Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Playing The Game, or "Why Chris was not in Las Vegas"

As the Facebook photo albums begin to surface and the questions of my whereabouts begin to mount, I figure now is as good as time as any to explain the reason why I was the lone absentee member of Ten95 and how that ties into journalism and the professional world as a whole. As the first half of the title suggests, "Playing the game" is much more complicated than an on-the-surface definition as a sports analogy. It has a deeper meaning, one that often asks the players to compromise their integrity, dignity and character in order to go along with the program so that they may be included in certain activities and reap certain benefits that said players aren't in a position to receive if they stood alone as independent-thinking individuals.

As I've said many a time when people ask me to do something that others seem to be doing with regularity (pledging and alcohol consumption, just to name a couple), "I value my individuality." And as I ponder a missed opportunity for professional development and social networking, I realize that not going along with something for the sake of going along does have its drawbacks.

The student chapter at Delaware State University has been weighed down by less than stellar leadership in the past two years (just my observation). When it wasn't known who exactly was going to represent the chapter at last year's convention in Indianapolis until 36 hours before the opening ceremonies, I was pretty much done at that point, and I concentrated on graduating and honing my craft as a writer from that point forward. That decision cost me Las Vegas this year, and while I stand strong behind my decision, my heart is filled with regret from not representing this blog and re-connecting with my new friends in the industry, my mind and hunger for journalism unfulfilled due to missing conventions and opportunities to network with sports writers, sports editors and sportscasters whose work I admire and respect.

When I spoke to our chapter advisor in mid-June, voicing my concerns and irritation with the direction of the chapter (or lackthereof), he simply told me that sometimes you have to "play the game" in order to keep the peace within the organization and that this was a great lesson for future reference in our profession. My first real experience with the game, and I don't like it. At all.

Such is the nature of the beast in journalism and the professional world; There will more than likely be instances where you're forced to be in contact with people who may rub you the wrong way or simply have a different mindset than you. They maybe smarter than you, they may not be. They might be the most intelligent person in the room or slower than two midgets pushing an 18-wheeler that's out of gas. More often than not, however, those folks will have a greater position than you because they know how to play the game. There is rarely a moment where you're forced to play along, so it is truly at your discretion whether you choose to or not.

It all depends how bad you want to advance in your field if you're willing to compromise your ideals, your standards and your ethics in order to fit in.

And as badly as I want to achieve success in this field of my dreams, I'm not sure I'm ready for this game just yet.

Posted by Chris at 12:21 PM | link

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