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Chris Graham: Covering the 2021 ACC Tournament from the home bunker

chris graham espnAny other year, I’m writing this from courtside, or somewhere in the bowels of an arena, wrapping a busy Day 2 at the ACC Tournament.

Tonight I had to go to ESPN.com to see that North Carolina won the nightcap.

I wasn’t watching.

Didn’t watch the opening evening game between Duke and Louisville.

The media-relations folks at the ACC made me a virtual news guy this year.

Making my accountant happy, if no one else.

I saved a cool thousand bucks this week not having to reserve hotel accommodations.

Would I prefer to be there?

Obviously.

Not in the cards for me.

The numbers vary, but either five or eight media folks per school got in this year.

I didn’t make the cut.

Fine.

For the past nine tournaments, I’d covered every game like it was the most important event on the planet.

A mistake that I’ll never make again.

This year, I discovered my place in the pecking order.

I’m not in any pecking order.

Again, fine.

I’m just a seat-filler, apparently.

Kinda tough to learn that’s what they think of you, but it’s a good bit of knowledge to have.

And actually, rather liberating.

I’d covered every game of the last nine tournaments like it was the end of the world out of loyalty, misguided though it was.

As a kid, I found various and sundry excuses to miss school on the quarterfinal Fridays to be able to take in the early games.

One year, my elementary school, in a spasm of scheduling stupidity, put the school spelling bee up against the UVA noon game.

As the two-time defending champ, I couldn’t be out sick that day.

Good news: I defended my title, and ‘the Hoos notched the W.

You want to know why, when I fell into being credentialed for ACC Tournaments, I covered every game like it was Armageddon?

Yeah, that’s why.

I didn’t not get credentialed this year for any other reason than … I dunno.

Somebody in Greensboro isn’t good at math?

Web metrics are an exact science, and AFP has web metrics and science on its side.

We also don’t pretend that the ACC Network is the greatest thing since “Battle of the Network Stars.”

I get it. We ruffle feathers.

I’m still waiting for that email back from the ESPN PR flunky with numbers on how many people watch the ACC Network.

Their silence tells me all I need to know.

A tree falls in the forest, no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound.

You get the drift.

Maybe I never make it back to an ACC Tournament.

Life goes on.

I’ll still write about it. Maybe I’ll be a tad bit more honest than the guys and gals who get the plum seats, the free food, the patronizing pats on the noggins from the people who give out the plum seats and the free food.

I just want to write about, analyze, basketball.

I can do that from home just as easily, and to be honest, more easily, from the home office.

That, and I don’t have to pretend to enjoy the company of the jock-sniffing counting-numbers morons who fill the press seats.

Funny thing: none of them seem to like their jobs.

All they do is complain.

And treat writing about basketball like it’s … an actual job.

I’ve been doing this for 25 years, and never treated it as a job.

I worked construction, fast food, stocking grocery stores.

Getting paid to write about ACC basketball?

That’s winning the fucking lottery.

Apparently that’s where I went wrong with all of this.

I don’t hate it enough to be worthy.

Alas.

Story by Chris Graham


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