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ESPN piece on the death of Jason Rabedeaux

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by Dick Whitman, Apr 13, 2015.

  1. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    Former UTEP coach was coaching in Vietnam.

    Like a lot of Wright Thompson stories, setting/place is a second protagonist in this one:

    Former UTEP coach Jason Rabedeaux's death remains a mystery

    It's extremely long, extremely good, and I'm not admittedly done with it yet, but figured it would be good fodder for discussion about feature writing (and Rabedeaux, which is why I put it here and not Journalism).

    This motif can't be accidental, particularly considering the setting:

    The team sent a list of the things he left behind, a life reduced to an Excel spreadsheet. He died with a rice cooker and a microwave, two laptops and two iPads. Nine telephones and nine watches, 20 small plastic statues and one pair of glasses. Four pillows and 13 pairs of shoes. Five pictures, to remind him of home, and one Bose speaker.

    He left behind Saigon, the city that offered him a second chance and took it away. Sometimes he'd talked to friends about the depravity of the city and sometimes he'd talked about the innocence, but he always understood how the place, perhaps more than any other he'd ever been in, reflected the inner conflicts of every exile who washed up on its streets. He left behind a mother who thought he did little wrong, and an ex-wife who thought he did little right, and three children caught in the middle. He left his three children behind long before he died -- his daughter, 12 now, spent maybe 50 days with him -- and in exchange he won 46 basketball games at UTEP, 56 in China and 18 more in Vietnam. His other wins and losses have faded away. Nobody remembers those games, each of which cost him another small piece of himself.

    He left behind debt, more discovered every day as creditors hound his oldest son. The IRS wants money, and so do at least eight credit card collectors. The team, which found out about the financial issues after Rabedeaux died, is working to pay the family a $50,000 accidental death benefit, plus the remaining amount owed per his contract, but all of that will certainly be carved into pieces by his creditors. When all the lawyers and accountants are finished, Jason Rabedeaux will have coached 26 years, in five countries, for a total of $900 -- the amount in his money clip, which Eva found after he died and turned in to the team.

    He left behind a mystery.

    I read the Tim O'Brien short story collection about 15 years ago, right out of college. I'll have to go back and revisit it now, at some point, considering how many #longform sports writers it has apparently inspired.

    I'm curious also what some think about that section. It's clearly homage. I suppose it's not plagiarism, since the words are quite different. But is there anything untoward at all about cribbing from the style and cadence of another work so directly? Not all of Thompson's readers will be familiar with O'Brien. Probably only a small percentage will.

    I hope Double Down sees this thread.
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2015
  2. Webster

    Webster Well-Known Member

    I just thought it was a very long piece about a very short story.
  3. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    Why can't we edit our posts any more?
  4. 93Devil

    93Devil Well-Known Member

    We can.



  5. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    I can't edit the initial post here.

    Maybe I'm on some sort of short leash, though.
  6. 93Devil

    93Devil Well-Known Member

    Should you take the stand in your defense?

    Last edited: Apr 16, 2015
  7. JackReacher

    JackReacher Well-Known Member

    I think we can edit posts for up to 5 minutes. After that, nah.
    franticscribe likes this.
  8. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    No. I have a prior disciplinary record at this site that might come out.
    93Devil and YankeeFan like this.
  9. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    Well, anyway, the Tim O'Brien book is actually called, "The Things They Carried," and the point of my post was whether, "The Things He Left Behind," considering this takes place in Vietnam, was a direct homage to that book and, if so, what people think of that technique.
  10. RecoveringJournalist

    RecoveringJournalist Well-Known Member

    I'm waiting for Wright's companion piece for Grantland on the best spring rolls in Saigon.
  11. JackReacher

    JackReacher Well-Known Member

    Do they sell bourbon in Saigon? I smell sidebar!
    RecoveringJournalist likes this.
  12. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    I think it's pretty clear that he finds a tremendous interest - and fertile writing ground - in the intersection between sports writing and travel writing. And, more generally, sports as a window through which we can explore the globe.
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