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Sports Writing: Why write about anything else?

POSTED February 19, 2011
BY Rick Wilson
Twitter: @scribewilson

                                    Sports Writing: Why write about anything else?

            Every once in a while somebody will ask why I don’t write something else. You know like cover towns and politics or other aspects of life. The answer is simple – because sports have it all.

            Tears and smiles, tragedy and triumph, animals and people, people who are animals, the tender and the tough, events to remember, renditions of national anthems to forget, people and performances, the bold and the beautiful, heroes and villains, personalities plus, the odd, outrageous, the dull, the drama, the unexplainable.

            What else is there?  I mean if the choice is to go watch Lewis Mills win a BL girls basketball title and see if Dennis Fowler has his pink tie on and the hair moussed up a little or to watch Torrington High running back Brendan Lytton run for two miles against whoever the opponent is as opposed to sitting through a meeting deciding the tuition rates to attend The Gilbert School, it’s kind of a no-brainer.

            Now sports writing on the local level has its drawbacks. First of all the pay isn’t much better than a good Girls Scout cookie seller makes and you know typing in dart results phoned in from the local brew master at 9 p.m., isn’t exactly a job perk, but the plusses have a big edge on the minuses.

            Sports have a big heart and I’m stealing this one (along with the whole column idea) from Rick Reilly, probably the best darn sports writer this country has. Reilly is the M*A*S*H of this profession. He can make you laugh and cry in the same column while getting his message across. Brilliant.

            Back to the heart. It was just this week that the already mentioned Mr. Fowler set it up so that senior Tara Plocharczyk could step on the court one more time during Mills’ perfect season to share one more moment in the final regular season game with her teammates and a memorable campaign. Plocharczyk was sidelined early in the season with the second major concussion of her career and the playing part is over.  Plocharczyk made it on the court and quickly came off, but it was a moment to grasp on to.

            Sports gives us heroes, not be confused with heroic performances. Twenty-two years ago and aspiring high school basketball star at Torrington High School named Chris Samele was involved in a horrific car accident that severed part of his leg and killed cheerleader Shawn Collins. Almost a year later, Samele was back on the court with a prosthetic leg resuming a career while rebuilding a life and a dream.  In some ways what was far surpassed what could have been on the court.

            Sports give us the moments that live on. In back to back years (1995, ‘96, the already mentioned far too many times Dennis Fowler, and Matt Kalin sank shots to win state basketball titles for Terryville and Lewis Mills respectively. Three seasons ago, Thomaston’s Nic Johnson tomahawked a fifth inning pitch over the fence at Palmer Field in Middletown for a grand slam home run to give the Bears their first ever state title. Remember Sarah Royals’ four-point play against Holy Cross recently that got more publicity than Malloy’s new budget proposal.

            You don’t get this stuff at a planning and zoning commission meeting unless the cops have to eject somebody or there’s a riot because they town dump will be closed.

             Sports give us the best nicknames. How about the Little Noises of Hale Ray.  There’s my wife’s softball teammate, Holly ‘Wheels’ Beardslee, who really has no wheels left (injuries). Then there’s the late Bummer Pollock.  What about Muffy Gomes and Sleeper McMahon. Half the world doesn’t know their real names.

            Sports gives us the best rooting sections – Litchfield’s Blue Crew, Nonnewaug’s Tribe, the Crusader Crew and the list goes on. It’s been a while since I heard any kind of formal cheering at any kind of department meeting.  Do they stand up at cabinet meetings going, `Barack, Barack, he’s our man?’ Or, `You can’t do that.’ Or, `He’s a sophomore.’

            Sports give us the unexpected. Heck, one night at the then Civic Center I heard a familiar gravelly voice and turned around to find I was seated next to legendary Celtics announcer Johnny Most. In a recreation league basketball game once I noticed my friend had disappeared from the court. I found that a player going up for a rebound had clipped his toupee and ripped if off his head. He picked it up, ran out the door and was never seen again. You never know.

            Sports produce the best parades. When Thomaston won back-to-back boys state titles in 1990-91, more than 50 cars and three fire trucks met the team bus at the entrance to the town and escorted their conquering heroes back to the high school. It was a procession that stretched through most of the town and longer than the conga line at six of Larry King’s weddings. I don’t know about the other two or three.

            Sports gives you great friends – Tony Turina, Tim Gaffney, Mike Barger, Gerry de Simas, Frank Lombardo, Mike Fritch, Ed Generali, Muffy Gomes, Mike Gamari, Fred Williams  and on and on.

            Sports are real, entertaining, special and important. What else would you want to write about?

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