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Things you don’t learn in school

Being a sports guy is tough sometimes. Aside from the late hours, poor diet and need to occasionally cover six or seven games in a three-hour period, it is a pretty solid existence.

You go to a lot of places, meet a lot of people and eat a lot of concession stand food. All of those are pretty good things.

But, there are certain lessons you have to pick up on that no one really took the time to teach you in journalism classes.

Now that I am no longer a rookie in the business, I’ve begun to see that many of these rules are good for everyday life.

So here are a few insights from a still-developing sports writer.

Play the whole game. I’ve seen enough teams spot their opponents a big lead and then roll up and quit to realize that we can do the same thing in everyday life. When the relationship is in a rough patch or the job isn’t going very well, just play the whole game. If you keep doing your part, things eventually work out.

Value your teaammates. I talked to a former NFL offensive lineman the other day. He logged eight years in The League and shared a locker room with players like Hall of Famer Walter Payton. But the thing he remembers most are the guys he went to work with every day. Look at the people that are important in your life — family, friends, co-workers — and think about the fact that long after you’re no longer doing whatever it is you do, these are the faces that will illuminate your memories.

Mexican food with a hot dog chaser is never a good idea. The on-the-go sports guy diet has taught me the hard way that you have to take care of yourself. That holds true not only in regards to food intake, but also in other aspects of life. No matter what’s going on and how much requires your attention, always take the time to make good decisions.

Chewing gum is a necessary evil. In a business where you’re often up close and personal with a number of people for the sake of getting your interview done, it is only courteous to make sure that your breath doesn’t make the experience unpleasant for the interviewee. In life, we all have to deal with one another on a daily basis. So ask yourself what little thing you can do to help make someone else’s day just a little easier.

If you’re ever getting paid what you think you’re worth, you’re not worth what you’re being paid. The simple truth is that this, by and large, is a high-output business that doesn’t garner much financial security. It’s the nature of the beast. But, no matter what you do, if you allow your measurable rewards to dictate your work ethic, you’re cheating everybody, primarily yourself.

Discretion is the better part of valor. In a business where every mistake you make is forever preserved in print, you have to learn the value of not responding to certain people. Learn from the grain of truth in all criticisms, smile and go on about your day.

Jeremy D. Smith is sports editor for the Demopolis Times.