Welcome to my Blog! Hello, my name is MaryLouise and I am a Special Education Language Arts Teacher. I have utilized my lesson plans and other original teaching material to create picture books, workbooks, nonfiction and fiction articles and teacher's guides for educational resources.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Today's Topic: Sports Writing

Do You Have What It Takes To Be A Sports Writer?
Today's interview is with Sports Writer, Dave Lariviere, who holds a B.S. in Newspaper Journalism from Syracuse University with a Minor in History, and a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix. He's worked as a Sports Writer and Editor for the Bergen Record, New Brunswick Home News and the Trentonian . He currently writes blog articles for SportsMoney.com.
MLAC: How can you compare sports writing to other types of writing?
DL: You still use the basic writing models of who, what, when, where, why and how. The pieces have a beginning, middle and an end. What changes is the knowledge and subject matter and terminology. That's the beauty of writing...you can write about a variety of topics but the actual skill doesn't change. You are looking for a catchy way for people to read a story; especially today when you have to immediately grab peoples' attention. It's like a refrain from a song...if it doesn't resonate in your mind,  people will not stay with it. The internet has changed the way people read articles.
MLAC: What are some of the tasks of a Sports Writer?
DL: Some Sports Writers only cover what is called a "beat". They would be the person that would say as their job would cover the NY Yankees. They would go to every game and cover what happens before the game, during the game, after the game, trades, injuries, controversies, etc. Their responsibility is to cover everything that happens to that team. A general Sports Writer would cover all types of sports...from High School level all the way up to the professionals.
MLAC: Can you tell us about some of your earlier experiences?
DL: I started at the high school level, covering every high school sport. I talked to athletes, coaches and went to the games. These are the young men and women in our town that we could be proud of.  I wrote about...what motivated them, how they got interested in the sport, what other activities they were involved in, etc. Most Sports Writers start at the local level; covering little league, Pop Warner in the community. In a way it humbles you because you come out of college and think you know everything and that you deserve to cover professional sports. You see kids at a grass roots level, the way sports should be played. And a big part of it is...you have to capture the passion of the athletes and of the moment. High school students are very passionate; maybe more so than professional athletes who have been interviewed millions of times.
MLAC: What inspired you to go into sports journalism? Any hopes of being a professional athlete?
DL: I have a tremendous passion for what I do. I really think that any kind of work that you do, you should have a tremendous passion for it. I've wanted to be a Sports Writer since I was 12 years old. It's something I wanted to do for a long time. Baseball was my favorite sport when I was growing up but I was a bad athlete. I realized this pretty early when I couldn't hit a curve ball and I could barely hit a fast ball. My parents wouldn't sign the permission slip for me to sign up for football. I had the skills but not the size.
Most Sports Writers probably wanted to be professional athletes. They kind of live vicariously through the athlete. There is that kind of respect...you realize that these guys are doing things that I could never do.
MLAC: Do you have a favorite assignment?
DL: I just did something recently that I was really proud of. For an assignment, I went to a school in Brooklyn, New York called the Medgar Evers College Preparatory School (MECPS) and it's basically an all African-American Charter School for grades 6th-12th. What they require for the 6th,7th and 8th grade, (with no options) is for these students to learn Chinese. I interviewed teachers, principals, and kids. It was amazing to me about how excited the kids were and how much they were learning. There was a high level of excitement and involvement for these inner city kids learning about the Chinese culture, dances, songs and language. When I interviewed the kids, I asked: Why be interested in learning Chinese? They thought it was really important and the teachers made it fun and fascinating for them. I felt really good about this story and got a lot of great feedback from the kids, teachers and staff members. They felt, because of the Chinese influence in the world this would be a major initiative in the school. To read more about the Confucious Classroom Program go to:
MLAC: What sort of challenges or obstacles have you faced? 
DL: A funny one early on...I was a terrible typist. I actually failed typing in high school because I couldn't learn the method where you put your hands on the keys and learn every letter. I used the hunt and peck method and still do to this day. That is a barrier and an obstacle that I still have to overcome. I was never a good typist and the other thing is, I was kind of shy in high school. Talking and interviewing people...you have to be outgoing to be a journalist. People are confiding things they sometimes don't want to reveal, may be painful, part of the past that they would like to leave in the past, and things they did wrong that they may not want to admit. I had to transform myself from an introvert to an extrovert. And it didn't happen overnight. It transpired over time and I got better at it with each interview. I gradually became more comfortable with people. It's akin to public speaking...you get over the initial fear the more you do it.
MLAC: Please share your thoughts on what makes a good sports writer/interviewer.
DL: You not only have to be comfortable with talking to people, but you have to get people to feel comfortable with talking with you. They have to feel able to talk to you about things they wouldn't normally reveal to others. A good interviewer has to be a good listener and remember that the interview is not about you. You have to listen to what they are saying and ask the next question. You go in with a set of 10 questions and then the interview goes in a different direction and something surprises you, then the whole interview would be about that new subject...a new direction. If they take you to a new direction where you didn't expect, then go there. And follow up with what is just said to explore more in depth. Be flexible and adaptable and able to relax.
MLAC: Any parting thoughts?
DL: I remember what it was like when I started out as a Sports Editor. I really like working with young people and teaching them about writing and getting started. Some people did that for me and I want to give back and help the next generation!
To read more articles written by Dave Lariviere go to:   www.forbes.com/sportsmoney

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