Press box? It's not for the press anymore
While a press box used to be hallowed ground for those who trod there before me—Ring Lardner, Kern Tips, Red Smith, Blackie Sherrod—those greats would find that "press" box is considered only in the loosest of terms these days.
A perfect example came two weeks ago at Llano.
After informing the disinterested group of hanger-ons in the Llano press box—which is pretty good size—that I was from the newspaper and was wondering if they had a place for me to put my stuff, nobody said a word.
Finally, the rent-a-cop who was stuffing his face as fast as he could with free press box fare, said that I was welcom to wait around until the game started and maybe somebody might leave.
While exiting, I queried if they might have a program or a roster. Every press box has a program or a roster.
With a mouth full of food, the rent-a-cop tells me I could go out by the entrance and buy one from a cheerleader if I wanted to. Thanks, Sheriff Roscoe.
Apparently hospitality is a foreign concept in Llano.
By my count, I have sat outside a half-dozen times in the past couple of years.
And it's not that I mind sitting outside—actually I prefer it because you can hear the sounds of the game better—but I just need room for the papers that I have to shuffle around all evening.
Plain and simple, press boxes have transformed into luxury boxes where superintendents and school board members come to hang.
I know sportswriters who have been booted out of the box to make room for these uh... "dignitaries." Yes that's what we'll call them.
And this epidemic is not just about high school, it's at every level.
While covering any Longhorn or high school state championship event at the University of Texas, the press used to park in the stadium or in the immediate lot adjacent to the stadium.
Current press parking is probably a mile or more from Memorial Stadium.
The state basketball tournament has become the same way. There is no press parking and coaches and these "dignitaries" take up all the parking and press passes and the genuine writers have been crammed into a tiny corner of the Superdrum.
Grantland Rice had a bowl named after him for Pete's sake. Sportswriters want just a little space to ply their craft... and of course free food.
Here are my five most memorable press boxes (for good or bad):
1. Kyle Field—The worst. It's situated in the clouds and the glass has a tint on it. You need a pair of binoculars and 3-D glasses to see the game.
2. Bob Shelton Field (Hays)—Had an incredible buffet and the friendliest ladies running it.
3. Moody High School—Had to sit on an upside down trash can near the bathroom door.
4. Copperas Cove—Was kicked out in the second quarter to give my seat to a "dignitary." It was raining, he wanted in, so I was out. Confiscated a tray of sandwiches on my way out the door.
5. The Alamodome—Best place in the state to watch a football game—period.