What I Learned from Sports Journalists

The best journalists are sports writers.

That is right. Writers.

When I volunteered at The Daily Gamecock, I wanted to write with that passion. I hoped to shoot pictures that captured a fire of emotions; the kind in which you see every line, feeling, and expression in a player’s face.

In high school, I shot pictures on the sideline. Shy girl in khakis almost got hit by a running back and the ball. Storytelling burned through interceptions and one hand catches for touchdowns. I fell in love with more than sports. I read more sports articles than I wrote.

In my two year career as a journalist, I worked primarily as a political, education and hard news reporter. I still read and cheered for my teams. I felt excitement like when Dad first took me to the (former) Greenville Braves baseball games.

Boston Red Sox articles from The State covered my wall.

When the South Carolina Gamecocks beat in-state rival Clemson for the third year in a row, I looked at every photograph taken by The State and read all articles.


Sports writers at The State have talent that flows onto the paper. Just like the Carolina-Clemson rivalry, some bring their own drama. Sports journalist, Ron Morris, has made his feelings known about South Carolina. It led to SC Coach Steve Spurrier banning him from a post-practice conference last season. Other journalists came in. Morris stayed out.

But, when Morris does write with intensity about the Gamecocks, he pens that page. He knows sports. He is a natural writer.

Sports bloggers and journalists cannot wait for the next home run or touchdown. I feel the same way as fan, and I love reading their work. Sports writers get to use the best verbs. Emotion comes easy. Nothing is ever slow.

When I interviewed Steve Spurrier at a post-practice in 2008, I could not believe what I was doing. I stood with all those men, and waited my turn to ask questions.

As a fan, I turned into a beer drinking, cursing fan in a garnet and black dress. I yelled louder than the boys, and paid attention to every down.

And, I still do.

My husband wonders how many hours I will spend watching college football on Saturday. Not to mention the time I take Sunday morning to read articles, blogs, and check statistics.

What is so Funny …

I was born with orange blood.

Yes, it is true. I reveled in reading and knowing everything about Clemson football. I came from a long line of Clemson University fans and graduates.

But, I felt the excitement, the thirst to win, and the in your face fandom at South Carolina. I was hooked.

Beyond my dedication, I wanted to write. What I found is there are others who are meant to tell the story of South Carolina football and baseball.

What can we learn as writers …

No matter what we write, we should read anything and everything.  In 2009, I reached the point where looking at a gray newspaper made me jump. Now I read the sports section again. I want to know what is going on. More importantly, I want to see how the sports journalists are writing. What has changed?

What makes this article so exciting? What is it about this style?

Justin King Media

Music and video are other tools great for storytelling. Justin King has used his talent since 2010 to tell the story of South Carolina football. He takes sports one step further. He knows what football means to fans, and he combines words, pictures, video and music.


Now

I write sports within my creative work.

From Sons of the Edisto:

Owen lets go of Easley and smiles as he walks back to his team. JD’s back in the game, he thinks. He spreads out his offense, and gets ready to run the ball down the center. He wants nothing more than to outrun Easley, make him fall, and get a mouth full of dirt.

Today’s post is dedicated to the South Carolina Gamecocks.

By Rebecca T. Dickinson

© 2006-2012 by R.T. Dickinson. All rights reserved. No part of the Sons of the Edisto manuscript or material related to it may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of R.T. Dickinson.

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6 thoughts on “What I Learned from Sports Journalists

  1. Elliot September 9, 2012 at 2:53 PM Reply

    I find the whole sports journalism thing interesting. I have no idea how this works for American Football as it is not something I am really into. However I really like regular football (i.e. soccer) and LFC is my passion, so I know what you are talking about. In soccer journalism there is the mixed bag, much like I guess “regular” journalism. There are those that react almost knee-jerk or short term, to that game. There are others that read between the lines, and see other things at play. There are those that understand what is going on and take a longer approach. They know what pressures come into play and what might affect short term decision making butalso how a long term plan comes into play. Passion is right in there in all approaches, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. Sometimes they understand it just as a sport, sometimes they understand that to many it is more than a sport but the community and more.

    As a side note, have you read Gene Weingarten’s “The fiddler in the subway” ? I figure you would like that one.

    • rtd14 September 12, 2012 at 2:54 PM Reply

      Thank you for your response! Sorry for the late reply.

      I have not read the The Fiddler in the Subway, but the title alone sounds like one I would want to read. Thank you for the suggestion. I will look up the book.

      I have met many sports journalists. Some are off the wall hyper when it comes to sports and passion for their job, and others are laid back. I’ve met several with a sense of humor, but I have found good sports journalists nail it when it comes to writing. One journalist in my local newspaper wrote a post-game article in the format of a checklist followed by each important detail or story of the game. It was a different approach and I liked it.

  2. patgarcia September 10, 2012 at 12:57 PM Reply

    Hi,
    I am a sports loving fan also. I love football and can get American football here in Germany, but I also love soccer. There is an intensity in the sport that will profit a writer. I also enjoy reading other people’s writing. I can only learn from doing it. It broaden your scope and makes your own writing richer.
    Thanks for the excellent article. I enjoyed reading and identifying with it.
    Ciao,
    Patricia

    • rtd14 September 12, 2012 at 2:57 PM Reply

      Particia, I enjoy reading other people’s writing, too. I wish I had more time for it. I am slowly moving back into my writing and reading routine with my new job.

      Soccer is an intense sport. I remember sitting in a pub when I lived in England. A rugby match was on the television. My ex-husband, who is English, said, “This is not as much as you will see in soccer.” College football fandom is in my blood. I cannot remember many autumn Saturdays when I wasn’t at a football game or watching the TV.

      Thank you, Patricia.

  3. Kathryn Dawson September 10, 2012 at 4:50 PM Reply

    Fantastic blog entry :)

    • rtd14 September 12, 2012 at 2:58 PM Reply

      Thank you very much, Kathryn. I apperciate it!

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