Posts tagged "ESPN"

How do you get a coffee date with a sports-writing legend? You ask

Wednesday morning, on the eve of the women’s soccer final between the U.S. and Japan, I had an opportunity to have coffee in a London Starbucks with Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl.

How did I manage this? The power of Twitter.

I sent a tweet last week saying how cool it would be to get to meet some professional journalists currently in England doing Olympic coverage and included his Twitter handle in it. Less than an hour later, he replied back saying he was getting into London on Aug. 7 and would be happy to meet for coffee. When the alert came on my phone, I had to read it over several times to make certain my phone wasn’t playing a trick on me.

It wasn’t. And after a few tweets back and forth, we had arranged to meet Wednesday morning in Russell Square.

For those who don’t know who Wahl is, I suggest you look him up. He’s perhaps one of the most established senior writers at Sports Illustrated. He’s been a senior soccer writer for SI since 2000 and covers World Cups, the Euro Championships and the Olympic Games. His biography on SI.com says he’s written 31 cover stories for the magazine. And he has more than 230,000 followers on Twitter. Getting the chance to meet and talk sports journalism with him is something I couldn’t pass up.

After getting our coffees, Wahl and I sat at one of the tables and he asked me a few questions about myself. I explained to him what BSU at the Games is and what we’re doing, and he was impressed with what we’ve been able to produce despite not having credentials to events. I also got to tell Wahl what I do for the Ball State Daily News and other events I’ve covered in my short career.

But I was more interested in learning about how he got to SI. He said after his internship at The Miami Herald, he received an offer from SI to be a fact-checker. Having just graduated from college, he said it was too good an offer not to accept. After doing some writing on college basketball and soccer on the side, ESPN offered him a position to be a full-time soccer writer. SI matched the offer, and he’s held the position since then.

The best piece of advice he gave me for trying to land a job after I leave Ball State is to have something on a résumé that makes you stand out. He laughed and said my experience for BSU at the Games will be the thing that makes me stand out on mine.

We talked more on how sports is becoming a big player in social media, especially on Twitter, and his experiences covering some of the major soccer events in the world. The biggest thing he is working on at SI is making sure he is being as efficient as possible because of the costs to send him around the world.

We wrapped up our conversation after about an hour, as he had to get in touch with his bosses and prepare for the women’s soccer final. I left the Starbucks inspired to work my way to Wahl’s level. Being able to cover soccer matches around the world, on its biggest stages, would definitely be a dream job.

Having more than 230,000 followers on Twitter would be pretty cool too.

Mat Mikesell | Sports Reporter

@MatMikesell

So I’m totally an athlete too—if athletes are uncoordinated and weak

I don’t really like sports, but I love sports movies. “Hoosiers,” “Breaking Away,” “Rudy,” “The Blind Side.” I even liked that Brad Pitt baseball movie with all the math.

Movies give you the dramatic climax of the sports experience, “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat,” and very little of the tiresome monotony of practice—unless, of course, it’s in some brief, musically scored montage. Sports movies are for people too impatient to commit to actual sports, people like me who never quite mastered the cartwheel in pre-school tumbling, only lasted one season on the grade-school basketball team, regularly convinced her dad to write her notes to get out of gym class.

It should be no surprise, then, that I love the Olympic Games. They offer three weeks of sports cinema, all those years of numbingly repetitious practice and toil telescoped into a few sentimental minutes of narration by Bob Costas so we can dwell on the crossing of the finish line and the tears on the medal stand. The Games, like a great sports movie, offer us a metaphor for all human endeavor, made more poignant because most of the athletes aren’t superhuman celebrities but ordinary people who committed beyond all common sense to a dream.

I have a dream too. This winter I sat in a chair every single day for six months and wrote a first draft of a book. It was boring and it often sucked and I would rather have been doing almost anything else—although when I did do something else I couldn’t stop thinking about what I would write next. And then I finished. And though nobody called me from ESPN and nobody handed me a gold medal and I remained painfully conscious of all the ways I could have done it better, I had done it. I had beaten my own record, clocked my best personal time, jumped an inch farther than I had jumped before.

It’s cheesy but it feels true. It’s the reason so many people love the Games, even people like me who hated gym.

If they can do it, maybe we can do it. Whatever it is.

Colleen Steffen  |  Features Editor