Journalists need to be mindful that the nature of their job often works in direct contrast to healthy living, self-care, and maintaining overall well-being.
Old footage of newsrooms often invokes images of buildings where people were allowed to smoke cigarettes inside, the stomach acid churning of deadline pressure, and grabbing food on the go.
My first experience at the Delta Democrat-Times included six straight hours if starring at a computer screen after covering several high school football games for former DD-T Sports editor Mitch Ariff. This resulted in an excruciating headache and eyestrain for the entire next day.
The environment around sports writing is probably the epicenter of unhealthy. Saturday mornings back in those days often involved covering park commission games, random neighborhood sports and action at the golf course or tennis court and college football. Up late on Friday and early on Saturday were the norm.
Concession stands at games featured high calories and minimal nutrition. In my early days in this endeavor, I really enjoyed the burgers at Washington School with all the fixings.
The turkey legs and nachos at Greenville High made the long walk from the press box worth it. And the hot chocolate at Greenville Christian’s late season games made those chilly fall nights more memorable.
Perhaps my best dining experience at the crossroads of athletic activity came several years ago when Mississippi Valley State defeated Paul Quinn College at homecoming.
The steak was perfectly cooked, medium well with a slight pink center. The potato was tender and buttery, and the dinner rolls simply melted in our mouths.
But, as sports writers continue down this path of eating on the go, becoming familiar with sodium, sugar, and empty calories, waistlines expand, health declines, and chronic conditions become more likely. Thankfully, somewhere along the way, I made a conscious decision to forgo the high calorie hijinks associated with athletic events.
Eating a good nutritious meal before covering games, buying water from concession stands instead of soda, and not snacking during games have really been helpful in improving my overall health in the last decade or more.
Every now and then, I will grab an item or two from the concession stand but doing it game in and game out are a thing of the past because when you know better, you just do better.
Off and on, I’ve been dabbling in this profession for more than 25 years and with a more health-conscious mindset, I look forward to the next 25.
Patrick Ervin is a freelance writer from Greenville who has been writing stories for the Delta Democrat-Times for more than two decades.