This opener stopped me. And since it appears in the Columbia Journalism Review (online) I call Copyeditor, Stat on this one*:
What the author really means is “my first encounters with journalism were the same as the first encounters experienced by most American males”—which would, of course, be a hopelessly and unforgivably clunky construction.
How about: “Like most American males, I first encountered journalism through the sports pages.” [Query: is that generalization supportable?]
Or, if the lead-in + colon + payoff construction is what the author is aiming for, how about: “I first encountered journalism the way most American males do: through the sports pages.”
Either choice would also save the sentence from the phrase “encounters with journalism,” which sounds like the title of an academic panel.
*Need I even say that I’ve written plenty of lines equally deserving of the copyeditor call? Writing is a journey never completed, a calling never mastered. Also, by the time you’ve finished laboring over a piece for hours on end, the entire Gettysburg Address and Jimmy Hoffa to boot could be buried in the middle of it and you wouldn’t notice. (A.K.A. Muphry’s Law: “Muphry’s Law also dictates that, if a mistake is as plain as the nose on your face, everyone can see it but you.” No doubt just such a glaring error is somewhere in this post.
(Language Log has an entertaining post on Muphry’s Law.)