In the Locker Room with John Elrod, Sports Editor


Photo by Erin Koo, Photo Editor

John Elrod reminiscing about the Review.

Since 2021, John Elrod has worked as a Contributing Sports editor and Sports editor at the Review. His coverage has been dedicated to local sports — including his tribute to National Teacher of the Year Kurt Russell, a narrative about LeBron James’s journey from the perspective of a Northeast Ohio sports fan, and Oberlin’s own connection to the Cleveland Guardian’s name change. John will be greatly missed for his dry sense of humor, office art, and role in the Sports takeover at the Review. After graduating with a major in Communications, he hopes to continue working in sports journalism in some capacity.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

You talked about this in your last article, but coming back to Oberlin, what made you decide to go back into sports journalism, and what was your experience in literary journalism?

I’ve always felt this connection between media and sports, even as a little kid. But I think taking Literary Journalism with Visiting Assistant Professor of Writing and Communication Hal Sundt, OC ’12, was really about getting confidence as a writer. I wrote a baseball-related story for that class. The positive feedback from Hal, as well as just working in that class, inspired me to find another way to write. Naturally, I found out a way I could write about sports and the Review is the perfect place for it. 

Your first solo byline was about the Cleveland Guardians’ name change. Can you talk about the importance and the impact of that piece?

I don’t know where the idea came from, but I was aware of Oberlin City Schools’ name change that happened when I was a little kid. I figured out good people to talk to, and luckily Sundance was huge for driving that piece — talking about his experience as an activist with both Oberlin City Schools and Cleveland’s baseball team. It was super impactful because I’m a huge Cleveland baseball fan from Oberlin who went to the school, so there’s just a lot of connections there. 

Why do you think sports journalism is necessary, especially at Oberlin?

This definitely sounds cliché, but sports are a microcosm of society. It’s a lot more than about the wins and losses, the points on the scoreboard. There’s a lot of social stuff that goes on, and I think covering sports provides a great way to bring up those issues and talk about how we can make change, make things better, not just within the sports themselves but the community that they’re happening in.

At Oberlin, people are definitely not afraid to talk about change, progressivism, and looking for ways to improve and be inclusive of a lot of different things. I think we’ve done a good job as a Sports section during my time here not being afraid to talk about those issues and even having some hard conversations and interviews. 

What does the Review mean to you, and what has it taught you about yourself?

I don’t know what it means to me, but what I can say is I felt like it’s a unique workplace. It’s an incredible group of college students. It’s professional, but it’s also fun. People aren’t taking themselves too seriously, but seriously enough to do some really good journalistic work. I’m not really anticipating finding another workplace like this. I’m always gonna look back on that positively. It also goes without being said, but it’s a huge career jumpstarter, too. I feel like I have a lot of work under my belt now, and it was a great place to get that start. 

The Review gave me a bit of a purpose, being a part of a greater thing. We were all contributing not just to our articles, but, as an editor, a whole section. It showed me that I can really be a part of the team. I’m definitely the type to want to do work very independently, and so I think I really learned how to work as a group.

What’s been your favorite memory so far working here?

There’s a lot of good ones. Even just the last Thursday night of production was super fun. I usually go home early on Thursdays, but I decided to stay longer and just savor some of those last office conversations. That’s the thing that sticks in my mind that happened recently, at least.

Do you have any advice for future sports editors?

Continue to be unafraid to tackle tough issues. I think when people start to question, “Why do we have a Sports section? Who cares about this?” keep talking about social issues and go in those directions and do digging to find stories that are about greater issues than just the games themselves.