Sports Journalism As Told By Editor on Autism Spectrum – The Oberlin Review

Two months ago, I was officially diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, after years of questioning, testing, counseling, and wondering who I was and why I always felt different. Reflecting on my new diagnosis has helped me answer questions I’ve had since I started contributing Control: There are so many great parts, so why do I love writing about Sports?

After all, sports weren’t always my thing. I didn’t play sports for most of my childhood, I had a hard time working with others, and I really hated watching sports. For example, when I was in second grade on my soccer team, I would often stare at the sky or pick up a bunch of grass, much to the chagrin of my teammates and coaches. I didn’t see any noise, which seemed like overcomplication of people fighting each other on the ball or running in ovals. Sports events other than the Olympics, such as the Super Bowl and the US Open, seemed like a joke among all that I didn’t understand.

It wasn’t until my senior year of high school that I became intrigued when I learned about Ohio State University’s mascot, Brutus Bucky, through a friend. Although his appearance was surprising at first – his head is a giant nut – somehow I was inspired by the joy he brings to his fans, for example, by doing push-ups after a hit or a quick headbutt before a game.

Thanks to Mr. Bucky, I became a die-hard Ohio State fan and soon realized that every game was more than just a friendly rivalry, it was a story of the best and worst of humanity. The cast of characters includes not just the star player or team captain, but bench players, cheerleaders, mascots, sweaty mascots, and most importantly, anyone who has been disrespected or overlooked. These are the underdogs, the underrated recruits, the die-hard supporters who find comfort and solace in their favorite team or players, and those who have overcome extraordinary challenges to prove that they still exist. Supporting sports means you’re part of something much bigger than yourself, a larger, historic collective and community.

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It’s a problem for me, especially as someone who feels left out of social circles and conversations, whether it’s misunderstanding figurative language or not being able to relate to people who don’t deeply love some particular interest I can talk about. about an hour. But in the sports world, my vast knowledge of Brutus Buckeyes or March Madness isn’t criticized or belittled—it’s celebrated. When I wrote my first piece for the Sports section in October 2021, Locker Room Interviews, I felt for the first time that I was capable of producing something intelligent and meaningful.

As I progressed from columnist to Production Editor, to Contributing Sports Editor, and the following semester to Sports Editor, my pride in my job grew. Along the way, I learned a lot to appreciate. Although it can be confusing, I’ve come to love reading the stats, rules, and profiles of each sport carefully. I spent that week poring over every piece of paper I wrote for grammar, spelling, and style, and I fell in love with the art of creating. I reread my section articles at least five times and fell in love with the meticulous process of drawing a cat on the first print of the page. Because I fell in love with track and field, every week I had the opportunity to think outside the box and notice things in athletics culture that people ignore. I love telling stories about people in the Oberlin community and beyond, Jim Fix, OC ’57, members of the Oberlin College Taikos, and even participants in the recently formed pickleball league. Being an editor doesn’t feel like a job, but a natural extension of my mind and heart.

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However, I am still facing some challenges. Sometimes I have to work in a less simulated space, like a room with all the lights off or under a table. Even with years of practice, direct eye contact is still something I struggle with, so interviewing can be a bit nerve-wracking. Like many autistic women who are often underdiagnosed, I have learned to “suppress” or suppress natural autistic responses so that I can do my best to fit into the neurotypical world. Avoid certain actions in public places such as talking in a monotone voice or being agitated. But this filter does not always work. Every now and then, when I go to a game to cover or watch it, I can observe a lot: the sound of the buzzer, the crunching of shoes on the gym floor, the texture of the seats, the greasy smell and color of burgers in the cafeteria. someone’s shirt, the glare of overhead fluorescent lights – and accidentally forget about the actual game. However, I think it gives me a sharper look when working on my posts, and I’m proud that I’ve been able to push myself outside of my comfort zone.

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I don’t know what my future holds if I pursue a career in sports journalism, where diversity among reporters and editors is still sorely lacking. According to a report by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports, 79.2 percent of sports editors are white and 83.3 percent are male. I’m in a world where 85 percent of college-educated autistic people are unemployed or underemployed, even if they choose not to study journalism. I don’t know how my peers, professors, friends, family, future employers, and strangers will view me after reading this article. In fact, I’m still not entirely sure how I see myself after receiving my diagnosis.

But whatever happens, I will always take solace in the work I did this semester, especially my co-editors Andrea Nguyen, a third-year college student, and Zoë Kuzbari, a fourth-year student. Autism is not a dirty secret or a disease to be cured, but a unique part of me that is recognized in every word written and edited for this piece. Thank you Sports for helping me find my voice, connecting me to my community, and celebrating an important part of me.


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