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Profile on Scott Van Pelt I did for my school's paper

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by Colonial, Jun 13, 2006.

  1. Colonial

    Colonial New Member

    Let me know what you guys think:

    ESPN "SportsCenter" anchor Scott Van Pelt's fascination with GW senior Pops Mensah-Bonsu was love at first sight, lust at first sound.

    During Mensah-Bonsu's junior year, Van Pelt watched the GW men's basketball team play Rhode Island on TV. Coincidentally, Mensah-Bonsu had a career-high 25 points and 16 rebounds that game and Van Pelt took an immediate liking to the center's athletic and energetic style of play.

    "It wasn't just the name," said Van Pelt, who attended last Saturday's game against Charlotte in which Mensah-Bonsu did not play due to injury. "It was the combination of the game and the name (that first caught my attention)."

    "I'm like 'I love this dude's game,' and then I found ,out what his name was and said 'That's just too good to be true,'" Van Pelt said. "This guy is an unbelievable player; talent, energy and his name is Pops Mensah-Bonsu. This is like the perfect storm. A love affair was born."

    Soon thereafter, Van Pelt began mentioning GW and Mensah-Bonsu from time to time during broadcasts of the nightly sports highlight show he frequently hosts.

    With GW's program slowly rising from obscurity, the University appreciated any publicity it could get - even if it was just a brief mention of a score - and contacted Van Pelt to thank him and send him some Colonials merchandise.

    "(His publicity) has helped us immensely," Mensah-Bonsu said. "I think him being a fan and pushing for us on 'SportsCenter' has given us a little more exposure than maybe we would have if I did not know him."

    Although Van Pelt is unclear how he initially made direct contact with Mensah-Bonsu, the two started exchanging e-mails late last year, and the contacts became more frequent this season.

    "During the season, it's been kind of a weekly thing," Van Pelt said. "Before a game, I'll call him and tell him 'Hey, don't go on the road and lose to some crummy team.'"

    Van Pelt, a University of Maryland alumnus, said he has only corresponded with Mensah-Bonsu and head coach Karl Hobbs, and that once Mensah-Bonsu graduates after this season, he will renounce his allegiance to the Colonials.

    "I'm married to Maryland, so I'm kind of cheating on my wife, and I don't want to go too overboard," Van Pelt said. "There's a bunch of guys on the team whom I enjoy watching play and like the way Coach Hobbs coaches, but for me it's sort of a momentary fling with this particular team whom I've sort of gotten to know through watching them play."

    Despite his obligation as a journalist to be objective, Van Pelt does not believe his personal relationship with a particular player is looked at as inappropriate by his employer or fans, especially because he is so open about it. He says that if he has any agenda, it is not hidden.

    "If I did this about Maryland, I think people would have a problem," he said. "But I'm far more over the top about GW and Pops on the air than I ever would be about Maryland and nobody cares. They know I'm just having fun and it's something I really enjoy."
  2. Colonial

    Colonial New Member

    reading this over, i just realized that i fell pretty badly into sentence-quote-sentence-quote and it reads poorly as a result. oh well, i'll learn.
  3. JME

    JME Member

    I'm not crazy about the word choice of 'lust' in the lede.

    I don't think you need 'coincedentally' in the 2nd graf -- there really was no coincedence and the sentence works better w/o it.

    Great quote from SVP about "A love affair was born." I'd probably use that at the very top, when you mention the first time he watched him play and heard his name.

    This is : "Although Van Pelt is unclear how he initially made direct contact with Mensah-Bonsu ..." The rest of the sentence is fine by itself, this part doesn't serve any purpose.

    This is a good point, but you could have done away with 'looked at as...' He doesn't think it's inappropriate.

    I think it's a good, unique little sidebar-type note, though.
  4. Colonial

    Colonial New Member

    great critiques. and yes, if i could re-do it, i would replace love and lust with like and love, respectively. lust is too sexual.

  5. jgmacg

    jgmacg Guest

    You've already mentioned the alternating quote phenomenon, so I won't say anything except to remind you to try to avoid it next time. As easy a template as it is to use, it usually deadens the material rather than enlivening it.

    Also, since this is ostensibly a profile about Van Pelt, we need to see him. What does he look like, how does he sound? Was he a good interview? Not everyone watches ESPN.

    And while it was good that you asked about any conflict-of-interest feedback he's gotten, I came to the end still not having a real sense of why he took up with this one player and this one team. He seems to have developed an affection for them far beyond what might reasonably expected, especially from a broadcaster. I think there might have been a couple more "why" questions in this piece that need better, richer answers.

    Thanks for posting.
  6. Jones

    Jones Active Member

    Not much to add to jgmacg's comments -- he usually nails just about everything, and deserves major kudos for putting so much into this thread -- except to say that, in addition to wanting more visuals (of both Van Pelt and Pops), I was kinda craving a scene or two, especially one that puts them together. I know Pops wasn't playing in the game, so we can't see Van Pelt cheering him on or something, but did they fist-bump before the game? Anything like that?

    And I know you know this, but yeah, the quote-sentence-quote rhythm is virtually unwavering in this piece. Normally I'm not one for using a lot of quotes, but this story needs them -- you want these two guys telling us about their relationship. There's just a more artful way of including them.

    And again, we need to do more than hear them... We need to see them, too. If you read a story you've written and realize that you could have reported it over the phone, then you haven't included everything that you need to include.

    It's not a bad piece at all. It's just that it needs a little more meat on its bones.
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