I frequently use writing prompts in my teaching and coaching. In fact, when the pandemic lockdown began in the Northeast, I had a regular weekly group and later developed a course under the umbrella of Prompted Expression. In the spirit of sparking my own creativity and getting ideas for my students and clients, I’ve decided to write from a prompt for seven consecutive days and share the results. The prompts are from a deck of cards called Actually Curious.
Writing Prompt Two: Have you ever experienced discrimination? How did you feel in that moment?
When I first became a sports writer in the 1980s, I mostly covered girls’ high school sports. As someone who barely passed gym class, I really enjoyed seeing these athletes work hard and I admired the camaraderie that came with playing on a team. I liked that my stories were filling their scrapbooks.
Years later, when the chance for a promotion came, it meant covering college sports. That beat was set up so that I’d be covering men’s and women’s sports. One coach of a male team, who I’d been friendly with and had given me compliments on my work in the past, suddenly became uncomfortable that I was covering his team. He was vocal about it.
I was a bit cowed, but I showed up and did my job, week after week. I got to know the ups and downs and quirks of his team, as most beat reporters do. Part of my job, which I hated, was predicting the outcome of their games in print every week. I went undefeated in my picks, which was actually more funny than impressive to me.
Then his team wound up playing a rival in the league championship, a big game for them. I covered it and wrote a story that appeared on the front page of the sports section. The day the article ran, the coach called me and told me it was the best story written about any team he’d ever coached. It was a highly satisfying moment.
So, yes, along the way in that profession I experienced some gender-based discrimination that often stung, but I found a way to use it in my columns as I developed a voice. It strengthened me. Now I look back at those times as my best life lessons.
(Next up … read Day Three (of Seven).