Being a student sports journalist in college is tough. And no, it isn’t because of the way we are belittled by media relations folk or scoffed at by our peers for thinking we could make a career out of what we are doing. The difficulty is not in the meager pay – believe me, “meager” is a generous word — or having to balance school with up-to-the-minute coverage.

The real reason this job can be a bummer is that we really have to be journalists. We have to be unbiased and to try to put a bandage over our gaping wounds that bleed green and yellow (or whatever colors you root for).

Granted, this is the right thing to do, as a journalist can only gain respect by proving under any circumstance they will cover a story, program or an issue as if they are line judges in tennis.

But what sports journalist gets into this line of work without having had their passion ignited through fandom? Personally, there is no chance I would be writing this article for the Emerald if the new kid at my high school, who had just moved from Oregon to California, hadn’t invited me over to watch football. As a 15-year-old kid who only ever enjoyed the NFL, watching Dennis Dixon and Jonathan Stewart stymie defenders for the first time put me in front of this laptop today.

I knew that if I was going to write about football, it was going to be about the Oregon Ducks as an Oregon Duck. And now six years later as a senior, I think back and appreciate that simple fandom has given me endless opportunities and fun times. I realized so many of my dreams purely because I got hooked on the Ducks, and the irony of it all is that now I am expected not to be fan.

Some things have changed as I have gotten older in regards to my following of the Ducks. I no longer idolize college athletes — as I am older than half of them now, get just as good as grades as them and have befriended a few — while I have had to grasp that sitting next to Phil Knight and Mike Bellotti isn’t as magical as I thought it would be. But I am still a Duck fan through and through — if no longer in idolization of athletes, then in respect for them and no longer as a prospective student but a prideful one.

In the Autzen Stadium press area, there is a sign regulating no cheering. When I go to the Ducks’ games as a media member, I wear khakis and a team-neutral colored dress shirt. When De’Anthony Thomas breaks into the open field, I start typing away and skip the screaming. If I ever want to a get job doing this after college, then I will have to keep unbiased.

For the sake of my future as a journalist and the sanity of the readers, I promise to remain fair and balanced and never let my fan flag fly while covering any sport, team or player. But, it is nice to know I have this place, this column, every week in which I can say “Go Ducks”!