3 GREAT STORIES: Starring street ball, Selma, & the iPhone

Every week, I shine the spotlight on some of the best storytelling in the business and offer my comments. “3 Great Stories of the Week” will post every Monday at 8 AM.

The Carver Mobb (1/21/15, SB Nation): How fitting that, on the week of the Super Bowl, the most powerful piece of football-related writing focused on a different league.

Forget the 90,000,000 words written about Deflate-Gate. Check out this 4,000-word piece from Ivan Solotaroff about a New York City street football league that can be far rougher than the NFL:

If all sport is ritualized warfare, it’s often difficult to distinguish the two in rough-touch. That’s particularly true as playoffs approach, when midfield fights emptying both benches can involve fans, referees, even league commissioners, usually aging veterans of the sport. “City” (short for the Bronx’s Coop City/City Island League) was the most desired Chip, until recruiting refs became difficult and the commissioner’s tires were slashed.

This is a masterful and powerful story from SB Nation Longform, as Solotaroff works as both tour guide — explaining the rules, format, and stakes of the league — and profiler — providing poignant portraits of the athletes and others involved. He writes beautifully at every step.

How Selma got smeared (1/28/15, Grantland): Perhaps the most second-most discussed entertainment topic of January — after Deflate-Gate, of course — has been the movie Selma.

Many people have written many things, but very few have contextualized all of it — the film, the backlash, the history, and everything in the middle.

Mark Harris does that here.

Writing for the Grantland web site, Harris notices astutely that Selma is very much a Rorshach test; how you view it afterward may very well depend on how you viewed it beforehand. Harris discusses such thorny issues as perspective, race, and criticism while backing it up with quotes, details, and facts.

I dare say, of all the words written about Selma this month, Harris’ words are the main ones worth reading.

Phoning it in (12/24/14, WFAA-TV): Every now and then, while writing this column, I have to make an exception.

I always aim to pick three great stories from the previous week, but sometimes I view a story or article that came out a few weeks earlier, and it is so good that I feel compelled to include it.

Here is one such story.

Reporter Mike Castelucci of WFAA-TV in Dallas produced an entire half-hour show … on his iPhone.

Read that again.

Then watch this collection of Castelluci features that prove his mantra: “Technology will always change. Storytelling will never change.”

Have a suggestion for “3 Great Stories of the Week”? E-mail me at matt@tellingthestoryblog.com.

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