An excerpt of my latest column for Poynter:
For the bulk of his professional life, Jeff Bradley has spent his summers at a Major League ballpark. He had high-profile beats covering baseball for ESPN The Magazine and the Newark Star-Ledger.
But last summer was different. Struggling to make ends meet ever since being let go by the Star-Ledger in Jan., 2013, Bradley worked as a clubhouse attendant at a country club near his home in New Jersey. He shined shoes, vacuumed the carpet and kept the bathrooms clean.
Bradley likely is the only clubhouse attendant who also has written about Derek Jeter for national publications. A few times, Bradley was mistaken for being a member. On other occasions, he ran into people who knew him as “the sportswriter,” prompting the inevitable questions of what happened?
“Sure, it was embarrassing sometimes,” Bradley said. “But most people, if they have heart, say, ‘I respect what you’re doing. You’re doing what you’ve got to do [for your family].”
Bradley decided to write about his situation on his website last week. In a phone interview, he said he didn’t rehash the frustrations and hardships he has endured so “people could feel sorry for me.”
“I just felt like this is what has come to for a lot of people who used to work as journalists,” said Bradley, whose resume also includes stints at Sports Illustrated and the New York Daily News.
Indeed, the comments to Bradley’s post depict a depressing snapshot of an industry where long-time sportswriters find themselves in no-man’s land. Several veterans commiserated with Bradley by sharing similar experiences after being jettisoned from their jobs.
Rachel Shuster, formerly of USA Today, writes: “I drive for Uber, where if I happen to mention, no, this is not my life’s dream.”
Diane Pucin, formerly of the Los Angeles Times, writes: “This is pretty much my story…Even been rejected for a grocery store checked out job.”