Rookie Status

When I do something for the first time, there are so many little questions running through my head. Questions I assume have obvious answers, but because I’m doing whatever thing for the first time, I really don’t have a clue how to go about it. But worrying is useless, really. I learned on Sunday that if you have a question, ask. Otherwise, go about your business, and you’ll figure everything out…and know better for the second time you do the thing.

I went to my first WNBA game on Sunday, which was my first game in general as a member of the media. The New York Liberty hosted the Washington Mystics at Madison Square Garden. Before, during, and after the game I had a lot of questions running through my mind:

  1. How early should I arrive?
  2. Where do I get my press pass?
  3. Where do I enter the arena from?
  4. Where do I sit?
  5. Am I supposed to bring a laptop?
  6. Where will I pray Zuhr?
  7. Why didn’t I get that sheet all these other media people got?
  8. Do all these people know each other?
  9. Where am I interviewing the player afterward?
  10. How do I get to the locker room? Wow…am I allowed in the locker room?

They’re such rookie questions, honestly. But Alhamdulillah, everything worked out. I realized while somewhat aimlessly navigating the halls of Madison Square Garden I don’t need to put on a fake persona of “I’ve done this a million times.” There’s a way to be new at something, while still maintaining confidence.

I think mustering up the courage to ask the pros those seemingly obvious questions takes confidence. It’s a confidence in what you really are—new at this, but simultaneously willing and eager to learn the ropes.

Anyone and everyone I asked a question to that Sunday afternoon was really kind and helpful. To answer my questions above…

  1. I got to my seat an hour or so before tip off. People were there before me. People came after me. (Note to self: should’ve brought earbuds to attempt to drown out the music)
  2. When I entered the arena, same place where security checked the bags.
  3. 8th Ave entrance, and it’s labeled.
  4. Where every other member of the media sat. Behind and to the left of one of the hoops.
  5. Could’ve definitely brought a laptop. So many outlets to charge the thing.
  6. Apparently, in the empty radio press room.
  7. The person passing them out probably didn’t see you initially. You got the sheets after the other quarters.
  8. Maybe, it doesn’t matter.
  9. The locker room.
  10. Walked across the court, through the hallway, and accidentally ended up there prior to the rest of the media, which I probably wasn’t supposed to do…but oh well.

The details and resulting story from my interviews will be shared in the next month or so, God-willing. But one story I can share now is what happened when I walked out onto 8th Ave, before the game while the aforementioned questions were all still buzzing around in my head…

I exited Penn Station at 8th Ave, and I saw a big white tent. It’s pretty ironic I ended up giving a tiny bit of da’wah at said tent, as “the big white tent” is iconic of Rutgers MSA’s Islam Awareness Week. It seemed like a potential place to pray, so I asked the security guard at the tent if it was about to be used for anything. He explained MSG was a billion dollar industry and he’s guarding the expensive equipment inside. When I explained I only asked to see if it’d be possible to pray before the game I had to cover, I heard an “Aren’t there churches for that?”and a “What religion is that?” and also a “You’re a reporter?” It wasn’t anything to be bothered by at all, but I hope he went home after his double shift ended at midnight and did a little research on Islam to satisfy his curiosity…or rather, spark it some more.

I’ll sign off with some words my cousin texted me that evening when all was said and done: “You can’t expect yourself to know everything the first time you do it!”

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