Red All Over: Let Ty Jordan’s death be a lesson for young journalists

If you want to cover sports, you still need to know your way around police reports and open record requests

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) A small memorial in honor of Utah running back Ty Jordan, who died in a reported accidental gunshot wound on Christmas night, takes shape outside the Spence and Cleone Eccles Football Center on the University of Utah campus on Monday, Dec. 28, 2020.

Red All Over is a weekly newsletter covering Utah athletics. Subscribe here.

In the days since we learned of Ty Jordan’s death, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about a lot of things. We’re not going to get into all of that, at least not right now, but I do want to touch on one thing that has been on my mind this week.

All aspiring sports journalists, whether that be high school, college, or early in his/her professional career, should learn to get comfortable being uncomfortable.

By no means is it a common occurrence, but yes, on your beat, someone may get arrested or, God forbid, someone may die. Your beat is your responsibility, so you’re going to have to deal with things when they happen.

Learn how to submit an open-records request, learn how to read a contract, learn how to read a police report, learn how to decipher a report from a medical examiner’s office, which I had to do for the first time over the weekend.

You might have to call the public information officer at a police department, you might have to call a medical examiner’s office, you may have to make an attempt to interview the family and friends of the deceased, and you are absolutely going to have to ask questions people don’t want to answer.

It is uncomfortable to do those things, but they’re unfortunately sometimes part of the deal if you’re signing up for this profession.

Personally, I would advise any young journalist to seek an internship outside of sports, because you can take a lot of what you’ll learn back to sports and apply it. If I had any foresight when I was a 20-year old, that’s what I would’ve done, but alas.

I will get off my soapbox now and genuinely wish everyone a happy, healthy and safe 2021. Hoping it’s better than 2020. That’s a pretty low bar, but we have to start somewhere.

What’s on my mind, Utah or otherwise

• I understand the road struggles the Utah basketball team endured last season vs. the Pac-12, but last season was last season and this season is this season. The Utes will take the Los Angeles swing this week later this week, at UCLA on Thursday and at USC on Saturday. Even a split of those two should have Utah feeling good. It would be 2-1 in the Pac-12 with four straight home games coming next vs. Oregon State, Oregon, Stanford and Cal. On paper, that feels like a manageable home stand, but one thing at a time.

• I’ve been getting this a lot in the days since Jordan’s death. No, I do not foresee this Utah coaching staff reaching out to bring back Devin Brumfield and/or Jordan Wilmore. Bottom line, Kyle Whittingham has been unafraid to hit the NCAA Transfer Portal for help at any given position. I expect that to be the case at running back, which was looking pretty thin even with Jordan.

• Very quietly, the best basketball story in the state of Utah might be Southern Utah, which is 7-1 and 2-0 in the Big Sky under sixth-year head coach Todd Simon. The bad news is the Thunderbirds went on a pause Tuesday, which means two games at Montana State on Thursday and Saturday have been canceled and are not expected to be made up.

• College basketball is not quite Gonzaga vs. the field just yet, but boy, it doesn’t seem like it’s that far away. The Bulldogs have been the best team in college basketball, and it’s not really close. Teams slip up, teams have bad nights, COVID-19 could be a factor, but go look at Gonzaga’s schedule and tell me where the first loss is coming from.

Random musings

• Not that anyone sane is actually doing anything big on New Year’s Eve in the middle of a pandemic, but for the record, New Year’s Eve is one of the absolute worst amateur hours on the calendar. Thanksgiving Eve, Dec. 23, St. Patrick’s Day are the other contenders. Absolute rookie deal anywhere you dare go, which is why I stopped going to bars on these dates when I was probably 24 or 25.

• It’s late December, which means it’s time for anyone with a Baseball Hall of Fame ballot to tweet it out, which means it’s time to count the voters not voting for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. You literally cannot write the history of baseball without those two guys.

• The Knicks have had a point guard problem for most of the last 30 years. Literally, three decades. At some point, they should deal with that through the draft and stop taking on rentals. Thirty years is a long time to not properly address one of the most-important positions on the floor.

• I went snowshoeing in Sundance over the weekend. It was awesome. I think I found an outdoor winter activity I actually enjoy. You couldn’t beat the solitude out there.

• “The Rose Bowl Game, But Not Really The Rose Bowl Game, But Just a Plain Ol’ National Semifinal at Jerry World” is going to be tough to fit on a t-shirt.