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"Where are they Now?"-type features

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by moonlight, Apr 2, 2009.

  1. moonlight

    moonlight Member


    We've decided recently to do a weekly "Where are they now?" kind of thing, and we made the mistake of asking readers for suggestions.

    I thought it would be a good way to get potential former athletes to profile. The only problem is 98 percent of the suggestions we've received are from parents who, presumably, 20 years ago were a pain in the ass to our then-SE.

    They send me e-mails with: "You should profile my son. He didn't play much on the baseball team, but he's got quite an insurance business going."

    Other parents, my current pains-in-the-asses, send me this: "You didn't write much on my son when he was in high school, so here's your chance. He's a sophomore at State U, and he's on the dean's list."

    Does this sound familiar to anyone? Does anyone have any suggestions for how to come up with better candidates?

    Should we stop the feature all together?

  2. Pete Incaviglia

    Pete Incaviglia Active Member

    The only suggestions I have are to go through your electronic archives and look for big performances or quirky stories from years gone by. But, if your place is like mine, your electronic archives only go back 10 years.

    So, my second thought is microfilm.

    You could also ask former/retired coaches about kids they coached back in the day.

    I'd rather read about Johnny Smith who scored 57 points for Podunk in a high school hoops game than the guy who went pro. Those 57 points and that game are probably still tops in the middle-aged, one-wife, 2.5-kids, a-dog-and-a-minivan guy's life.

    He probably doesn't remember shit from age 20-30, but I'd bet my ass he remembers a game like that.

    I know I'm 33 now and I still remember scoring 43 points in a high school hoops game. I can remember from where I hit both threes I took.
  3. mustangj17

    mustangj17 Active Member

    Shit, all I managed was 22 in middle school.
  4. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    Hell, I'm reasonably sure I managed to tie my career RBI total from high school in one amateur-league hardball game last weekend. :D
  5. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    Where are they now? Hanging out at the local bar and piss drunk. Or have eight kids from four or five different women.
  6. Precious Roy

    Precious Roy Active Member

    We have a column like that. Luckily, we have our retired SE doing that. He tracks down all these guys from a long time ago and does the features on them.
    If I had to do it, I don't think I could.
  7. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    I know you're not necessarily thinking big-time athletes, but I'd recommend skimming past issues of SI's annual "Where are they now?" just to get the brain rolling. SI, for all the ways it has slipped, hits a grand slam with that every year.
  8. Point of Order

    Point of Order Active Member

    Write about the ones that got sent to prison.
  9. Shaggy

    Shaggy Guest

    I would agree with this. I would also say that I played baseball, hit 7 home runs in two seasons on varsity. I could tell you the count, the location, the pitch and where I hit every one of them. So yeah, the memories will come rushing back for the ones that peaked in high school.
  10. JackReacher

    JackReacher Well-Known Member

    I think I scored a career-high 13 or something back in the day.

    One thing I regret is that I never got a chance to introduce that concept at either of the papers for which I worked. I always love those stories and would have loved writing them.
  11. Brookerton

    Brookerton Member

    Go through past all-area teams to find "Where are they now?" stories. If you see a guy that was player of the year or was all-area three times back in the 80s I'm sure people want to know what he's up to now days. Or check out your local school's career stat leaders.
    We do this feature in the summer. People seem to like it and every once in a while we get suggestions from readers. One week I was stuck in a bind to track down someone. My SE got an e-mail from a lady suggesting her son. He ended up being a marginal player in high school, but was a CEO of a major company.
    My only rule is I try to find players that have been out of high school for at least 10 years.
  12. zebracoy

    zebracoy Guest

    Sometimes this isn't a bad idea, especially if the individual was a superstar who is locked up not-so-close to home.
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