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Special Olympics

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by jakewriter82, Apr 9, 2007.

  1. Tom Petty

    Tom Petty Guest

    btw - hows that crappy paper you used to work for in calif. progressing? still smell like sewage there?
  2. cranberry

    cranberry Well-Known Member

    It's a wonderful photographic event. Treat it as such.
  3. ColbertNation

    ColbertNation Member

    I wrote some SO features a few years back. Some of the stories were pretty cool, but by the time I got to the third or fourth kid, I realized that a lot of the stories were the same, and it began to get really repetitive. I agree with Cranberry, though. You could probably get a great photo page out of it.
  4. BNWriter

    BNWriter Active Member

    I am going to be in the minority for what I will say here, but I do not care, as I have written on Special Olympics events (State Bowling Tourney, State Basketball tourney, State Summer Games) in two states for over 20 years, so I am comfortable with what I am about to explain.

    The parents and friends of the athletes treat events their Special Olympics participant in like any other state playoff or contest, because, as one mother told me, "It is (Junior's) chance to experience a playoff (or as in basketball, his team's March Madness.").

    From my perspective and those of the families who go to watch their athlete, it *is* sports as far as they are concerned.

    That's even though the stories focus mostly on human features-type content.

    I understand that it *really* isn't the perview of the sports dept. -- for whatever reason -- to cover SO events. That does not bother me and it is understandable from a sports writer's POV.

    But, to say that SO is *not* sports is inaccurate and simply not true.

    Ask any of my editors who ask me to return with "as many stats as possible." They have asked that of me and I have given it to them. And trust me, there are plenty of stats.

    SO just does not emphasize or dwell on the score or who scored how many or had however many rebounds. Most of the stories can show how Johnny or June has grown as a person despite their condition and how SO participation has helped them learn new skills -- sometimes being able to go from learning how to play basketball to being able to carry their ability to learn further so that they can contribute to society productively as employees, mostly part-time at a local business, earning their own keep. They are able to do this because they have taken to learning about something that makes them productive in society.

    Yes, it is community news. Yes, it is an instant photo-op. But it is also writing about people's lives. Many of these folks (parents, coaches, the athletes themselves) are more than happy to talk about what benefit their child has gotten out of being an SO athlete.

    Always happy to find a new angle now and again but if you cover these things regularly like I do, they get easier and easier. Good luck.
  5. CU_Buffalo_Gal

    CU_Buffalo_Gal New Member

    I'll bet a lot of the families of the competitors are sports fans... otherwise many of them probably wouldn't be involved. So they would probably really appreciate a feature on the sports page. Even if it wasn't a big thing. For some reason, I'm thinking about that story a few months back about the autistic kid who made it into the basketball game and then started draining 3s. I remember Jim Rome interviewed the coach and afterwards, fathers wrote in and said how much that story affected them because they also have autistic kids.

    This bowling event may be too small a hook, but if you are looking for a larger Special Olympics sports tie-in, Aldis Berzins, who was a starter for the U.S. men's volleyball team when they won the gold medal at the 1984 Olympics, is now the Director of Information Technologies for Special Olympics in Washington DC. He has an interesting story.

    Just a thought... :)
  6. TheSportsPredictor

    TheSportsPredictor Well-Known Member

    Find out if they liked this movie:

  7. standman

    standman Member

    Lean on the public relations people hard. They can push you toward some good stories although if you keep your eyes and ears open you should be able to run into tons of feature angles. The participants range from kids to adults so don't refer to the competitors as kids.

    Some of the participants fuction well enough that you can get a quote you can use. Don't worry about the results or the sport, if you can capture the spirit of the event in a feature you will do just fine. The competitors and coaches work hard and for the most part the participants follow the same rules as everybody else.

    The SO folks used to have a guide of how to write about this so you don't Imus yourself or an editor out of a job. For every arrogant kid or parent you've had to deal with in the past, you'll feel a lot better once you're through with the event.
  8. Cadet

    Cadet Guest

    Depending on the sport, there are opportunities for advancement. See if anyone from the local event will be competing at the state or national level. I do know they are doing a SO "world games" in Beijing before the Olympics.

    Also, the participants have varying levels of disability and some may make a great interview.
  9. SoSueMe

    SoSueMe Active Member

    Am I going to hell for laughing — hard — at this post?
  10. JD Canon

    JD Canon Guest

    there's a place for some community news on any sports page. what was that canzano column about his e-heckler that was laid off but remained a big blazers fan? it wasn't "sports." not that he was retarded, but it was still a great story.

    and the sun-star in merced isn't what smelled like sewer. it was turlock, a town to the north. modesto's red-headed step-sister city.

    the merced paper i hear is doing OK. there was a huge scandal in which the sports staff dedicated about 20 different news items to. a girls soccer coach asked a player to drive to a game, in turlock coincidentally, and was fired for it.

    a rush of news stories and at least five opinion columns quoting only the coach's lawyer called for the reinstatement of the coach, who had been leading the team to an 0-for-the-season record or something like that. one-sided overkill for sure, but it was big news in merced i guess.

    i also hear paolinelli's all up in there impersonating other people on their blog site and having conversations with himself. rumors.
  11. jakewriter82

    jakewriter82 Active Member

    Well, the kids weren't that "special" in the sense that I could talk to most of them.
    I started the story saying that what people perceive as Special Olympics isn't always true.
    The kids I talked to today, ranging from grade school to high school, were all pretty normal kids aside from their disorders.

    Before I went in to the bowling alley, I expected to see kids who couldn't bowl without those stands that you push the ball down.
    They were all pretty good bowlers though.
    The SO organization here in the state has raised $1.8 million in the past 10 years and auctions off a new truck every year, so I mentioned that also.
  12. MU_was_not_so_hard

    MU_was_not_so_hard Active Member

    We have a winner.
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