Here at Awful Announcing, and across the sports media world, we spent a lot of time talking about TV. And while TV is a fun and dynamic medium (and, more importantly, pays the bills) we sometimes forget the less-heralded heroes of sports media: the writers. So with that in mind, we launched a feature in which we recap the highlights of the past month of sportswriting, including some recommendations for stories you may have missed.
Without further ado, here’s the best in sportswriting from the month of February.
Oral history of the month:
Inside the art of the dunk; by Jonathan Abrams, Bleacher Report
This isn’t quite an oral history, but it’s something arguably better. It’s a beautifully designed multi-media examination of the dunk’s evolution through the eyes of some of the highest fliers in NBA history, with Vince Carter in the starring role.
(And by the way, Jonathan Abrams’ oral history of The Wire is a must-read for anyone who loves that show.)
Column of the month:
I’m the wife of a former N.F.L. player. football destroyed his mind; by Emily Kelly, New York Times
You’ve probably read a lot about the NFL’s head-injury crisis, but you probably haven’t read anything quite like this. It’s a really remarkable piece that will make you once again question what it means to be a football fan.
Blog post of the month:
These are the 100 best quotes from the first half of the 2017-18 NBA season; by Alex Wong, Uproxx
“January 9, 1989.” — Michael Beasley, on when he started feeling the hot hand.
“I’m like the brother that just got out the pen.” — Nick Young on joining the Splash Brothers.
“His dad was talking sh*t so I took him out early.” — Luke Walton, on why he pulled Lonzo Ball in the first quarter.
The month in sportswriting news:
- Stop us if you’ve heard this before: The Athletic is expanding. The ever-growing subscription-based site announced new hubs in New York, Cincinnati and Dallas, while adding baseball writers in those cities plus Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Houston, San Diego, Arizona, St. Louis and Kansas City. The Athletic now has beat writers covering 22 of MLB’s 30 teams.
- In other Athletic news, the site is reportedly interested in buying Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight from ESPN.
- Three reporters in Washington D.C. have launched The Sports Capitol, a subscription-based site that will cover the area’s sports teams.
- A fan impersonating Tom Brady’s agent tricked Boston Herald columnist Ron Borges into reporting an entirely fake “scoop.”
- Deadspin has a new editor-in-chief: Esquire, New York and ESPN alum Megan Greenwell.
- Vox Media laid off about 50 employees, including a handful of SB Nation staffers, mostly from the site’s news desk.
- Rest in peace longtime Boston Herald Bruins beat writer Steve Harris.
Stories of the month:
In Oakland, Jon Gruden Is Ready to Grind; by S.L. Price, Sports Illustrated
Come for a compelling profile of one of the most interesting men in the NFL, stay for the description of Jon Gruden’s crazy book/movie/play idea.
My taper’s keeper: Inside the world of NBA barbers; by Haley O’Shaughnessy, The Ringer
The world of NBA haircuts is more interesting that you would have likely ever thought.
Why Mark Appel, perhaps the biggest bust in MLB history, is stepping away at 26; by Joon Lee, Bleacher Report
Bleacher Report pulled off something we don’t see much anymore: a strong scoop within a well-executed feature.
A play call for the ages and a (backup) QB that amazes: How the Eagles won Super Bowl LII; by Greg Bishop and Ben Baskin, Sports Illustrated
It will never not be amazing how Sports Illustrated turns around brilliant multi-thousand-word post-Super Bowl features in time to close the magazine a day after the game. This piece artfully melds stories on Nick Foles, Howie Roseman, Doug Pederson, Vince Papale and more.
She killed 115 people before the last Korean Olympics. Now she wonders: ‘Can my sins be pardoned?’; by Chico Harlan; Washington Post
This story on a former North Korean spy who once bombed an airplane in an attempt to sabotage South Korea’s Olympics isn’t really about sports, but it’s close enough. Most importantly, it’s really good.
This piece on a Super Bowl scavenger hunt that included black magic and the tireless pursuit of a mini-fridge is also not really about sports, but it is extremely clever and fun.
A Macedonian tennis racket; by Ben Rothenberg, Slate
Darko Grncarov convinced the world, including Serena Williams, that he was a budding star, becoming a progressive hero in the process. In reality, he was an amateur and a conman.
And the three must-read stories of the month…
The LaMelo Show; by Mirin Fader, Bleacher Report
Of all the things written about the Ball family over the past year, this might be the realest. It’s a behind-the-scenes look at LaMelo’s expedition to Lithuania that makes the whole production look not glamorous but in fact downright sad.
Inside the Corrosive Workplace Culture of the Dallas Mavericks; by Jon Wertheim and Jessica Luther, Sports Illustrated
This expose, which revealed a culture of sexual harassment at Dallas Mavericks offices, sparked a vital conversation about workplace misbehavior in sports and led directly to a new NBA hotline.
The search for Jackie Wallace; by Ted Jackson, New Orleans Times-Picayune
This piece went viral and for good reason. It’s a remarkable, highly personal story of a onetime football hero who spiraled into addiction and was lost, found, lost again and… we won’t spoil the ending.