Josh Lane Headshot

I don’t feel very strongly about college basketball. Shocking, right?

Don’t get me wrong, I love sports. I’m as big a New York Mets fan as you’ll find anywhere. It was my routine each summer night at 7:10 p.m. to sit in my recliner and watch Jacob DeGrom strike out 12 just for the Mets to lose. Yet, I came crawling — not even crawling — I came willingly sprinting back the next night to do it all over again. I’ve definitely got the sports fan piece down.

But when it comes to college basketball, and frankly most college athletics in general, that same passion just isn’t there for me. You can read Ethan’s love letter to college basketball to get that perspective, but I just don’t hold the sport in the same regard.

Before my time as a student journalist, I would only loosely follow Tennessee sports. I always hoped they won just because I lived here in the Knoxville area, but I did not regularly tune in unless the likes of Josh Dobbs, Grant Williams or Admiral Schofield were leading the way. The majority of the time, I was indifferent to Tennessee sports at best.

In one sense, that certainly helps me now as a student journalist. I cannot be partial to one team over the other. Even on the Tennessee beat, I can’t favor the Vols over their opponent, turn a blind eye to something they do or write favorably about the Vols when they don’t deserve it. Not having that deep-rooted fandom for the Vols has made it that much easier for me to stay unbiased.

This season, I hope to gain a sense of appreciation for college basketball that I’ve just not had before. I’m not talking about transforming into a diehard UT fan that bleeds orange each game day, I only want to be able to look at a sports league so storied and revered and have the same level of respect for it that my peers do.

I know it’s possible, too. As I have covered other teams for the Beacon in the past, I’ve developed a fondness for those sports that wasn’t there before. Maybe it’s just me being overly sentimental, or maybe other journalists can attest to this too. I don’t know.

What I do know is that the byproduct of being at each game and covering those people and their stories is that a soft spot developed in me for sports like tennis and soccer — ones which I previously knew and cared very little for. But just this past week, I was at a Tennessee soccer match as a spectator, and I found myself enjoying it despite the cold, rainy weather. I attribute that to my time covering the soccer team last season.

Like I said, I am not out to be the nation’s leading college basketball expert by season’s end in March. But I do hope when it’s all over, I can look back and just smile because I got to watch college basketball, something I’ve never been able to say before.

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