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Columbia Spectator Staff

Spec was often a frustrating place for me: There are an awful lot of people here who overestimate their intelligence or competence. While I'm sure it's no different in any group, college or otherwise, when you're in a leadership position, dealing with those people can be frustrating.

There are two main reasons why I stuck with Spec. First, covering men's basketball was just so damn fun—basketball is a great sport to watch and my interactions with the team were nothing but pleasant. Second, Eli Schultz, a fellow deputy sports editor and close personal friend since NSOP, convinced me to run for sports editor in 2013. His reasoning was that it'd be a lot of fun doing it together, and it wouldn't be as much work as it was for previous sports editors (dating back to at least 2010), since we'd make a great team. He was right.

For a long time, I wasn't quite sure why we got along—although we both love sports, we're radically different in many ways.

I think a major reason why (beyond my life-of-the-party, outgoing personality, and his, shall we say, opinions) is we're just majorly pissed off by incompetence and lack of self-awareness. Combined, these two traits are dangerous, especially if found in people occupying leadership positions. Fortunately, he's competent and self-aware, and I like to think I'm definitely the latter.

So here's my advice/plea to any current and future Speccies:

Shut up. Listen. Learn. You’re almost certainly incompetent in many respects; don’t get in the way of people who aren’t.

Blast Mozart in the office.

Don’t lose sight of what you’re doing. Spec isn’t a place you go to make a big difference. You do Spec to have fun. You don’t owe the organization anything, and what you’ve done, in most cases, is simply not very important in the grand scheme of things. Don’t get sucked in.

When you do write, turn things in on time. There’s no reason associate copy editors should be seeing the earliest stories of the day at 10 p.m. Keep everyone else happy, and they’ll keep you happy. Ahem.

If you Turkeyshoot unsuccessfully (as both Eli and I did), just know that my first piece of advice applies most of all to Turkeyshoot Board. There are always ways you can get involved without actually being on the masthead yourself. Just wait until the fall for a particularly prominent example.

Teach people how to do things, but don’t babysit them. Create a loose climate in which people can have fun (without the alcohol and Spec-cest Band-Aid) while being motivated to do better.

Blast Beethoven in the office.

But seriously, shut up. You won’t realize how little you know until you do. That applies to staffers at every level. Only speak when you have something valuable to say and you won’t piss off people who know more. Be careful not to overstep your bounds of competence or overestimate others’ and you’ll actually make Spectator a better, more efficient newspaper. It’ll also get people to actually respect your opinion—many of you talk way too much and people laugh at you behind your back. Sorry, it’s the truth.

Again, remember: You’re there to have fun. If you’re not having fun, leave.

Stick taps to Jim, Mrinal, Rebeka, Myles, and Alison for the mentorship.

Stick taps to Zach, Slau, Eli, Madeleine, Kelly, and the men's basketball team for helping make it a great 3.5 seasons on the best beat.

Stick taps to our great staff in Sports—Mad Dawg, Catie, Kelly, Dan, Kyle, Mollie, and everyone else. You're the real reason the section got back on track. Keep up the great work this year. Don't lose sight of the basics of sports writing and sabermetrics at large, and don't forget that you know what's best for the section much better than anyone outside it.

O.E.D. taps to Isaiah, Miranda, and (@)Emma for helping make sure my Tuesdays didn't suck. (Sorry, no stick taps since you're not in Sports.)

Handshakes to Design, Photo, and Copy in general for all the good work.

Stick taps to Laura, Alanna, Jim, Sam, and the other good, competent people I met through Spectator.

Stick tap and a handshake to Slau and Abby for letting Eli and me do our thing in peace, and again to Slau for providing a sportsaholic-friendly presence all those late nights.

Stick tap to Yasmin, the only person I've ever sleep-drunk-texted more than once and a precocious Eye sportswriter. I'll make sure you're on a sportscast one of these days.

Eli… ??? ???????? Thanks for doing most of the talking at almost every meeting and interview we had, and most of the "leadershipping," and most of the, well, other stuff, so I never had to.

And finally, thank God that I'm getting out of here after only four years.

Muneeb Alam is a senior at Columbia College majoring in astrophysics. He was an associate sports editor for the 136th volume, a deputy sports editor for the 137th volume, the sports editor for the 138th volume, and an associate copy editor for the 139th volume.

Senior Column Silence quiet incompetence