Let’s start with honesty. That is what we as journalists strive to find, yearn to convey, the mantra we are forced to adhere to, no?
The truth is, I have imagined many times what this would read like. This whole farewell column. The part where I say goodbye.
But as I sit here and try to craft the words on the page the composition is proving to be quite difficult.
How do you squeeze more than nine years of your life into a tidy narrative? How do you express an immeasurable amount of gratitude to a community that became a undeniable part of your makeup?
I can’t. Not to my complete satisfaction anyway.
I seriously thought going into this I could sit down and list (or attempt to) every human soul by name who has lent a helping hand or friendly smile or supportive word since my arrival in town nearly a decade ago. But that scroll would have turned out longer than the cast of the movie Gandhi.
Many of you may or may not recall (or even know) that I moved to Bowling Green in August of 2009 to help the Bowling Green Daily News with its coverage of prep sports. That’s an exhausting but fulfilling gig trying to keep tabs on at least 13 area high schools. From summer football practice in July to state baseball and softball tournaments in June and everything that comes in between you run yourself ragged trying to diligently and respectfully cover a high school sports scene that drives local coverage.
That job is obsolete without the help of hundreds – the assistant coach who texts or emails line scores for the next day’s paper, the volunteers in the press boxes who give you a little nugget on where the star athlete is going on a recruiting visit, the athletic director who brings you a chair and a folding table court side so you're able to cover the game all that much more easier.
Words cannot express how much those types of gestures mean.
I spent two years in that tempest of high school sports coverage and emerged in August of 2011 ready to cover Western Kentucky University athletics. And the beat immediately threw everything it had at me.
I watched Willie Taggart turn a hapless football program into winners, Ken McDonald get fired after losing a game in overtime while the opponent had six men on the court, the unlikeliest of conference tournament championship runs and a historic NCAA Tournament victory while sharing an arena with a sitting United States president and the prime minister of Great Britain. All that happened before WKU’s athletic director left for another school.
Um … that was just Year One.
Let us stop here. Because we began today’s lesson with the theme of honesty. And I must tell you, being full of the truth serum, that in these nine years that have gone by I have often looked for greener pastures.
My resume has slid across the desk of a number of sports offices across this country (that exact number will stay between me and my email outbox, by the way). No one, however, to my knowledge, until a couple weeks ago had ever given my credentials a serious look.
But life has a funny way of toying with your perception of what is disappointing and what is a success. Because while I longed for the opportunity to cover bigger events involving more recognizable programs or franchises in America’s bigger cities, life took her white glove off and smacked me around a few times.
Had I left Bowling Green much sooner I never meet the future Mrs. Bishop or my gem of a father-in-law. I never receive the amazing opportunity to work for WBKO-TV which helped expand my knowledge of sports journalism through a broadcast and digital scope. I’ve made lifelong friends and said goodbye to others who are no longer with us but are by no means any less present.
My beautiful son Iden is and always will be a Bowling Green native.
And, of course, I would have never been able to develop the treasured relationships that have forged as seasons have changed and games have been won and lost and venues moved from outdoor to indoor back to outdoor and we all did it all again and again and again and again some more.
So I guess what I hope you, the reader, the follower, the viewer, got from me during all this time was an understanding. An understanding that it was my duty to not only tell the story to the best of my ability but to tell the story behind the story and to do so from an objective chair. It’s all I ever tried to do and all I ever honestly, truthfully, wanted to do.
Now, throughout the course of all those stories and posts and updates and tweets, I know there have been disagreements. Some may have thought I was too negative at times, or not asking tough enough questions at others. Perhaps the news wasn’t breaking fast enough. Maybe an issue was covered too much and another not enough.
Many of you have also never quite forgiven me for stating from the outset that I wouldn’t be cheering for the home team. You wouldn’t see me dressed in red. I wouldn’t be waving a red towel. I've been paid to tell it like it is without the skew of favoritism.
But know this: Wherever this life takes me next and for as long as I’m able to have coherent thoughts course through my brain, there will indeed be a red towel present, a metaphorical cloth that I will hold dear.
I'll carry it with me for the city of Bowling Green. For southcentral Kentucky. For Western Kentucky University. For all of you. For everything you all mean to me.
That’s just me being honest.
— From the bottom of his heart, Chad Bishop, @MChadBishop on Twitter, thanks you