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Bruins in Paris

Learning how to describe the ineffable during my time in Daily Bruin Sports -30-

Jon Christon stands for a portrait. (Joseph Jimenez/Photo editor)

By Jon Christon

June 11, 2023 10:04 p.m.

I want to share with you something I wrote on my Daily Bruin intern application in the fall of my first year – updated for our style and guidelines, of course.

“I write this sitting at my desk in my dorm, the same desk where mere hours ago I watched my (Milwaukee) Brewers lose the National League Wild Card game in excruciatingly heartbreaking fashion.

“I am sad, first and foremost, as well as angry and a bit heartbroken; I may have even thought about shedding a few tears after the ball rolled under Trent Grisham’s glove. My heart dropped, and my whole day was ruined.

“After a walk down Bruin Walk to calm myself, I began to think to myself, ‘It’s just a game, why are you upset?’

“I try to tell myself this whenever I sense myself getting upset after one of my teams loses, but after reflection, it’s completely wrong.

“This wasn’t just a game, and it never is.

“If sports can make me feel this strong sensation of emotions, even if they are negative, they must mean something. …

“I’ve known for a while that writing about sports would help me fulfill multiple passions of mine, but I never knew how to express it until now.

“This question was the hardest on the application for me; I could’ve chosen a million things to write about, yet ironically enough, it took my favorite team losing to figure out how to verbalize why sports are so important for me.

“Anything that produces these emotions is a result of something important. Anything this important is worth sharing, and joining Daily Bruin Sports would be the perfect start for me as I attempt to share these emotions through sports.”

The question was simply, “Why do you want to join Daily Bruin Sports?”

Suffice to say, I had a flair for the dramatic. All that over a Wild Card game?

But I stand by what I wrote – sports do, indeed, kick ass.

They are an art form, open for interpretation by the participant and viewer alike. Simultaneously cathartic and infuriating; mesmerizing and dull; extraordinarily technical and mind-numbingly simple – sports draw us closer to our deepest, most primal feelings than anything else.

Finding a way to creatively channel those feelings into writing was why I joined The Bruin in the first place, and what came next could not have been more fulfilling.

Agony, elation and everything in between – that’s what I witnessed firsthand the past four years.

I sat courtside as Julian Strawther ended a magical UCLA men’s basketball season with an all-time March Madness shot. I was in the press box when UCLA football’s Dorian Thompson-Robinson finally – and I mean finally – hurdled the naysayers with a statement performance at USC, only to leave his home field in tears in the same matchup a year later. I watched as UCLA women’s basketball coach Cori Close sat in an empty room, crying into a Zoom screen as she said goodbye to Michaela Onyenwere after the senior’s final game.

Sports wouldn’t be sports without moments like these. The Bruin gave me a front-row seat and a medium to work through these deeply human emotions, and it changed me for the better.

I truly don’t know who – or what – I would be without all of this. I am a fundamentally different person now than I was the fall of my freshman year.

Case in point: I didn’t end up using the answer on my application I shared earlier. Instead, it lay dormant in my Google Docs ever since I wrote it, too personal to share with a group of strangers. I was scared to come out of my shell.

But what I didn’t know was that the Daily Bruin would force me to do just that.

The paper gave me a community – a space where I felt encouraged to step out of my comfort zone, try new things and, ultimately, make new friends. As someone who entered the office in Kerckhoff 118 for the first time as a lonely and introverted freshman, that meant everything.

If I listed every person who helped me in that process, this column would exceed the bounds of even our largest print editions. So, I’ll keep this brief.

Sam Connon, Coral Smith, Jacqueline Dzwonczyk, Jared Tay and Jason Maikis – thank you for welcoming me into the paper and connecting me as the last vestige of a pre-COVID era.

Jack Perez, Kyle Boal, Michael Waldman and Taiyo Keilin – thank you guys for giving me friends during the most isolating year I can remember. I already miss our endless Slack conversations about anything and everything.

Bryan Palmero, Francis Moon and Olivia Simons – thank you for trusting me as I meandered my way through my first real leadership position of any kind. I am endlessly proud of what you all have accomplished, and I will be your No. 1 supporter in whatever you pursue next.

Sam Settleman – where do I even start with this one? Our paths have been so ridiculously intertwined the past three years, and it’s hard to put into words what that’s meant to me. Simply, thank you for always being by my side.

And to anybody else who helped me out of my shell – all the people who I crossed paths with in any section meeting, social, road trip, press box, late-night print excursion, Blood Bowl victory, random Slack channel (fourth all-time in company Slacks, baby) or anywhere else in between – thank you. You know who you are.

Thank you, Daily Bruin. For everything.

Christon was a Sports contributor and reporter 2019-2020, assistant Sports editor 2020-2021, Sports editor 2021-2022 and Sports senior staff 2022-2023.

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Jon Christon | Sports senior staff
Christon is currently a Sports senior staff writer. He was previously the Sports editor on the men's basketball and football beats and the assistant Sports editor on the women's basketball, softball, men's tennis and women's tennis beats. Christon was previously a contributor on the women's basketball and softball beats.
Christon is currently a Sports senior staff writer. He was previously the Sports editor on the men's basketball and football beats and the assistant Sports editor on the women's basketball, softball, men's tennis and women's tennis beats. Christon was previously a contributor on the women's basketball and softball beats.
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