Friday, August 01, 2014

Great sports writing - by Pollak, Ballard & White

There's been a few recent pieces of sports writing I've seen that I found particularly noteworthy, with two of the pieces very much profound and the third an entertaining tale.

The first piece was from the Baltimore Sun with the 1997 Pulitzer Prize winning "The Umpire's Son" by Lisa Pollak on MLB umpire John Hirschbeck and his family. In 1992 they learned of the rare genetic disease Adrenoleukodystrophy, or ALD, that would claim the life of eight-year-old John Drew Hirschbeck and leave his younger brother Michael afflicted with the disease, along with his two sisters as carriers that could pass it along to any males they might eventually give birth to. It's an empathically written story from Pollak that becomes even more profound with the Hirschbeck family's tragic news from April of this year.

The second story of heft to note here was from the recent July 28 issue of Sports Illustrated with Chris Ballard writing "A First-time Skydiving Experience, a Fall to Earth and a Terrible Accident." The piece is a detailed account of the cataclysmic 2009 injury suffered by instructor Dave Hartsock as he saved the life of his first-time jumper client Shirley Dygert and a great retelling of a heroic act.

The final piece to mention didn't necessarily have the same gravitas as the first two, but was a well-done story on an topic geographically close to my heart. Set on the Richardson Highway between Glennallen and Delta Junction (middle of nowhere Alaska sort of between Anchorage and Fairbanks) is the annual race and party Arctic Man and written about it was "Artic Man: Wild Rides and Crazed Nights at America's Most Extreme Ski Race" by Matt White for SB Nation Longform. It's an entertaining story and brought to mind the also entertaining segment on Arctic Man by the Adam Richman show "Fandemonium" on the Travel Channel.