Sports Writing Goes ‘Under Further Review’

Under Further Review

For the vast majority of my college career, I’ve been writing. It started as a short post on the Sport Management Student Union’s blog and developed into an obsession. I knew so little.  Never a good writer in high school then into college, I feared picking up the pen or sitting at the keyboard. The blank screen just wouldn’t fill up, no matter how much I closed my eyes an hoped.

But then something unexpected happened: I started to enjoy writing. An English teacher told me to forget about rules and just write out thoughts in the clearest possible way. Writing in high school was always taught in such a rigid, rule-driven way that when I couldn’t grasp some of the rules, I shut down. This professor told me to simply forget the rules, worry about them in the editing process. Just write.

That’s exactly what I began to do. I knew I was bad. But I was able to identify a major weakness in my professional arsenal and work like hell to improve it. The more I felt I was improving, the more I wanted to turn my writing loose on a topic that I was knowledgeable and passionate about — sports. I started writing just about everyday. I think I got better. I learned the journalism field from the inside, an incredibly exciting opportunity that I never expecting to enjoy.

To learn journalism, I became a voracious reader. Anytime somebody recommends a piece of writing to me, I read it. When other journalists share a story and high praise for it, I do my best to read it. When people ask me what my genre of writing is, I say “good writing.” To become a good writer, you have to read good writing to know what it looks like.

In a long-winded way, that’s why I began writing Under Further Review for the SMTSU blog. I figured, why not get out into the sports journalism world and talk to sports journalists? It will help the people reading. It helps me meet new people. I can give back and learn simultaneously.

What I wanted to learn more about is interviewing. I subscribe to Esquire, and each month I look forward to Scott Raab’s interviews. Normally, the interviewee isn’t even overly intriguing to me. It doesn’t matter, really. The way Raab works through the interview, in such a conversational and quick-witted manner, is impressive. I always feel I’m a bit too slow and plodding when my interviews turn into too much of question-answer question-answer. Raab’s read so quick and smooth; it’s something I look to emulate.

So, Under Further Review is my way of attempting to improve my interview skills. I’m already learning a lesson in interview preparation. There are also lessons within the transcribed interviews, lessons told by those who have learned during their time in the field. Some subjects will be young, some old. Some will deal with a specific topic, some simply with becoming a better writer. Either way, I hope there’s a little something for everyone to learn, because I know I already am.

Check out Under Further Review, and let me know what you think.

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