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If you could write a 5,000-word takeout on one athlete, who would it be?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Alma, Jan 16, 2007.

  1. friend of the friendless

    friend of the friendless Active Member

    Sirs, Madames,

    I've done the 5,000 word thing a couple of times and the book thing. (I have a couple of editors who wished I kept it down to 5,000.)

    One athlete tends not to work as well as a trend, a team or something bigger than one athlete. At the very least it would help if the athlete were done playing and were a complicated character with Big Ideas or Big Questions. Bill Russell would be there but I think it was Deford who did a great piece on him a few years ago that left little to add. Maybe Jim Brown. Maybe Barry Sanders. Maybe Kareem. Coaches are a safer bet. either because of character or storytelling art. Knight would be there. Storyteller coaches like Don Haskins, Tex Winter, maybe Jim Calhoun.

    Mr Jones, I have a beer that says I know who you're doing. I will send the name off to JR and he can hold it if you wanna take me up on it.

    YHS, etc
  2. Idaho

    Idaho Active Member

    That's fine and dandy. I noticed you offered no suggestions, though. Chances are, many people would also have no interest in your subjects. Doesn't mean they would not make outstanding stories.

    I wouldn't pitch a 5,000 word article on Zabriskie to the Des Moines newspaper or even the Atlantic. But to VeloNews or Bicycling magazine it'd be a very well read article.

    You probably would be more inclined to write about a baseball player and that would obviously have a more national appeal. Niche athletes and publications, though, are not to be dismissed in this thread just because they don't play the Big 4 or in NYC. I threw those names in because they would be good stories, knowing fully they are not in the mainstream.
  3. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    Stupid-serious: Zola Budd. Really, I wonder what happened to her and where she is now.

    Serious, but in H. Thompson terms: Bode Miller.

    And I'm not a skiier.

    Beckham also comes to mind, just the whole lifestyle thing.

    And, if he told the truth, McGwire. Good luck with that.
  4. moonlight

    moonlight Member

    I'd try to get Marvin Harrison to talk.
    Phil "I'm such an idiot" Mickelson would be interesting, too.
  5. silentbob

    silentbob Member

    I second McGwire, basically because I'm guessing this steroid mess eats at him daily. McGwire is an emotional guy who cares about his son and can no way want to go down in history as one of the guys who ruined baseball. He went to great lengths to reach out to the Maris family during his home run chase and was praised for doing so, all the while knowing (allegedly) that he cheated along the way.

    Someone will get this story. McGwire will crack. It might be during his HOF speech, if that day ever comes, but he will express remorse.
  6. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest

    Brother Jones speaks the gospel truth. And nobody knows it lately worse than I.

    As to Mother Alma's hypothetical, some variations:

    Most overexposed athlete whose inner life remains a mystery to us all - Tiger Woods.

    Athlete ripest for a new biography, 5K words to booklength - Rocky Marciano.

    5,000 word takeout on an athlete you never heard of - pick any member of the Chinese Olympic team at random.

    5K feature on the nature of fame in America - Michael Jordan.


    Oh. And add this: 5K on John D. Villarreal. Seriously. The centerpiece of a story on professional athletes and how they are beset by their lunatic hangers-on. Or, as '21' so wonderfully framed them, "appendages."
  7. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    I think the biggest question would be, does the subject have to grant you an interview?
  8. Double Down

    Double Down Well-Known Member

    I think it would be fascinating to go to Africa with Dikembe Mutumbo. People have written about him before, but never as in depth as the story truly deserves. (I've never seen one where the writer actually goes to Africa with him.) Imagine how interesting it would be to walk the streets of Kinshasa with him. Dikembe's story is Africa's story, but it's also the story of America too. The story of what the US did in the Congo, backing Mobutu instead of Patrice Lumumba, and then standing by as Mobutu got crazy and killed many of his own people. Mutumbo emerges from all that maddness (he lived in a house with 20 relatives; his mom sold cokes during the Rumble In the Jungle), comes to Georgetown on an academic scholarship hoping to be a doctor, John Thompson sees him and (because it's the American way) uses him to win basketball games, and at the same time Mutombo uses basketball to make millions of dollars. He then uses those millions to build hospitals back in Africa, to help more people, families just like his own.

    You also have a little humor too, what with the legend of "Who Wants to Sex Mutombo?" pick-up line, and the fact that he sounds like Cookie Monster, so it's not ALL maudlin.

    He's actually playing decent with the Rockets right now with Yao injured, making it somewhat timely. I just like the image of a guy with bad knees, sad eyes and a big smile, in the twilight of his career, pulling down rebounds and wagging his finger after a block, knowing the end is near, and that the day will soon come when he there will be no more basketball. He may have broken the promise to his father to return to the Congo for good after he graduated from Georgetown, but look at how much good he did.
  9. CollegeJournalist

    CollegeJournalist Active Member

    Someone like Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldinho or Beckham. Just to get an insight on what it's like to be the most popular athlete in the ONLY sport in your country. Especially someone like Beckham, who for awhile was the most popular athlete, and maybe person, in the world. And I'm not a soccer fan at all.

    I just wrote a feature on a college athlete that was pretty awesome to do because it was an insight into his life that was something no one around campus knows about. It hasn't been published yet, but I was really happy with how well it turned out.

    I would love to do something on A.C. Green too. His passion for his faith always fascinated me.
  10. John D. Villarreal
  11. zeke12

    zeke12 Guest

    Jim Brown.
  12. hockeybeat

    hockeybeat Guest

    Jaromir Jagr.
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