Sunday, December 02, 2012

Excellent sports writing - on Ricky Rubio, Jack Jablonski & Pat Schiller

Three pieces of sports writing I've come across recently from three very different sources stood out as compelling.

Published on The Classical, "The Ricky Rubio Experience" was an example of great writing that might not  find an outlet if not for the web. It's written by ex-pro basketball player Flinder Boyd and the bulk of the piece covers Boyd's experience playing against a Rubio in his mid-teens who dominated against men. What's striking from the story was the description of Rubio's creativity and it brought to mind stories like this by S.L. Price for Sports Illustrated on soccer icon Lionel Messi.

If the Rubio piece trafficked in the lyrical, two other excellent stories of late were grounded in a much more stark reality. "After the Hit" was a long profile in the Star Tribune newspaper on Minneapolis area high school player Jack Jablonski who was paralyzed a year ago during a game. I previously wrote about an SI piece on Jablonski and this lengthy recent profile by Pam Louwagie is excellent in it's combination of uplift and tragedy. In that regard, Louwagie's work reminds me of how I wrote a month ago about a Chris Ballard story for SI having such a balance.

The third piece to note here was similar to Louwagie's in that it has a definite element of inspiration and opportunity, but is also rooted in long odds still to be overcome. For the New York Times Magazine"The Hard Life of an N.F.L. Long Shot" was by Charles Siebert on his nephew Pat Schiller's attempt to make a team after being undrafted out of college. Schiller certainly has gotten further in in his sport than the large majority of others to play the game, but Siebert meticulously details the difficulty of him going beyond this to a career playing football.