Inspiration for Writers—And Hope for Student-Athletes

April 23, 2010 at 1:13 pm Leave a comment

Writing, someone told me years ago, is a craft. Great writing teachers can give you pointers and refine your work, but they can’t turn you into something you’re not. You’ve got to learn to do it by actually doing it, and as far as I can tell, you’re never really finished learning. Every story presents its own challenges. You always start with a blank page.

As part of the process—call it my personal continuing education program—I like to listen to other writers and reporters talk about their work. I usually pick up a few tricks of the trade, and I almost always leave inspired.

This photo, by Matthew J. Lee of The Boston Globe, shows what passes for a baseball practice field in one part of Boston.

That was the case Thursday evening, when I heard Boston Globe reporter Bob Hohler speak about “Failing Our Athletes,” a series on the terrible state of athletics in the Boston Public Schools. It won the inaugural Award for Excellence in Coverage of Youth Sports, which is awarded by The John Curley Center for Sports Journalism. (Full disclosure: I’m a board member.)

Hohler reported the series for nine months—nearly an entire school year. He showed up at every school in the city, and he attended games in every single sport. He uncovered details so shocking—a football player living in his mother’s car, students playing with broken ankles because there wasn’t an athletic trainer to diagnose the injury—that they spurred the mayor of Boston and some philanthropists to take action to fix the problems.

“The deeper I dug, the richer the story got,” Hohler said. “It’s a reminder to me and a lot of others that it’s not enough to sit at  your computer and talk on the phone and text people. You really need to get out there and talk to people, see what’s going on. It reminded me that I tend to spend too much time at my desk, as well.”

To which I can only say, Amen. And on that note, I’m headed out of the office, inspired, to see what’s happening on campus.

Lori Shontz, senior editor

Entry filed under: The Penn Stater Magazine. Tags: , , , .

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