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column for review - first half

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by DMS, Jan 12, 2007.

  1. DMS

    DMS New Member


    All Hail the J-Mac Daddy

    Some stories seem to never die. But some you hope will live on and on and on.

    You know they are not too good to be true because they happened. You know they happened because you watched. You felt it.

    J-Mac lives.

    It's been months since The Game and weeks since the ESPYs, but who among us doesn't smile at the mere mention of the story?

    So if for no other reason than that, read on.

    Jason McElwain won the ESPY award for "Best Moment." To describe what J-Mac accomplished on that magical night in February as the best sports moment is the Biggest Understatement.

    J-Mac nailed the award like he did those six threes -- he scored 20 points in four minutes -- and stole the show.

    It's the only reason I watched the ESPYs. I watched to see him receive an award I already knew he won.

    To give you an idea of where this story ranked, consider this: a taped J-Mac beat out a (relatively) live Johnny Drama on that Sunday night. Enough said.

    With the wind blowing out at Wrigley and a total mismatch on tap for Sunday Night Baseball, which preceded the show, I sensed a long night of waiting until the ESPYs started. But I didn't care. J-Mac waited all season for four minutes.

    ESPN could have played the entire show during the sixth inning of that game, in which the Mets made an early run at next year's Best Inning award with three HRs, two of which were grand slams.

    The story of J-Mac is like SportsCenter's "My Wish" series on steroids; it's feel-good to the nth degree.

    No, the story is not news. Yes, it received its fair share -- and then some -- of media play when it happened. But when a story literally makes you feel good, you find yourself looking for anything on it because of how it warms your heart.

    Consider yourself warmed.
  2. DMS

    DMS New Member

    Re: column for review - second half


    If Zidane is still revered in France after what he did, J-Mac should be a straight-up god.

    On a night full of superstar athletes, an autistic boy dominated like none of them ever have. J-Mac captured the public's collective heart. Just when you thought the story had gone the way of Danny Almonte and Jeffrey Maher, the ESPYs came along.

    Thank you, ESPN.

    Yes, there is nothing new you'll read here about what happened. No new twist. No quotes from backstage. No review of worst dressed at the ESPYs (ok, fine, just one: Matthew McConaughey looked like he was either coming or going to one of his naked bongo sessions) or list of most pimped-out (ok, fine, D-Wade, Vince Young and Lebron tied for first)

    Yes, I have a connection.

    My niece is autistic.

    I help my brother with Rachel. She is five years old, falls right in the middle of the autism spectrum, and requires constant attention from at least one adult.

    I asked my brother David if he could imagine being J-Mac's parent in the crowd as they announced his name as the winner. He paused -- not because he was deciding on an answer but rather because the question undoubtedly made him think of his daughter -- before firmly shaking his head no.

    What about the impact J-Mac has had on the autistic community and -- maybe even more importantly -- the way society looks at autism?

    "You have no idea," said David, whose Chicago-based Autism Legislation Project focuses on research and education pertaining to the legislative aspects of the disorder. "Even though what happened will surely cause some people to naively think that all autistic children are capable of doing what Jason McElwain did, it still was and is a great thing."

    My girlfriend, in an attempt to cheer me up after my grandmother passed earlier in the day on that Sunday, said, "Go watch some good TV." Good TV is any episode of Cheers that deals with Gary's Old Towne Tavern; great TV was Jason McElwain winning the award.

    But the can't-miss moment was not his reaction, but rather his walk up to the stage, as he hugged it out with some NBA superstars. J-Mac was one of them on this night, a baller kickin' it at an awards show.

    Scott Van Pelt said on last SportsCenter after the show that the J-Mac story was the "coolest thing I've ever seen." I agree, but when Rachel scored her first goal in soccer was a close second.
  3. huntsie

    huntsie Active Member

    Great column! Warm and fuzzy, personal, funny in places.Well done. You hit all the right chords.
  4. friend of the friendless

    friend of the friendless Active Member

    Mr S,

    Much to like, but a couple of things I don't like.

    "straight-up god" ... "hero" is fine, "god" not ... it's a trifle rich ... I suppose that gods and God don't require a modifier ... "a qualified god" as opposed to a "straight-up deity"? Can't see it.

    "feel-good to the nth degree" ... again, just the phrasing, has the ring of journo-patter

    A very rich personal connection is buried under all this over-done icing. I wish you had gotten to the niece earlier. I wish you had given us a bit more of her story. For all the times we see the J-Mac clip, how much do we know about his life day-to-day, his life in school, at home or whatever? Your niece's story might not be the same or necessarily even comparable but, then again, many people's awareness of autism goes as far as J-Mac knocking down threes and no farther.

    Sidenote: I've thought the kid who deserves Co-Sportsman of the Year or some sort of nod was the kid who "guarded" J-Mac. Ole.

    YHS, etc
  5. I think this would have been much better, frankly, had you mentioned your autistic niece much, much higher than two-thirds of the way through the column. She provided you with the personal angle that gave you a connection to J-Mac -- and the reason for you to write the column, which took on a significantly different meaning from then on.

    I think J-Mac was inspirational to a lot of people for the same reasons, but the personal slant of the column made it unique. Maybe you didn't want to make a huge deal out of your niece's condition, but you probably wouldn't have written it if not for her. The end of it is good, but had her mentioned her higher, the entire column would have worked much better.
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