Alumni Perspective: Northwestern’s D.C. journalists leave press box behind at Big Ten Tournament

Christine Brennan

Men’s Basketball

We were scattered across several sections of the Verizon Center on Thursday and Friday night in Washington, D.C., journalists who would otherwise be confined to the press box or a TV booth, but not on these two nights.

At the Big Ten men’s basketball tournament, as at all sporting events, there would of course be no cheering in the press box — so we wouldn’t be in the press box, because there just had to be cheering. This season of all seasons, there would be cheering.

At the start of the Northwestern-Rutgers game, I was sitting with the Medill classmate I met first day of freshman year, ESPN’s Michael Wilbon. How many dozens of NU sporting events had we witnessed side-by-side over the past four decades? Football, lacrosse, men’s and women’s hoops, you name it. But had there ever been an event that was more hard-earned and uplifting than this one?

Later I joined my family not far from the NU bench. A few rows away was NBC’s Peter Alexander. Not far from him was CNN’s David Chalian. ESPN’s Kevin Blackistone was just beyond him.

We were all wearing purple, of course. The Chicago Tribune’s Teddy Greenstein and Big Ten Network’s Dave Revsine were there too, actually working on press row, but they broke away to appear in an NU alum group photo.

You know what a certain man living and working a few blocks away at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. would call all of us? The enemy of the people.

Well, over these two nights, we were simply the enemy of Rutgers and Maryland.

The easy victory over Rutgers led to a matchup with Maryland the next night. Did we dare to dream of another victory? We did, and it happened.

And now it’s March Madness, with something even greater awaiting this week. At Northwestern, this never happens to us. Until it just did.

Christine Brennan (Medill ’80, ’81) is a former Daily managing editor. She is a sports columnist and commentator for USA Today, ABC News, CNN and NPR, and serves on Northwestern’s Board of Trustees.