Sports Journalism Blog

Elizabeth Cotter speaks with Michigan State offensive line coach Mark Staten on Dec. 29 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Elizabeth Cotter speaks with Michigan State offensive line coach Mark Staten on Dec. 29 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

From AT&T Stadium in Arlington to the media hospitality room in the Omni Dallas Hotel, everything about the College Football Playoff is so grand. Media day was the first time I have ever experienced the stadium, the largest domed structure in the world. Television does not do it justice. The massive video board could light the place up all by itself. And if you hollowed out the stadium so it just had the exterior walls and the dome, it feels as though Lucas Oil Stadium would be sure to fit inside. The glass doors and multitude of windows give it such a clean and modern look. I can’t imagine a better place to hold a College Football Playoff Semifinal.

It is kind of unreal at first. It is a glorious glass football castle. A place for sports royalty and spectacle. What a change it will be when thousands of fans are cheering in the stands on New Year’s Eve and the intensity of the game fills the air. No longer will the beautiful stadium be the focus. Instead everyone will be captured by the battle playing out down below.

Media Day in itself was quite an experience. The players from Michigan State and Alabama were organized on the field, a team at a time, the scoreboard clock ticking down from 60 minutes until a train horn blared to end each session.

It was great to talk to some of the stars, including Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook and Alabama running back Derrick Henry, the Heisman Trophy winner. It was an honor to talk to such successful student-athletes. But what was more enjoyable was talking with those on the team that aren’t necessarily the face of their university, the ones away from the podium or the designated tables. Those players are more candid and are more conversational. They have just as many stories to tell and a different outlook on the team. They also tend to be more lighthearted. They joke with each other and interact in a much less scripted way. Alabama’s defensive linemen sat on the sideline and would get up and dance, tease each other and laugh. They were having fun.

Their behavior is a reminder that these players are still kids themselves. We are peers. Like many of us undergrads we are still struggling with the reality of being adults, having to act just right at all times and be responsible. We are at that in-between point of grown-up and being young and wanting to have fun. Their actions are just amplified to reach a national audience.

With the big day fast approaching, fans began arriving at the hotel. Entire families come to be a part of their favorite team’s history. It is interesting how sports is something that can so easily bring people together. It is true of my family, too.

It makes me happy to see people come together like that. They come to have fun and experience that fun with other people. I think that is one of the reasons sports journalism has been my passion. When people talk about sports, they light up and can talk about a team and be as emotionally attached as if they were actually a player. It’s that happiness that I want to foster. It’s that kind of celebration that brings people together. It’s an honor for me to be at such an amazing event and be a part of it, even if for now it is just a moment.

— Elizabeth Cotter | @ekcotter18a