Flashback to September 2009: Texas football had just beaten Texas Tech in the revenge game of the 2008 [Michael] Crabtree disaster. In my burnt orange button-down “gameday shirt,” (which of course was paired with some white gym shorts to complete my infamous “dressy casual” style) I was among 100,000 others, including a handful of Red Raider fans. During the game, it came as a disappointment to me when I saw how some of the Tech fans were being treated in the stands. The first thing I did about it was exchanged a few words with these fellow Longhorns who were flat out being classless jerks. The second thing I did was write a column about it.
The next morning, upon going online to reread what I had written, I ended up reading what other people had written in response to my column. Already, a couple dozen comments were made — much more than the usual lone comment that I would receive from my mother using an alias to not embarrass me too much (more on this later).
People were disgusted with my column. I received the typical “you suck at writing” comments. I had some people who demanded I be fired. Some readers wanted me to transfer schools.
Then there were the people who chose to make jabs at me personally. First of all, some people made jokes about my mother ... seriously. Others gave me some new nicknames, including “Dan Hur-bitch,” which I still think is pretty funny. And of course, some people were so upset, they chose to list my email address, phone number and, in case anyone wanted to come by my apartment and kill me, my address ... seriously!
All in all, there were about 80 comments made on this column, 75 of which were negative and pretty harsh. This didn’t even include the emails and Facebook messages that I received, one of which wanted me to go on the field before the next home game and apologize to the University for what I had said.
Obviously, I didn’t. Today, I don’t regret writing that column at all, and it was an interesting experience for me. Had I done it again, 18 months later, it would have been much better and much fairer because I will admit it wasn’t the best-written piece. But I definitely got my point across.
I learned a lot from that week, when for the first time in my life, my writing became a hot topic throughout the 40 Acres. First of all, I learned that “controversy sells,” as my brother Seth puts it.
Secondly, I learned not to say bad things about Texas fans. I realized that people do actually read the Texan. But most importantly, I learned what it’s like to be a journalist. I understood that people aren’t always going to love what I write, and I learned how to deal with that.
Since that column, I probably haven’t gotten 80 comments combined on the remainder of my probably 200 stories that I have done at the Texan.
If I have, that would be because the majority of responses come from my biggest fan: my mother. And unlike most of the comments from my Tech column, my mother’s comments are nice and sweet and supportive.
It was always nice to see those comments. At first, she would try not to embarrass me too much by using a fake name to disguise herself. Once she got a Facebook page, her name would start automatically coming up on her comments for the world to see. Though some people think it would bother me — A few of my coworkers around the office have recently tried giving me a hard time by hanging up some comments on the door of the sports office — I like it. I’m so proud and grateful for the support from my mom and the rest of my family, who in a way are trying just as hard to make me a success as I am.
It feels like yesterday that I went down to the Texan office for the first time. I have to thank all my sports editors — Anup who hired me, David who didn’t fire me, Blake, who didn’t tell me how much work sports editors do and Will, who I didn’t tell how much work sports editors do.
Big thanks to the copy desk who, for the most part, always corrected my mistakes and made my work look better and make sense. Thanks to Claire, who let us fly to Kansas City. I guess I’m going to miss my Life and Arts ladies who still haven’t brought me any food. Big ups to the design team, including the “triple threat” of Vero, Simo and Martina, who got me through countless late nights at the office. You three are so underappreciated and are probably the best three designers at any college paper in the country. And how could I forget Doug? You’re the man. Last but not least, thanks to my best bud James. You made college for me.
I don’t want to graduate, but it looks like it’s going to happen. I hope I haven’t reached the peak of my journalism career. But if I have, it’s been a hell of a ride.
Poop and money, screw Flanders and Texas Forever. I really can get whatever I want printed.