Rider sports media students cover NIT finals live at Madison Square Garden

Students gain real-world experience interviewing players and covering the game
Aimee LaBrie

For nine of the 11 students taking Professor Chuck Bausman's sports reporting class, the life of a sports journalist just got a whole lot more authentic. On Thursday, March 31, students boarded a train headed for Penn Station and made their way to the coveted "employees only" portion of Madison Square Garden. Rider had arranged for the students to be credentialed to cover the NIT final alongside professional journalists. 

Using their press passes, they ascended to the eight-floor press box to watch the George Washington University men's basketball team trounce Valpraraiso in the NIT finals. They were present not just to observe the action of the game, but also to record the event as one of many writing assignments meant to teach them how to capture the highs and lows of a fast-moving game like basketball. 

Bausman is no stranger to that challenge. As a longtime sports editor for the Philadelphia Daily News, he is a seasoned working professional who understands the importance of teaching students how to write about events accurately, descriptively and under deadline. Because of his well-known reputation as a sports journalist, he was asked to teach a class and proposed this new course. 

Bausman, who is retired from the paper but still stays active in the world of journalism, says, "I was anxious about getting out in front of the class, but it took about one class before I realized how energizing it was to interact with them and share knowledge of what it really takes to be a sports journalist."

Daniel Kingsley '17, a communications studies major, was blown away by the opportunity to ask questions after the game. "It forced me to get out of my comfort zone and to expand my experiences," he says. "Before this class, I was anxious about how I would ask questions or interview as a journalist. Now, especially after this experience, I feel much more confident."

Dr. A.J. Moore, an associate professor in the Department of Communication and Journalism, sees the students' attendance at the basketball game as part of the important work of training student journalists. "Having them attend and cover such a large event as the NIT Finals is what we envisioned when we created the sports media major," he says. 

On April 1, Rider's new sports media major was officially sent to the President's Council of the New Jersey Academic Issues Committee for review and is likely to be approved for the fall. 

"At Rider, we are accessible to large sports markets here and in New York and Philadelphia," Moore says. "We're even closer to the New Jersey Devils who we have an outstanding working relationship with for internships." 

Isabelle Cadavid Baron '18, a public relations and French double major, spotted the class when registering for spring courses and took it to sharpen her writing skills.  "I've learned a lot about sports and writing and particularly the ethics part of reporting," she says. "I had never been to a game in Madison Square Garden and it was incredible to be part of the event in that way." 

The trip to Madison Square Garden was the highlight of senior Samantha Reed's time at Rider. "As someone who doesn’t know a thing about sports, I was mildly terrified when I enrolled in a live sports reporting class," she says. "But, I reminded myself that I’m only as strong as my weakest asset, so I embarked on a journey of learning something I knew zero about. If for nothing else (though now there are multiple reasons why I love this course), I can at least say the class allowed me the most professional reporting experience I’ve had at Rider to date."

The course has focused on writing assignments as well as discussion around the ethics of journalism in general and sports writing in particular. The basketball game gave students a real taste of the behind-the-scenes action, and Bausman has another live sporting assignment left. "We're going to do one more live event," he says. "We'll go to a game, watch it and then they'll have about 45 minutes to file their stories."