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The Therapy Sessions
Thursday, December 16, 2004

Sports writing

Writing in sports is hard. The sports pages are usually where cliches go to die. Unfortunately, the people who tend to report on sports tend to be tone deaf in their prose, and hard-headed when it comes to criticism.

When I worked as an editor in college, a writer for my paper (in a piece I luckily had nothing to do with) got in trouble when he said that the Women's Field Hockey Team was manhandled by an opponent. Various feminist groups (my college was very liberal) simply could not believe that this was an honest mistake. The writer was making light of rape, they said, and they demanded the writer apologize (zealots like that have about a much of a sense of humor as a member of the Soviet Politburo), and some even said he should be kicked out of college.

It is refreshing when sports writing is done well. Bill Lyon, the Philadelphia Sports Columinst, has what can only be described as a gift for simile:A tough triumph and a big week off:
Pinkston runs down I-95 to the Carolina border and Donovan McNabb winds up and launches something that disappears from the radar screen. This one, Pinkston reaches and snatches but starts to lose his balance and looks like a man on roller skates coming down a spiral staircase. He makes it almost to the end zone before falling.

I saw that play, and that is exactly what it looked like.

Even when I'm not interested in the subject, Lyon can make things come alive.

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