There are two kinds of reactions sports writers evoke. There are those who ask how they can waste so much time and energy on mere games that overgrown boys in short pants play. And there are those who are told by those who know no better that theirs is a dream profession.
In a riveting piece, S.L. Price describes being on the beat. Each morning, he says, readers open up a newspaper to see who won the game. Each morning, sportswriters open up a newspaper to see which writers won the battle for the best lead, best quotes, best information, best kicker, best assessment of that game.
“If you’re any good as a writer, you’ll be able to grasp and then channel just a bit of that; if you’re really good, you can do it night after night. But now and then you get it all: the dramatic home run, the perfect quote, the most perceptive take on what everyone saw, and then, if you’re even luckier, you see the story clear in your head and get time enough to hammer it into your keyboard.
“The crowd’s fever, the joy and misery of winners and losers, the running down the musty arena hall to the press room alchemizes into a rhythm in your head and you’re lining it all up, paragraphs gliding off your fingers like freight cars on greasy rails, and when you’re done your stomach is rattling and you’re as high as any drink will get you.
“You captured time. You bottled passion. It will be gone the next morning, but you saw it, you got it, you wrote it in a way that sounds close to true. Most likely, no one will know. Not the readers just looking for the score. Not the editors consumed by press runs. Maybe not even your competition, obsessed with getting beaten. It’s a secret glory, and you must cherish it because it never lasts. You go to breakfast the next morning, buy four newspapers, order eggs and bacon and hot coffee. You read slowly. You wake up later than the rest of the world. That’s the reward.”
Read the full article here: The apprentice