Column: My journey to becoming a “Sports Person”

In this Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015, file photo, the New England Patriots fans perform a card stunt commemorating their Super Bowl win before a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, at Gillette Stadium, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Gregory Payan, File)

Growing up I was not a “sports person.” I tried soccer at a young age and it was not for me. My immediate family did not watch sports regularly, so it was not the world I grew up in.

It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy watching sports, it’s just that the opportunity didn’t come up often. Because of this, in middle school and early high school I played dumb when it came to sports. I could be the entertainment - I could cheer for the wrong team or call a baseball bat a club. It wasn’t like I was some secret guru about sports. I just wasn’t letting on that I had some general knowledge.

In 10th grade, my aunt and uncle moved in with my mom and I. My aunt, unlike me, grew up as a “sports person.” My uncle, like many men, grew up in a world that was eager to show him the world of sports. As soon as they moved in with us, I became fully immersed in the world of sports.

The first sport that drew me in was football. I had always had a basic understanding of the game but any questions I had, they answered. My uncle was a Patriots fan, so I became a Patriots fan. I watched in awe as Tom Brady delivered bullet-like passes. I’ll never forget the trick play where Brady threw a lateral to Julian Edelman who then threw a 51-yard touchdown pass to Danny Amendola. By the time undrafted rookie Malcolm Butler made a game-winning interception in the end zone, I was a fan.

I loved the feeling. The feeling that you were a part of something bigger than yourself. I am an only child, so the team mentality was kind of foreign to me.

Little did I know that my most profound “sports moment” was right around the corner. My aunt had watched women’s college basketball around me and I had enjoyed it.  So I figured I’d watch it again. It was April 7, 2015. The game was UConn versus Notre Dame for a National Championship.

The game wasn’t a nail-biter. There was no buzzer beater. But I loved it.

After that, all my free-time was spent watching film from old UConn women’s basketball games. My favorite games to watch were from the 2008-09 season when Renee Montgomery, Tina Charles and Maya Moore played together and won a national championship. From there I eventually found my way to film from old WNBA games.

As I fell in love with this sport something strange started to happen. A lot of the people around me questioned why I had suddenly developed what they believed to be a random interest in sports. Like all female sports fans, I was always having to prove how much I knew about sports, especially football. My friends dubbed this another one of my weird obsessions that I would eventually get over.

I became more and more enthralled in the world of sports but I was saddened to see that female athletes simply don’t get the same pay, fan base or credit that they deserve. That sadness became anger which led to a passion to try and change this. I wanted to be part of the change that gave female athletes the coverage they deserve.  I decided to transfer from a school for criminal justice where I was studying international relations to UConn, where I chose to pursue sports journalism.

Here at UConn, I have found an amazing world where there are lots of people like me who also appreciate sports and respect female athletes. Specifically, joining the Daily Campus sports section and covering the women’s ice hockey and lacrosse teams has been surreal. I am constantly surrounded by people who are passionate about the same things as me.

Looking back, I think I became a “sports person” at the right time for me. I was unhappy with my college and what I was studying. Sports provided me with an outlet. I do sometimes feel sad that I behaved a certain way because I was not seen as the type of person who would like sports. There tends to be the assumption with women that only “tomboys” can like sports. This is simply not true. I hope that one day young women feel comfortable being known as a “sports fan” no matter what their other interests are. There is no right way to be a sports fan and no right age to become a sports fan.

For now, I will continue to be vocal about female athletes getting more coverage and respect. I may not have chosen an easy path - pursuing sports journalism given my gender - but I am pursuing a career in a field that I love.


Mariana Dominguez is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at mariana.dominguez@uconn.edu.