT beat Michigan after calling it in print was a nice bonus.

I’ll also never forget the extremely long, overnight road trip to the Northern Illinois game with director of photography Kevin Galambos. The report I developed with Kevin and assistant director of photography Joseph Herr was, to say the least, frightening for the rest of the staff and a detriment to productivity. Another great skill I learned from those two is how to be a fairly competent photographer. I’m not great, but my work isn’t tosh-pot or turds as Joe might say, so I’m doing OK.

Most of my memories are more generic than specific. Some of the best times I’ve had were joking with Dave and managing editor Josh Martin at 3 a.m. while finishing up the paper, even if I was usually partly responsible for the late finish.

I wish there were some significant point or life message to this column rather than my simply ranting about memories. One message I can relay is I’m banking on the theory that money can’t buy happiness. Otherwise, I’d be a fool to study journalism. With the print media gradually dying and the online media struggling to turn a consistent profit, I’ll be lucky to find any job, let alone a good paying one.

In case any of the major sports publications do Internet searches on their own names: ESPN, Sports Illustrated, Sporting News, Yahoo! Sports, CBS Sports or any NFL or NHL team, give me a job!

I could regale you with countless other anecdotes, such as the curse of the pyromaniac Mamlambos, the paper airplane wars and the dangers of a hole in the office floor. However, I think I will save the rest of my memories for the autobiography I’ll probably never write.

As I begin the daunting task of job hunting in an industry that’s bad even by the standards of our economy, I leave you in the capable hands of Zach, my replacement. I know nothing is ever quite like the original, but sequels can be good too. Look at “Toy Story,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and “The Bourne Identity.” Those all had pretty solid sequels, and I’m sure Zach will fit that mold.

As someone who likes to end on a positive note, I’m going to be uncharacteristically positive as I conclude this article. Sure the economy sucks and pigs are threatening our very way of life, but I’m finally free from the time consuming, albeit enjoyable, responsibility of working for the newspaper. I’ll finally have time to work out more, write my novel and/or work enough to pay off some bills while I haplessly search for a job.

Sweet.

— Jason Mack is the outgoing Sports Editor and a junior majoring in communication.

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