Posted May 9, 2012 | comments Leave a comment

Keeler: Celebrity interviews no big deal

Tommy Keeler

By Tommy Keeler - tkeeler@nvdaily.com

I'll be the first to admit I'm lucky to have the job I have.

People tell me all the time that I have a great job. Many believe being a sports writer is great because you get to meet sports celebrities, or because you sometimes get to cover big events.

I agree that it is a great job, just not for the same reasons.

This past weekend I interviewed former NASCAR driver Rusty Wallace, former Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Dorsett, and former NFL quarterback Doug Flutie at the Apple Blossom Festival in Winchester. This weekend I will be chatting with seven-time grand slam tennis champion Mats Wilander, when he holds a clinic at the Winchester Country Club.

Just another week in the life of a sports writer, right?

In the last year I have interviewed three Heisman Trophy winners -- Dorsett, Flutie and Herschel Walker.

Many would be very envious of my line of work. It's only natural for fans to get excited as they see some of their favorite celebrities. There's nothing wrong with that, but to me meeting celebrities is far from my favorite part of the job.

It really hit me this weekend as I was leaving the press conference with Dorsett. As a life-long Cowboys' fan, I grew up a Dorsett fan. When I was little he was my favorite NFL player on my favorite team. Yet, I wasn't excited to meet him. I didn't really feel anything.

Dorsett, as well as Wallace and Flutie, seemed like nice guys, not something that you can say about every celebrity. When I was a kid, I'm sure I would've been ecstatic to meet Dorsett, but things have changed.

I no longer see things the way I used to. I'm still a fan, but when you're in the media it certainly changes the way you watch a game.

As a sports writer you're supposed to stay impartial, to not show emotions when you're covering a game. The most important rule in a press box is no cheering allowed.

I've also interviewed so many celebrities in my time, that after a while they all seem the same. Don't get me wrong, being able to talk to famous people isn't a bad thing, it just doesn't excite me the way it would have when I was younger. Of course, if I ever meet Maria Sharapova that would be different, but I won't be excited to see her because she's an athlete.

The biggest reason I'm no longer awestruck at meeting celebrities is simply because, unlike when I was a kid, I don't put celebrities on a pedestal.

I've realized over time that they are just like everyone else. I don't look up to stars because I don't think anyone should look up to someone they don't even really know.

Getting to meet celebrities from time to time is still a nice perk to my job, and I certainly don't hate it. However, I would much rather be covering a high school game than hanging out with Tiger Woods.

One of my favorite parts of the Festival's sports breakfast was trying to figure out, along with one of the other reporters who was there, who would be representing the different area schools as a sports breakfast guest. It turns out the ones chosen were: Cory Hammons (Sherando), Allie Pieper (SVCA), Britani Myers (Handley), Mark Bean (James Wood), Courtni Green (Millbrook) and Ethan Emmart (Clarke County).

Professional and college sports are great, and I have been lucky enough to cover a lot of different events over the years, but there's nothing like a high school sporting event.

The athletes put their heart and soul into it and they do it for the love of the game -- not for money. Most of them are very personable when you go to interview them, and their emotions are real.

Of course, there's also the fans. There's nothing like going to a game (high school, pro or college) with a packed crowd. However, at a high school event those fans are also people in your community. That makes it even more special -- that's part of what makes high school sports so special.

At the end of the day it's all about the community and how they support their players and their team. And I'm happy to be a part of that, especially in the community that's always been my home.

So yes, I am lucky to have the job I have. I'm lucky to cover the big games in our area and be able to interview the local high school stars. To me they will always be the stars that shine the brightest.

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