Recapping our conversation with Evan F. Moore and Jashvina Shah, authors of Game Misconduct: Hockey’s Toxic Culture and How to Fix It.
Missed the public newsroom? Watch the recording here on 14 East’s YouTube.
On February 15, 14 East hosted our first public newsroom of 2022, 14 East: Beyond Sports. We had the humble pleasure of hosting the authors of Game Misconduct: Hockey’s Toxic Culture and How to Fix It, Evan F. Moore and Jashvina Shah. Evan Moore’s work focuses upon the intersection of sports, race and culture. He is also an adjunct professor at DePaul University. Jashvina Shah is a freelance sports journalist whose work has spanned more than a decade. She is also a two-time Best American Sportswriting Notable.
14 East: Beyond Sports was an event that invited its attendees to rethink their conceptions surrounding sports journalism. Between Moore and Shah, the audience was able to hear some powerful reflections on issues surrounding different facets of identity and their connections with the work done by two stellar members of the journalist community. Their work is essential in shifting the paradigm in the sports world, and we were so honored to have them enter our newsroom. Without further ado, here are our newsroom’s five takeaways from 14 East: Beyond Sports.
Hold True To Your Background
During our newsroom, identity was a focal point for both of our guest speakers. When describing his initial spark in interest in sports coverage, Moore pointed to his parents as a key motivating factor. As the child of two Chicago Public Schools teachers, his first forays into the sporting world were CPS basketball and football games, highlighting that they were an integral part of his community. Shah’s exposure also came through her parents, who raised her as a faithful New England Patriots fan who never missed a game. Both held writing as a core passion and utilized their identity to fuel the work that they create.
Curate A Supportive Village
As a woman of color, Jashvina Shah expressed how important the community that you surround yourself with is, especially as you work through the levels of the field of journalism. She opened up about how essential her network of fellow women of color has been, as they each serve as a friendly ear to each other in a white- and male-dominated world. Their companionship is an essential part of maintaining their mental health, as they all pour into each other, as well as being able to learn from each other. “That’s how you survive,” she said. “Because other people who know what you’re going through and understand it and can be there to be like, hey, either you need to take a step back or you need to take time for yourself.”
Develop a Process and Hold Yourself Accountable
Writing a book is no easy task, and our guest speakers definitely gave us some gems on their writing processes. Shah hammered home that working with Moore gave her added understanding of how procrastination may hamper others, saying that “I have to do it. Because it’s not just you, someone else is relying on you, too.” To this, Moore added, “Writing a book isn’t for the timid,” and emphasized to our attendees to “pace yourself because you don’t want to get too frazzled.”
Interrogate Power Dynamics
Within our discourse, we delved into how it is a duty of sports journalists to interrogate the dynamics that exist within the sport in which they work. When asked what needs to change within the world of sports journalism, both pointed to issues within the field regarding nepotism. Shah bluntly stated, “No more nepotism,” while Moore pointed out that “people tend to hire the people who are in their circle of jobs.”
Both also emphasized that it’s essential for journalists to interrogate the power structures of the specific sports fields that they work in, citing the Blackhawks sexual assault scandal, as well as the ways that the NHL has not taken steps to stop domestic violence committed by their players, to which Shah stated, “It’s happening because you didn’t implement these guidelines, this is what you need to do to make sure it doesn’t happen going forward.”
Context Is Key
Throughout our newsroom, our guest speakers homed in on the fact that context is everything. The world of sports journalism is one that has veered toward an overwhelmingly white male perspective, one that often ignores the historical context of why that is. “It’s just Black history, and you have to look at it with nuance,” Moore stated plainly. He pointed to media coverage of Colin Kaepernick, as well as the reframing of Black history as the right-wing bogeyman of critical racial theory as two key points of reference. As Moore alluded, this nuance allows space for additional examination of the many different layers of controversies within sports media.
Header image by Samarah Nasir