best american sports writing

PODCAST EPISODE #21: Glenn Stout, Series Editor, Best American Sports Writing

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I have spent a lot of time on this site talking about my annual tradition.

Every year, around this time, I purchase the Best American Sports Writing anthology and go to town. I crack it open and find 25 of the year’s finest pieces of sports writing. I read them, learn from them, and get inspired by them.

While I work in television, I can honestly say I have been affected professionally by these annual collections of print journalism. I always walk away with various insights on how to connect as a storyteller, from structure to character development to perspective.

Beyond that, quite simply, I leave with a better understanding of the world. That is the inevitable result of reading 25 stories that make you ponder, wonder, and feel.

For me, the Best American Sports Writing series has always been special.

And for that reason, so is this podcast.

My guest: Glenn Stout, series editor of the Best American Sports Writing anthology. (more…)

5 lessons from the Best American Sports Writing Stories of 2014

I said it last year, and I’ll say it again:

One of my favorite fall traditions is opening the annual anthology of the Best American Sports Writing series.

In this space alone, I have spoken of its influence on my career, interviewed a writer whose work has been featured in the anthology, and thanked one columnist whose entry more than a decade ago touched my heart.

Now, the fall has arrived once again, and so has this year’s collection.

And, much as it did last year and every year, the 2014 edition of the Best American Sports Writing anthology provides both inspiration and valuable journalistic lessons.

Here are five such lessons from five stories that made this year’s cut: (more…)

PODCAST EPISODE #18: Thomas Lake, senior writer, Sports Illustrated

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Last week I wrote a tribute to the amazing — and newly retired — Sports Illustrated writer Gary Smith. I mentioned how I first read one of Smith’s famous long-form, back-of-the-magazine epics as a teenager; I then rediscovered him as a young journalist.

Turns out I wasn’t alone.

One of Smith’s successors at Sports Illustrated — and one of the finest heirs to his long-form legacy — had a similar experience and has reaped the benefits of a rewarding relationship with this sportswriting icon.

That young journalist is Thomas Lake.

His career has taken him from daily newspapers to regional magazines to, currently, the most prestigious sports magazine in the world. And roughly midway through that journey, Lake got a major assist from his future SI colleague.

Lake discusses Smith’s influence, his own work, and advice for young journalists on this episode of the Telling The Story podcast. (more…)

The value of “thank you” (with help from Bill Plaschke)

The expression is as old as time (or at least as old as “How I Met Your Mother”):

Nothing good happens after 2 AM.

Allow me to offer an exception, starring a budding TV reporter, a veteran newspaper writer, last month’s Winter Olympics, and an easy expression of gratitude.

It is the result — but, I hope, not the end result — of an action I took ten years ago.

In 2004, I had not yet received my current job as a reporter in a major city. I had not yet covered an Olympics, a Democratic Convention, or any major news event. I had not yet achieved many of the successes to which I aspired.

I had barely passed my first year as a professional.

And I was struggling.

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5 lessons from the Best American Sports Writing stories of 2013

Eleven years ago, a book about journalism, writing, and storytelling blew my mind.

I was, at the time, a senior in the journalism school at Northwestern University. I loved to read, and I loved to write, so naturally I found my interest piqued when I noticed a certain anthology at the bookstore: the 2002 edition of Best American Sports Writing.

Upon reading the first two articles, I had received enough inspiration to fuel me for the rest of college.

The Best American Sports Writing anthology is a collection of the top written sports stories of a given year, selected by a guest editor noted as a prominent sports journalist. In 2002, that editor was Rick Reilly, and he wrote in his introduction a 10-step advice column for how to become a better writer. I still look at it today when I am in a rut, and I even referenced it this past week in my “3 Great Stories” column.

Following Reilly’s intro was the book’s first selection, an article by Los Angeles Times writer Bill Plaschke entitled “Her Blue Haven”. You can still find it online today.

The article details Plaschke’s correspondence with an LA Dodgers blogger who has cerebral palsy; she writes her blog entries with a head pointer because she cannot harness her hands well enough to type with her fingers.

It is, to this day, one of my all-time favorite stories.

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