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Parting is such sweet sorrow

Thanks for attending the first press conference of my life in which I will be the one answering all the questions.

I will read a brief statement and then open the floor to any questions you may have.

I am here today to announce my retirement from sports journalism. It is a bittersweet occasion for me, although I have no doubt it is a joyous occasion for those who have criticized my work over the years.

As I've considered this important decision over the course of the past several months, many have asked why I would give up the craft of writing.

It's plain and simple: I want to go out on top. I think everyone who reads my columns and stories would acknowledge that I've really hit my stride as a writer over the past year. In the fall, I was recognized by the Associated Collegiate Press as the third-best reporter in all of college journalism. Every time I write something new and brilliant, not only does everyone on campus read what I have to say, but thousands of others flock to the Chronicle's website to check out my latest gem. So in an effort to leave at the pinnacle of my game, I'm hanging up my flip flops and sweat pants.

Before I take questions, I'd like to thank a few people. First and foremost, my family. My parents and my two brothers were loyal fans of my work long before I became a star. By the way, if you've ever noticed a comment by "Brad Weathersby" below any of my stories online, it's actually my kid brother using a pseudonym to try to build up my hype. Second, my co-workers at The Chronicle. A mentor at the newspaper once told me that writers need a delicate balance struck between having their egos stroked and their chops busted. In reading this column, you might believe they haven't busted my chops enough, but believe me, they have. Finally, what would a sports press conference be without the star thanking God? So thanks to my Lord and Savior for making me a better college reporter than all but two people in America.

Now I'll take your questions.

Greg, is it weird for you to finally be the center of attention?

Yes, it's a little bit strange. But boy is it wonderful. All these years I've been detailing the exploits of others, and now the lens is on me. Give me a few moments while I bask in the glow of the spotlight. OK, done.

Why did you go into journalism in the first place?

My entrance into journalism came as a direct result of the end of my athletic career. My senior year of high school, I participated in a baseball scouting showcase along with 100 other players in New York City's Public Schools Athletic League. After I ran the 60-yard dash, a murmur arose from the crowd of college and pro scouts, each of them wielding clipboards and stopwatches. "Was my time that good?" I asked one of them. Looking down at his clipboard that contained all of my vital information, he chuckled and said: "No, but that SAT score is just about twice everyone else's here." If I hadn't admitted it to myself yet, it was then that I knew my future was more likely to be determined by my academic rather than athletic pursuits. As it turns out, I'm probably better at writing about sports than I was playing them. Go figure.

Couldn't you have put your spare time in college to better use?

Honestly, I doubt it. I guess I could have gotten into really good shape, pursued a 4.0 GPA or even gotten drunk more often. But that would have been a lot less fun and not nearly as rewarding.

What is your favorite memory from a story you covered?

There are a lot, but far and away the most exciting game I sat press row for was the home basketball game against Virginia Tech December of my sophomore year. That game, of course, was the one in which Duke squandered a lead coming down the stretch only to have Sean Dockery sink a 40-footer at the buzzer to save the victory. As the shot went in, I could feel the rush of fans behind me about to pour onto the court. Hoping to not to get trampled, I sprinted out toward media room, which has its entrance right next to the hallway that leads to Duke's locker room. Outside of that door, assistant coach Steve Wojciechowski was high-fiving everyone that walked by. I got caught up in the moment and even my best instincts of journalistic impartiality couldn't stop me. I slapped Wojo's hand, and went to work on my story. What a moment.

What will you miss the most?

I'll miss the ability to pull together information and interviews and tell compelling stories that might never otherwise be told. Covering games such as the Dock Shot is exciting, but the end product you produce as a journalist isn't really that much different than the stories cranked out by the 50 other writers at the game. You can always enjoy those special sports moments as a fan, anyway. There's much more pride involved in the production of a unique story. All jokes aside, it's extremely rewarding when you see people reading your work and hear them discussing it. Several times I've been contacted-called, e-mailed, shouted at across the quad-with people who agreed or disagreed with something I wrote, engaging me in further discussion that could not fit in newsprint. That's how you know you've made an impact.

Do you have any serious reasons for leaving this profession?

I thought I could get out of here without answering that question, but I'll give it a shot. I have a lot of reservations about the profession in general, as well as my particular role in it.

It's no secret that journalism as we know it is changing; print publications are dying, and the traditional media companies are struggling to cope with declining market share and profits. As companies search for answers, they have emphasized entertainment and unconfirmed rumors over storytelling and reporting. Meanwhile, these same companies have decided that the best way to dig themselves out of the grave is to cut costs on the personnel side. Every week there are announcements of some of the most talented people in the business being fired or bought out. And on the entry level, the companies give so little in terms of compensation and job security, treating their most important production input as if it has no value at all. And they wonder why top college talent is pursuing other careers, and they wonder why they are going out of business.

For me personally, I also think there's something to be said for sports as a diversion instead of a profession. It sounds like it's really cool to get paid to read all day or to sit at a ballpark and write about the game. But when you do it for a living, what do you do to get away? Unless, of course, you really like to collect stamps. Sports are meant to be a distraction, and when they become your job, you not only begin to know too much about the people you once admired but you also begin to resent what used to be one of your favorite releases from the rest of the world.

Do you have anything to say to your critics?

I could have spent my last column attacking the people who have made a point of demeaning my efforts as a journalist-a list that would span the spectrum from a message board poster named "Jumbo" to a coach named Mike Krzyzewski. But all I can say to them is this: if you were reading, I know I was doing something right.

So is this really it? Can you say definitively that you'll never make a comeback?

I'd be lying if I said that part of me didn't want to keep writing. There's something about journalism-I think most of all that it provides a platform for my curiosity-that's addicting. But for now, I have no plans.

So is that 100 percent?

99.9 percent, I swear.


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