First Posted: 1/15/2009
In Journalism 101, we are taught to report just the facts and never, under any circumstances, write a story laced with personal biases or opinions.
In fact, we as sportswriters are often condemned and sometimes ridiculed if we're ever caught openly cheering for a particular team or player. And on some press credentials, it is clearly written that cheering on press row is not acceptable behavior.
Which brings me to Wednesday night. I covered The University of North Carolina at Pembroke volleyball home-opener against Wingate.
The Braves lost its final 25 matches last season and just wanted to get the monkey off its back - ASAP.
One victory would wipe the slate clean.
The Braves had many vocal supporters in attendance and another on press row.
Yes, I have a confession: I committed the ultimate journalism sin. I was secretly rooting for UNCP to somehow pull out a victory against Wingate.
It didn't happen.
The home team showed some first-game jitters and fell in three games to its visitors.
Now, I wasn't sad, distraught and no, I didn't lose any money on the outcome of the game. I simply wanted a Braves' victory to rid the team of that ugly streak, which now sits at 26.
When you lose that many of anything in a row, all anybody wants to talk about is “The Streak.”
When a team loses that many in a row, all everybody points to is “The Streak.”
And when anybody or any team loses that many in a row, they can become branded as losers.
Just ask the 1976-77 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which lost its first 26 football games in a row, or the 2003 Detroit Tigers, which lost an American League record 119 baseball games.
These teams will forever be associated for being big-time losers in their respective leagues.
I refuse to say this about the UNCP volleyball team. This team may have run across a long stretch of bad luck, but they are not losers.
The program may be in a rut, but I still don't believe they are losers.
And its record may be have been lousy, but still, they are not losers.
Why, you ask?
Because they are college students, and like high school teams, which I will never brand as losers, these girls are learning lessons in life as well as playing a game.
This is all part of growing up and dealing with adversity. Keep in mind, college athletes aren't earning salaries for what they do. Yes, most have scholarships, but all attend multiple classes as well, in addition to playing athletics.
Hey, I'm not making excuses for the Braves. The team has some work to do. But I just don't believe in calling college student-athletes losers.
And one other reason I wanted the Braves to win: The record for most consecutive matches lost at the NCAA Division II level is 44. These girls don't want, neither do they deserve, any part of that history.
Now, for the real loser: Yours truly.
In the weekly Pigskin Prognosticators showdown, Mr. Grable came in last place. But that wasn't the worst part - Billye Ammons, vice president of the Robeson Community College Foundation, and a female, picked 11 of 13 winners, leaving myself in last place (8-5) for the week.
I think that makes Ammons a perfect candidate for The Robesonian's Football Frenzy Contest, which starts Wednesday. For more details, pick up a copy of that day's Robesonian. There's a terrific prize attached to winning that weekly contest.
As for me, I will reiterate, it's a long season, and when the leaves turn brown, I'll be wearing the Pigskin Prognosticator crown.
This week's local games:
East Bladen at Fairmont: Fairmont was competitive in last week's lost at Bunn, but I like East Bladen. Why? Because last season E.B. won this game by seven touchdowns. East Bladen 35, Fairmont 13.
Roanoke at Red Springs: I've said all along that this is going to be a special season for Red Springs and I'm sticking to my gut feeling. Red Springs 27, Roanoke 13.
Hoke at Purnell Swett: This is a tough call, because in all honesty, I know nothing about either program. But since sportswriter Shane Mettlen is picking Purnell Swett, I'll go with Hoke. Hoke 17, Swett 13.
St. Pauls at Pinecrest: The easiest pick of the night. St. Pauls has the best football team in the area. And Pinecrest, well, is Pinecrest. St. Pauls 40, Pinecrest 10.
n Walter Grable is the assistant sports editor for The Robesonian. He can be reached by calling 739-4322, Ext. 119.