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Whitney Evans, KSL.com

I know nothing about sports and covered a Jazz game. Here's how it went

By Whitney Evans, KSL.com | Posted - Jan. 9, 2020 at 2:14 p.m.



Editor's note: This is the first in a series of articles where KSL.com news director Whitney Evans covers sports games.

Wednesday’s Deets: Jazz vs. Knicks. Final score: 128-104

SALT LAKE CITY — Have you ever been overconfident and underprepared?

That was me last night when I covered a Utah Jazz game.

After a rough start (during which I learned how to spell “Knicks” after two tries, and that there are 12, not 15, minutes in a quarter), I was off. But it was a battle.

First, some background.

Sports is not my forte, especially when I have to edit sports stories on my on-call rotation. KSL.com Sports reporters regularly field questions from me like, “Is this a grammatical error, or is it a sports term?”

I’m a news director, and I do news.

Luckily, my assistant news director, Josh Furlong, is a pro at all things sports. So, like any good leader, I let someone who is much smarter than I continue to excel in an area where he has clear strengths, and I steer clear of anything sports-related.

Also: Before we start dealing in stereotypes about how women don’t know about sports, I met Deseret News Jazz reporter Sarah Todd, who knows A LOT about sports. Stereotype debunked!

All that said, we thought it might be fun to let me try my hand at covering a sports game.

“Easy,” I thought.

I was wrong.

My bottom line: These sports reporters are legit (more on that later).

Here are my 2.5 takeaways from my night as a Utah Jazz reporter:

Takeaway 1: Donovan Mitchell is the real deal

A journalist by trade, I figured I’d just do some quick research before the game and be fine. Here’s the thing: It’s not that easy. And I failed to do my research, which made my job much more difficult.

Here’s what I do know: Everyone loves Donovan Mitchell. I knew this before yesterday. Now I KNOW this. I counted the number of people wearing Mitchell jerseys I could see from where I sat: There were 10! Far more Mitchell jersey-wearing fans than any other of the other players combined.

His stats also reflect this: Mitchell scored 16 points and has six assists in 25 minutes played against the Knicks.

I also know I’m not breaking any new ground by saying this, but Mitchell is really nice. He regularly complimented his teammates after the game and was pleasant with reporters. (Note to everyone who wanted me to ask Mitchell something: Everyone wanted to talk with him, so I had no chance to ask him your important questions.)

Takeaway 2: Emmanuel Mudiay had a great night

I hadn’t heard about Emmanuel Mudiay before Wednesday night (don’t feel bad, Mudiay. Before last night, I could only name five Jazz players off the top of my head).

But Mudiay stole the show against the Knicks on what was likely an important game for him: He used to play for the Knicks. My Jazz reporter source assured me this was Mudiay’s best performance with the Jazz. Mudiay scored 20 points (tying Bojan Bogdanovic for team-high points) and had four assists. It seemed like every other time I looked up, Mudiay made another basket. Swish!

Takeaway .5: My musings:

Sports reporters are legit. “Our job is hard, Whitney,” KSL.com Jazz reporter Ryan Miller said to me Wednesday night, as he scooped more ice cream out of his bowl while watching the game.

Seriously, though, this guy is a champion. He has the recall of a computer and is a VERY readable writer. He’s also very nice. If nothing else, tonight has cemented Ryan in my mind as a phenomenal reporter and human. Read his stuff for actual Jazz coverage.

Don’t clap! Not as much a takeaway as a warning: Don’t clap when people score! As someone who typically claps for both teams when they score, it is a very hard impulse to fight. But I needed to be a professional reporter last night, so I only clapped twice.

Second quarter double take: Actual questions that popped into my mind during the second quarter: Did we switch baskets or were we scoring baskets on that side the whole time? Don’t things switch at halftime?

Answer: We were scoring baskets on that side the whole time. Things switched at halftime.

What I learned: The Jazz want people to score open 3-pointers and layups or dunks. They don’t like midrange shots. Tweet me to find out why.

Also learned: When they say “plays” that means people are scoring points. I also now know what “above the break” and “catch and shoot” mean. AND the NBA has A LOT of information about its players.

Notes from the final minutes of the game: Jazz shoot and miss; Knicks shoot and miss; Jazz dribble for the last 17 seconds pass a bunch and shoot and make it!

Conclusion: I can see why everyone wants to be a sports reporter: You get to write about something you love and have a ton of fun doing it. And if you cover the Jazz, you also get to cover the legitimately nicest people.

Last night at the Jazz game cemented my respect for the people on these beats: Covering sports takes a lot of work, memorization, time away from family and friends and is definitely something you only do if you love.

Here's my hat tip to them!

Whitney Evans

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