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An innocent question from a not-so-innocent guy...

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by SuperflySnuka, Nov 30, 2006.

  1. Guys, I'm not trying to sound all high-and-mighty here. I respect most if not all of you for your opinions, and I've gotten great advice in the past.

    After reading some recent posts about career changes, career advice and "what's next," I realize my passion for sports is also waning. I used to devour information and stories and stats, but now I guess I'm sort of over it a little bit. Maybe fantasy sports have ruined it for me a bit, but really, I sort of just think my tastes have changed.

    I used to think I would give anything to be, say, the Cubs writer for the Sun-Times. But now that I really think about it, I think I'd rather write about a feature story about a guy who owns a pig rather than a dog, or about a local bar that's about to close, or about a challenged athletes marathon.

    I love being in a press box more than just about anything, but it is kind of wierd when my roommates turn on Sportscenter or Michigan-Ohio State, and I can't just sit and watch. At the very LEAST, I have to be doing something else, if not completely ignoring the game.

    Should I be applying for sports jobs even? My eventual goal is to be able to write as well about Bill Clinton as Bill Russell or as Bill Gates, preferably for one of the major mags, so where do I go from here?
  2. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member


    To be perfectly honest, if you were a sports writer more interested in finding stories like that and engaged in writing them, it sounds like you would be a very good sports writer.

    Look at Best American Sports Writing? How many of the stories included there come off covering a beat?

    We need people to cover the ins and outs and minutiae of a team. We also need people writing about people and things that matter and the unusual.

    Sports can be a version of Groundhog Day if you let it -- same types of stories year-in, year-out so folks need to have big eyes and fresh ideas to find new things.
  3. LazyReporter

    LazyReporter Member


    Ace is correct. There are beat writers, general assignment writers and columnists. Each has a purpose and is equally as valuable. It sounds like you might be wired as a general assignment writer. No shame there.

    If you're at a small shop, you could cross over and write about politics, sports, business...whatever. If you're at a place where the lines are dinstinct and you are relegated to sports only, you can find plenty of stories that don't have anything to do with stats or sprained ankles.

    You don't have to have a passion for sports to be a good general assignment sports writer. Writing takeout features and enterprise requires a passion for reporting, writing, people and society. If your passion for those things begins to wane, then it might be time to consider a career change.
  4. Kaylee

    Kaylee Member

    I wish there were more like you, Ace. Especially in the leadership positions.

    A good sports department, I think, takes all kinds. You need your stat guru who likes nothing more than going through nominations for the All-Area prep football team. You need your beat guy who likes the day-in, day-out, if-I-don't-beat-this-guy-I'm-fired mentality. You need someone to write the heartfelt feature about the gymnast born without a colon, and you need someone to FOI the entire known universe to find out that Coach Spitcup is recruiting players to Big City High.

    The one thing I think sports departments lack is the guy who goes home and doesn't immediately turn on ESPN. It's amazing how becoming more worldly helps you actually become a better writer. Pick up a copy of any anthology of great sports writing, and you'll notice these guys didn't spend a lot of time surfing espn.com in their free moments.

    Sports departments, sadly, tend not to nurture this kind of "oddball" behavior.
  5. Mighty_Wingman

    Mighty_Wingman Active Member

    This is all really good advice. But let's not get too caught up in the good feelings and so forth.

    The fact is writing long features and enterprise and generally telling stories is a good thing, and an asset for a sports section. If you're just asking "Do I have a future in journalism if covering games isn't the highlight of my life," then the answer is obviously yes.

    But especially if you're young and especially if you're working at a smaller paper, takeouts and the like aren't going to be the day-to-day job. Odds are, you're going to have to cover preps, or bust your ass on a college beat or the like, for some time before you find a GA job like the one we're talking about on this thread.

    And I'm not saying this to be bitter, by any means. I'm just saying if sports is totally unpalatable for you, don't believe that becoming a full-time sports features writer -- or working for a major mag -- is as easily done as said.
  6. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    Yeah, but as long as you are willing to grind through a high school notebook or two but get enthused about the chance to do the colon-less gymnast you will be fine.
  7. Kaylee

    Kaylee Member

    I'm certainly not one to make sweeping statements about what makes ones career and abilities take off.

    But I'll go ahead and posit that anyone with a I-won't-do-it distaste for grind work won't have the concerns of Mr. Superfly. Primarily because getting into this business is like trying to cram an overweight relative into your 1991 Ford Escort. Simply getting a chance to get in and do the grunt stuff is accomplishment enough. Anyone whining about that is likely to be asked to graze on another pasture.

    The best apply their best to everything. There's nothing wrong with figuring out what your niche would be along the way.
  8. Mighty_Wingman

    Mighty_Wingman Active Member

    I agree.

    Just wanted to make sure this thread wasn't all about that no-colon gymnast...somebody should mention all the 12-inch sidebars most folks have to do in between crippled athletes.
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