It’s something unpredictable, but in the end it’s right.
I hope you had the time of your life.
For nearly a decade, sports journalism was my life. The hours weren’t always fun and the pay was worse. Yet, I could honestly say that I loved my job.
On June 22, I officially said goodbye to my sports journalism career. Sure I’m still going to pick up some side work here and there, but no longer will I have business cards with the title “Sports Editor” on them.
Frankly, I’m OK with that.
I wasn’t in that mindset when I was laid off by The Daily News two days after Christmas in 2010. I was shocked, hurt and disappointed. I loved my career, and I wasn’t ready for it to end. I felt like everything I had worked years for was ripped away from me.
That sadness turned to bitterness as I spent more than a year trying to get out of the business. Yet no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t find another opportunity. People looked at my resume and immediately threw it out since my background was exclusively in sports.
When Houston Community Newspapers offered me a job, I had to accept to end my year of unemployment. I wasn’t super thrilled, but a job was a job, and I needed it.
About a week after accepting the position, my boss presented a plan for me. They wanted to re-brand the online package, which meant I would have a heavy hand in website redesign and social media. I loved it.
Within three weeks we launched the redesigned sports websites. During UIL realignment and Signing Day, our sports websites got record numbers.
This renewed my love of the newspaper business. In my year of research during unemployment, I had realized the future of newspapers wasn’t in digital content — it was the present of newspapers.
My new boss and the company vice president shared that vision. They gave me a ton of control to manage content and try out new things on their sites, such as blogs, podcasts and live chats.
Then, in April, we launched my baby — 45Sports.com. The VP had the idea to collect all of our companies sports stories from around the Houston area onto one website. It was brilliant.
I spent weeks drawing designs and working with our web guy to figure out what was possible and what were the best ideas for the site.
When it launched, I felt like we truly had the premier local sports website in the Houston area. I managed the content and promoted the heck out of it. We got nothing but positive reviews from people and our web numbers continued to smash those from the previous year.
However, during all of this, HCN was up for sale. We thought we would be OK, especially if our VP was promoted to president as we hoped.
That wasn’t the case.
I’m not bitter towards the owners that bought the company. They decided the best way for them to make a profit was to ditch digital and focus on print revenue. However, that wasn’t my vision and I decided to try and look again for a job outside of journalism.
I was lucky this time. Within two weeks of looking, I got an email from the Marketing Director at Moody Gardens. A few hours later, I officially accepted a job and was on my way out of the newspaper business.
After a year-and-a-half of waiting, I finally had the opportunity I had been hoping for.
My final day in the newspaper was bitter sweet. The new owners took over that day and had the employees gather in their home offices.
Each employee was called up and handed an envelope. It either contained your new position and benefits info, or your letter of termination.
It was a relief for me, because I went in knowing it didn’t matter what was in my envelope. Mine ended up containing a letter saying they accepted my resignation.
It was tough watching everyone else’s reaction though. Some were breathing signs of relief for getting retained by the new owners. Others were in tears or in shock having received letters of termination.
One of my sports writers received a letter of termination. The dude busted his ass for me for six months and didn’t deserve to get laid off. Unfortunately, that’s the business now, and it is why I had to get out. I couldn’t be looking over my shoulder any more.
I will look back fondly on my time at HCN. It gave me one more chance to do something I loved.
Even more important, though, was I got to leave the business on my terms. No phone call being laid off. It was me sending an email telling them my time was done.
There is still some unpredictability. I’m leaving a business that has been my life eight years. I’m learning a new business, though my background in media will help immensely with the transition.
I’ll always have the memories and the relationships built during my time in sports journalism. However, it was the right time to go.
I had the time of my life. Now on to the next chapter…
Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.