Isaac Karp, the Daily's executive sports editor sat down with several of his predecessors to discuss all things sports writing and Tufts' sports culture.
Ananda Kao, the Daily's executive sports editor for the fall 2021 semester, is a senior on the women's lacrosse team. She also founded Morgan's Message, a club focused on mental health in athletics, and is a part of the Athletes of Color Club. Kao has written for the Daily since her sophomore year and has spent time as an assistant sports editor and sports editor before becoming the section's executive editor.
Isaac Karp (IK): What originally brought you to the Daily?
Ananda Kao (AK): I was part of my high school newspaper, called The Phillipian. I also was a part of the sports section there. One of my friends got me into writing. I think also, probably my sophomore year in high school, I kind of climbed the ranks, like I did at the Daily, and was part of the managing board in the end ... I saw joining the Daily as a kind of parallel to still being able to pursue this interest and passion of mine [while] being able to still pursue other things academically ... I think at Tufts, it's definitely been a cool outlet or angle for me to be able to talk to different coaches and different players that maybe I'm friends with, or maybe I know through my team. Being able to speak with them and cover certain stories that I normally wouldn't read or would see out there, just [by] being an athlete here.
IK: One thing I was thinking about was — especially for younger writers — when they interview athletes or interview coaches, I think they have a difficult time getting comfortable or feeling like they can be themselves. What would you recommend, for younger writers, on how to talk to athletes in interviews?
AK: As a writer [who is] interviewing someone, keep in mind and keep perspective that these athletes are just like you. Going into it in more of the mindset [that] this is a fellow classmate, rather than, "This is some big athlete," because we're all at Tufts, we’re Division III. The Tufts community is pretty small compared to other schools.
IK: Even though the Tufts community is small, it's bigger than a lot of high schools, but a lot of those high schools still have more energy or more school spirit. Why do you think Tufts is so limited in that realm and also what do you think is a possible solution to increase school spirit?
AK: I'm honestly not really sure why our games don't get as many fans … Maybe athletics just doesn't get as much advertisement, or people just go to the games when it's convenient for them, rather than them feeling invested. I don't know if that's something with social media. I [also] know that there is a divide at Tufts in general between athletes and nonathletes, and so maybe it has something to do with that.
IK: You've been at the highest level in the sports section. What do you think is one thing that you would change [about the Daily], and how would you go about that?
AK: Something that both of us have focused on and [something] the Daily is starting to [focus on] as a whole is the whole social media aspect of [journalism]. I think that's a way to get people more engaged and interacting and wanting to be a part of it, if they see super cool content coming out on social media. I think that's just an easier way to reach students, especially of the generations that are coming in, like the freshmen and sophomores and people to come in the future. I think that's a really important platform to be able to utilize.
IK: Is there anything else you want to add about anything related to the sports section or to the Daily in general?
AK: I think that the sports section and sports writing is really unique in the sense that we have such a focus, but also such a wide variety of articles in our section, ranging from the game recaps, which are more of your typical reporting, to profiles and features that are more [of a] deep dive — almost investigative-type pieces — and also columns.
Alex Sharp, a junior, served as executive sports editor in spring 2021. Sharp has also written a column, covered the men's basketball beat and served as an assistant sports editor and sports editor. He has also written for The Provincetown Independent and The Student Dispatch, a newspaper run by Associate Professor of Political Science Eitan Hersh.
IK: What attracted you to the Daily in the first place?
Alex Sharp (AS): I just love sports. [I am a] washed up high school athlete. I like to write … I was interested in just the sports section because [sports] is a fun thing to write about. I think there's just some really special things about sports. I'd say in my 21 years, the purest forms of the human spirit seen have been in competition. I think the purest form of the human spirit is in competition. I think sports can be a microcosm for life in a lot of ways. The relationships you see, the failures, the successes, the funny moments that happen.
IK: During your time with the Daily, you were a columnist, an editor and you've been an exec. You've basically covered all facets of the Daily during your time. What was the most enjoyable part for you, did you like being [executive sports editor] the most? Or did you like being a columnist the most? And why?
AS: I really enjoyed being an exec, because I had a great squad, a great team underneath me, probably the best in recent memory, and it was just fun to work with everyone. I think, really what sports writing should be, and what the sports section of the Daily should be, is kind of an extension of just talking sports, like you would at a barber shop or a bar, just with your buddies. I think that's kind of what it was for me with the section, and I enjoyed working with them all. I enjoyed going into battle for them all, when I had to. It was fun to kind of be guiding the direction of the section. It was fun to be a part of sports coming back to Tufts, which was a big thing for the community, I think a big thing for the athletic community in particular, and kind of a sign of leaving [COVID-19] behind.
IK: If you could do one thing to increase [the sports] fandom here, what would you do, and how would you go about it?
AS: I think we have a lot of athletes on campus because we have a small school with a lot of sports teams. But then the nonathletes generally aren't as engaged in sports as they would be at a bigger school, like a state school, which is not necessarily a terrible thing. We have a lot of kids that really focus on their academics. I think the role of the Daily sports section should be really to create fun content surrounding our sports, and a pitfall that could happen in the sports section is just taking itself too seriously ... Then as a school, just building a culture, someone’s got to start it … Someone's got to start a student section and just kind of get it going, I think, … get to some of these games because they can be exciting. I'm sure a lot of kids here went to high schools where there were electric atmospheres at their basketball games or football games. I don't see why we couldn't replicate that at a DIII school.
Editor's note: This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.