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Favorite assignment

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by valpo87, Apr 19, 2014.

  1. 3_Octave_Fart

    3_Octave_Fart Well-Known Member

    Catching punts from an All-Pro punter.
    Fun as hell to write and much harder than it looks.
    There are so many minute aspects to the game that require immense natural skill.
  2. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    Batman, your favorites sound great.

    Don't denigrate things just because they're not the Super Bowl. Sometimes, the best stories and most rewarding assignments come out of preps and the so-called "minor" sports, where there are people who want to be covered and/or where there are people who are often more thoughtful and articulate and less into coach- and cliché-speak than those at the major events.

    That said, my favorite events were coverage of the gymnastics World Championships and the epic 1990 college-football game between UCLA and USC that featured the fourth-quarter gun-slinging of Tommy Maddox and Todd Marinovich.

    The gymnastics was just a fantastic, week-long assignment, which I loved, grew a lot from and completed well. That football game was simply one of the greatest I've ever had the privilege of covering. There were 42 points scored in the fourth quarter, multiple lead changes in the last three minutes, and frenzied, up-and-down-the-field marches by both teams until USC finally won with a touchdown pass from Marinovich to Johnnie Morton with 16 seconds left.

    It was also one of the last games at which I remember seeing Jim Murray, who was granted the right to ask the first question in the press room afterward.
  3. ColdCat

    ColdCat Well-Known Member

    This, absolutely. I've covered bowl games, PGA Tour events, more NFL and NBA games than I can count and D-I college football and basketball, and quite often they become major headaches. The boss wants 10 different sidebars and won't commit the resources and you have to elbow your way past the dozens of other reporters all doing the same thing.

    actually the most fun I've had on assignment was covering the opening ceremonies of the Special Olympics. It was during my TV days and one of our anchors was running in the torch relay which is why we were covering it, but I got to talk to a lot of the athletes and win or lose, they were determined to have the time of their lives.
  4. PaperDoll

    PaperDoll Well-Known Member

    Penn Relays, particularly the year I could write about whatever high school story I tripped over. It's completely overwhelming and all-encompassing... but I still love it, and can't wait for Thursday!

    Edit to add: I got a chance to follow a local team to the Little League World Series a couple of summers back, and utterly enjoyed the experience. I turned up all sorts of intriguing (albeit mostly not unique) stories, and just reveled in watching kids having a good time.

    I think most of that group should be playing high school baseball now... I should do a catch-up story.
  5. jr/shotglass

    jr/shotglass Well-Known Member

    The Penn Relays was one of my favorites, too. The ultimate three-ring circus. The way they shuffle those high school 4x4 relay teams on and off the track is unreal.
  6. flexmaster33

    flexmaster33 Well-Known Member

    Easily...the 2012 Little League World Series. I'm not a baseball guy in the least, and our local team lost all three of their games, but it didn't sour the experience in the least. Fantastic stuff in Williamsport, PA.
  7. boxingnut4324

    boxingnut4324 Member

    I got three.

    1. Last November I covered a state playoff football game that featured 23 points and three lead changes in the last 90 seconds. After that the miracles that Auburn pulled a few weeks later didn't seem so special :).

    2. Last year was the 15th anniversary of my school's best finishing men's hoops team (Elite Eight). I tracked down seven former players and the coach and did an oral history of that season. Wrote 5400 words and killed myself with transcribing the interviews, but it was so worth beating the State Times to the punch from my small perch at the school paper.

    3. After the 2010 Vancouver Olympics the local curling club ran a clinic at the rink on campus. If ever there was a reason to wake up at 9 am on a Sunday it was this. Learned how to curl and got one of my best features out of it. It was nothing groundbreaking, but it was fun to be a part of and write the story.
  8. Keystone

    Keystone Member

    Any of the four Indy 500s I covered, the most memorable being Sam Hornish's pass just before the finish in '06. Those were always great weeks. You could feel the energy of the event every day you were in Indy.
  9. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    Yeah, I've caught passes from two Hall-of-Fame QBs and two more who will eventually get in.

    Twice, I was helping during photo shoots early in my career. Once, I was standing near a target that a QB was trying to hit after practice (I was waiting to interview him) and I was catching ones he missed. The other one, we were actually throwing the ball around at his house.
  10. I've been around a long time, so I have a number of them.

    A guy named Leonard King used to run a free agent camp in Atlanta after the draft. Basically, it was a low-budget open tryout camp for any wannabe NFL player, but because King had contacts in the league -- his claim to fame was discovering Alfred Jenkins, who turned into a good receiver for the Falcons in the 1970s -- some of the teams would send scouts, so it had some legitimacy (the catch was players had to sign an agreement saying King would be their agent if they signed with an NFL team). One year, I did a feature on this camp that ended up going something like 80 inches -- we split it up and ran it over two days. It was awesome (the event, not the story). Everyone had a story. There were a bunch of ex-college players -- some pretty good ones -- along with bartenders, truck drivers, a nightclub DJ, etc. The best part was hanging around the scouts while the drills were going on, listening to their banter and their take on who was an actual prospect and who wasn't, and of course, hearing their comments on the guys who had no business being there. The story turned out good, but the experience was tremendous.

    My first Super Bowl was an eye-opening experience in more ways than one -- it was the year the riots broke out in Miami during SB week.

    My favorite long-term story to cover was the Carolinas NFL expansion bid. The Richardsons and their people -- Mike McCormack, Max Muhleman, etc. -- were tremendous to work with, and the saga had all sorts of twists and turns over about a five-year span between when I started covering it and the Panthers started playing. Plus, I broke my share of stories while competing with the big guns of the Charlotte Observer, which made it even more fun. Among the highlights were going to Jerry Richardson's house in Spartanburg, S.C. and seeing his trophy room/shrine to Johnny Unitas and the Colts, and the time I had an interview scheduled with Richardson and he asked me if I wanted to go get something to eat. He took me to the Hardees on Kennedy Street in Spartanburg -- his first store, the one he bought with his NFL championship bonus money -- where I watched a billionaire chowing down on whatever the latest Hardees burger creation was at the time with the rest of us.

    Someone earlier mentioned to Penn Relays. I covered a lot of track over the years, and Penn had by far the greatest atmosphere, thanks in part to all the Jamaicans in the stands. It remains the only sporting event I've ever been to where jerk chicken was sold at the concession stands.

    Working the ACC tournament was always very cool to me, moreso than the NCAAs because the fans were so into it. But probably the best college basketball game I ever saw was Georgia Tech's victory over LSU in the 1990 NCAA tournament -- Lethal Weapon 3 vs. Chris Jackson, Shaq and Stanley Roberts. And covering Bobby Cremins was an absolute treat.

    I got a chance to cover the Masters twice, and that was a tremendous experience. Augusta National might be the most beautiful place I've ever seen in person. And it didn't hurt that my first Masters was 1986, when Nicklaus charged from behind to win at age 46. The crowd was deafening. In fact, the lede for my story was, "The crowd roared Sunday at Augusta National. But the Bear roared louder." Still probably my favorite lede of anything I've done.

    I also love stories that involve collecting tales from old-timers. My favorite was a piece on 1950s NFL linebacker Hardy Brown that I put together for the Star-Telegram's Sports Century series in 1999. I talked to Otto Graham, Pat Summerall, Glenn Davis, Y.A. Tittle and a bunch of other guys who played back then, and all of them had great stories. It was tons of fun. The only problem was a miscommunication -- I thought my story was going to be the cover feature, but it was actually an inside feature, which had considerably less space, so I had to cut it down severely. I kept a copy of the longer version, which I really, really liked, and actually sent it out with my clips for awhile (with an explanation of what had happened).
  11. albert77

    albert77 Well-Known Member

    A few more memorable or off-the-wall assignments I've had in a 30-year career in the business:

    Interviewing Charlie Conerly, who was extremely gracious.

    Catching Don Sutton, who was in town to watch his son play college ball. I asked him if his rep for doctoring baseballs during his playing career was true. He grinned and said, "no comment."

    Tim Brando, who was in town to address a high school scholar-athlete luncheon, gave me the best interview of my life. I ask for five minutes, he gave me 20 and we talked about all sorts of subjects.

    A backyard rassling competition out in the sticks. These folks had rented a rink and everything. An absolute hoot.

    A state semifinal basketball game in which a kid from a local team banked in a 65-foot prayer at the buzzer to win it.
  12. Walter Burns

    Walter Burns Member

    In no order but chronological:
    1. The Super Bowl of Horseshoe Pitching. I was 19 and the low man on the totem pole at the sports department. Since my duties usually included the Saturday night DQ run, I jumped at the chance to write ANYTHING. "I got the Super Bowl of Horseshoe Pitching." It was on a Saturday morning at a VFW. There were 10 horseshoe pits and a bar. I split my time between the two. I got raves over the story.
    2. I got to interview John Glenn. "Oh, he's a corrupt senator," one of my co-workers said. "Any idiot can get elected senator," I replied (We were in Pennsylvania, which at the time was represented by Arlen Specter and Rick Santorum. I rest my case). John Glenn's telling me stories about flying jets in Korea with Ted Williams and I have to restrain myself from saying, "DUDE, YOU WERE IN OUTER FUCKING SPACE!!"
    3. I interviewed a 90-year-old fire academy instructor. He was a volunteer fireman and instructor for longer than he actually worked his real job, and he. was. hysterical. It's amazing how the good stories can be so easy to write.
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