Saturday, November 30, 2013

Interesting sports pieces - on Jovan Belcher, John Harbaugh, Andy Hershock & Marcus Smart

Some of the sports writing I've seen recently that struck me as particularly interesting included stories by Jeff Pearlman, Kevin Van Valkenburg, and Brian Phillips... with the Pearlman and Van Valkenburg pieces having separate website posts done on how the stories came about.

Two of the pieces centered around the NFL and to me showed the all-encompassing and often mentally (not to mention physically) unhealthy nature of the league. For the site Bleacher Report on Nov 26, Jeff Pearlman wrote "A Year After Jovan Belcher's Final Act, Friends Offer Clues to Tragic Downfall" about Belcher's life before he killed himself and the mother of his young daughter and Pearlman posted to his website "On Jovan Belcher." Certainly not as tragic of a story, but also about what it's like to be in the NFL was a piece done for the December 9 issue of ESPN The Magazine. In "A week in the life of a coach" Kevin Van Valkenburg listed out a game-week schedule for John Harbaugh of the Ravens and a few days ago the ESPN website had a Q&A with the writer.

Additionally from Jeff Pearlman was "Late ABA ref made call that still lasts" for ESPN and then Pearlman wrote "A story finally runs" on his website. The piece on Andy Hershock and his death 43 years ago while referring a basketball game struck me as particularly interesting with how the writing of that story impacted Hershock's children so many decades later.

The last piece to note here was by Brian Phillips for Grantland with "Smart's Choice" on Oklahoma State star basketball player Marcus Smart and his return to school for a  sophomore year. The story felt to me to be about the culture of sports debate, what people expect someone to do and then what they actually choose. It was I thought a really well-written story and the ending struck me as particularly strong...

"He made a choice for himself, one that fell outside the collective consensus-logic of the sports-culture machinery. It's a good choice if he thinks it is, because he's living his own life. Isn't that how we're all supposed to live? I'd like to think Smart's independence, and not the chattering about his NBA stock, could become the defining characteristic of his season. But the world is very cold."