Q&A with Amy Moritz
Sportswriter, fan, and, finally, athlete
Photo by Nancy J. Parisi
Lockport native Amy Moritz is, at this writing, the only woman on the sportswriting team at the Buffalo News, a job she’s held for nearly two decades. You’d think she’d have some company. As a past president of the Association for Women in Sports Media, Moritz has plenty of female colleagues in sports television. In print, however, parity progress is glacial.
A lifelong fan of Western New York sports teams, Moritz loves her work. The St. Bonaventure journalism grad cut her sportswriting teeth as a student at Lockport High, where a teacher, noting her interest in both sports and writing, asked her to help with game stats for the Lockport Union Sun and Journal. Earlier, in her middle-school days, Moritz had become fascinated by the coverage of the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. At Bona, she covered the men’s basketball team, traveling along on the team bus. Post-graduation, Moritz was hired by the Times-Herald and ended up working in its sports department. In 1995, she joined the News, where she is now the primary writer covering the Buffalo Bisons, in addition to working on Sabres coverage, and, most recently, taking over the running column.
You said you were never an athlete, always a fan, but you’ve written a book on running.
It’s called I Thought You’d Be Faster: The Quest to Become an Athlete (available on Amazon)—which is what someone actually said to me. I’ve always been active, but never thought of myself as an athlete. About ten years ago, I decided to train for a triathlon, which involves running, biking, and swimming. I was really starting from scratch on that last piece—I had to take adult swim lessons. Well, I finished it—my first triathlon—and what I discovered was that I really enjoyed the running. The book, including interviews with other runners, is a memoir of how I became an athlete. Now, I run five or six days a week, early mornings in just about any weather, as long as it’s above twenty degrees. Otherwise, I’m on a treadmill.
In two decades, you must have seen some changes in your profession.
Proliferation of social media means we get to interact very quickly with readers, which is good and bad. I remember early days covering women’s basketball games where we’d routinely note attendance, usually low, and some guy would email, “Why do you even cover this? I don’t watch it.” Now, it’s much more popular. I covered the UB women’s basketball playoff run this past spring, so exhilarating, but exhausting to be on the road like that. It’s not all glamour. [There is] no time for laundry; I had to go out and buy underwear. But, it’s great to see more women in sports. Now, I get complaints on Twitter that we’re not giving enough coverage to a team like the Buffalo Beauts (women’s hockey)! And I have never had any major problems [with sexual harassment]. A big difference today is a lot of the major professional athletes are young guys who’ve grown up with women playing sports, or who have sisters who are also outstanding athletes. And they’ve grown up with women covering sports for the media.
Sounds like a better world.
Yes, and no: social media changes your workflow, for sure. It’s harder. It can be fun to interact so quickly with others, but it can also be a burden, one more piece of the puzzle that is sports reporting today. What I love best is getting to talk to people, to hear their stories, and then tell them. I often have that opportunity covering the Bisons; these are young prospects or older guys coming back. Covering sports can often feel like a daily grind, but there are stories out there that fuel me. Look, we all know that pro athletes are huge moneymakers; professional sports is big business. But the sports world also holds so many human stories, from comeback to redemption, all the passion and dreams that fuel and feed you. It is an art form, it is entertainment. If I could just magic-wand change anything in my profession, there would be more diversity in newsrooms and decision-making positions—more women, people of color, differently abled people.
What might folks be surprised to learn about you?
How passionate I am about volunteering in the community. It really helps to develop that empathy muscle. After the last presidential election, I decided it was time to give some time. I volunteer at Community Missions in Niagara Falls, which includes a soup kitchen, food pantry, and clothing closet. Also, no surprise to some, I am not a fan of golf.
What makes an athlete: on getting started
1. Forget statistics and other numeric expectations: try embracing the life-affirming achievement of learning to be braver and stronger, physically and mentally.
2. Check your own self-talk. “I’m athletic, but not an athlete.” “I’m not as good as _______.” Don’t downplay your accomplishments. Negative voices are out there; you needn’t join that chorus.
3. Take heart from the experiences of elites. Even Olympic gold medalists, as Moritz discovered in interviewing top women athletes, sometimes doubt their legitimate claim as athletes.
4. Remember a kid’s joy in running, playing outside, just embracing new adventures. Where did that go? Find it again.
5. Just do it, really. Register for a race—it will help structure your training, and get you moving on days when you would really rather skip a run. Maybe you’ll finish; maybe you won’t. It’s your feat, no matter how it may look to anyone else. As Moritz says, “I am the only one who gets to decide who I am.”