Sports, Football, Column

A New Yorker’s Quest To Adjust To College Sports (And Journalism)

I’ll just come out and say it—I am absolutely terrified.

I’d be lying to you if I said I am prepared for this. If you had asked me four months ago where I’d end up in my first semester at Boston College, I would not have been able to fathom this image: me, sitting in McElroy 113 late on a Sunday night, reading and revising countless sports articles, placing them carefully onto the website and virtual newspaper pages for the University’s oldest student newspaper.

Goodness, though, am I glad to be here. I have never wanted anything more than this.


Allow me to introduce myself.

New York born and raised, with as thick of a “Lawn Guyland” accent as you could possibly find. For the last eight years, I’ve lived on the stage—singing, acting, dancing (sort of)—you name a show, I probably did it. So forgive me if I sound overly dramatic in any of my columns, jumping to conclusions on Brad Bates’ broken promises of a men’s hockey championship this season, or telling you how I believe the football team’s triumphant return to the ACC Championship (at least) will happen any day now—BC beat USC after all.

As far as I can remember, I’ve loved sports—not particularly quality sports, but sports nonetheless. I’ve never played all that much aside for pure recreation. In middle school, I spent 20-plus hours a week on my varsity swim team. In high school—Manhattan’s Regis High School—I switched over to ultimate frisbee. I played very little, and when I did, I may as well have tried throwing a discus—it was that bad. If you ever dare making a trek out to Brighton in the spring, you may find me playing with BC’s club “B” team.

What I lack in coordination, I make up for in passion. I’ve lived and died—mostly died—with the Mets, Giants, Knicks, and Islanders since birth. Stand me at home plate at Citi Field and I can point out each seat I’ve sat in for every game I’ve attended. Bring up the Knicks and I’ll break out pictures of me and my girlfriend in her courtside season tickets—one of my all-time coolest sports memories. My old school secretary still keeps the detention slip I received after I skipped school to go to the Giants’ Super Bowl XLVI parade.

I knew from my first Mets game—July 21, 2004, David Wright’s debut—that I needed a future in sports. Something about sitting among a group of insane, screaming fans excited me, but I knew I could never have a jersey with my own name on the back. To coach you have to play the sport. And Lord help me if I ever tried the business side of pro sports—math scares the crap out of me.

From my acting experiences, however, I loved to talk—everyone always told me how I never shut up as a kid. And in school, I really loved to write. I filled up countless journals with wondrous tales of adventure and suspense, few that made sense but stories that my teacher loved—if they could read my handwriting, that is. So this love led me to the media world, and now The Heights has helped me realize that dream.


But I feel like my sports life missed something key.

Professional sports fans had their perks, but they lacked the fire I saw on my Saturday mornings immersed watching Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit rant on Gameday. Fans in Gainesville, Austin, and Pasadena screamed at the top of their lungs, wildly cheering on their schools. My friends never seemed to care about this exciting other half of the sports world—college athletics—and I never knew why. Until last month.

The New York Times produced an interactive map of college football fandom around the country, calculated through the always-reliable likes on Facebook. A lot of the results made sense, based on geography. Take a look at my zip code—11530—and you’ll see my problem.

Notre Dame? Florida? Syracuse? The Orange, one of only three FBS schools in New York State, plays its games 270 miles away, a farther distance from me to Boston. How could I get a taste of the college sports life if I needed a five-hour drive just to get to one?

When the college process rolled around last fall, I had one stipulation—I needed to go somewhere with a D-1, major conference program. In experiencing the UMass-BC game at Gillette Stadium, I knew I landed exactly where I needed to be. You see, there’s something about the traditions of college fans—their grating jeers directed at opposing goalies, their refusal to sit down at the expense of my ankles on a cold November night, their endless waving of giant Amy Poehler heads in a fruitless attempt to prevent the ACC’s star players from hitting foul shots.

So now that I have a school to support, it may seem easy. But I’ll stop short at calling myself a BC fan—I cannot say that just yet. I don’t plan on jumping on any bandwagons if BC does reach a championship game. I’ve dealt with that despicable act in New York for far too long—don’t tell me you’re an Islanders fan this season unless you’ve also dealt with the yearly pain of Alexei Yashin, Janne Niinimaa, and—gulp—Rick DiPietro.


No, we’ll let time decide. I need to go through my checklist before fully converting to Superfandom.

One, do it not for the wins, but for the players, the fans, the passion, the heart. How else did I root for the Mets?

Two, know the team’s history, know the team’s essence. When the team sucks, you better be prepared to defend it to the bitter end—an end that will probably come in defeat if you choose teams the way I do.

Three, be 100 percent sure. Once you choose, there’s no going back.

We’re certainly off to a good start in my first few months. Maybe it’ll happen once I know the ins-and-outs of BC athletics. I figure many hours of interviews in the Conte press room, and writing countless stories—analysis and opinion—on each of BC’s varsity teams will give me some sort of love to support these athletes.

For the BC fans out there reading this, my stellar team—consisting of Jack Stedman, and Tom DeVoto, and me—promises to give you the most objective and engaging reports of Eagles games you can possibly find, in print and online. Don’t expect conventional, Associated Press-type game reports—we plan to mix the weird and hysterical with the statistical and informative.

As for me, I don’t know if I deserved to end up here so quickly. But I can tell you I want to stick around for as long as y’all will let me.

So buckle up ladies and gentlemen. It sure will be one heck of a ride.

Featured Image by Emily Fahey / Heights Editor

Michael Sullivan was the 2017 editor-in-chief of The Heights and a two-time sports editor. He brought this paper to once a week and reminisces about the Wednesdays he could've had at BC. You can still follow his journalistic adventures @MichaelJSully.

December 8, 2014

ONE COMMENT ON THIS POST To “A New Yorker’s Quest To Adjust To College Sports (And Journalism)”

  1. Here’s your mom’s shout out! She posted your article on FB and I was drawn in by your headline and that fact that is was written by none other than Michael Sullivan! I can attest that you could have an incredible conversation in Key Food with one of the moms when you were just 5!! Now, I’m not a sports fan at all but I can identify a writer with a fire in him – that you are! ! I loved this article and I don’t like sports nor do I understand them. Sometimes I feel like an alien! Yet, I loved the article – you are incredibly talented and passionate. It’s so exciting! All the best to you! Oh and here’s a confession, I went to my first college football game this year at Syracuse! It was insane! I didn’t understand a thing but I did experience the thrill of a big game.

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