Column – Looking back on the experiences of a first-year sportswriter

Justin St. Ours

ESCANABA — With the cancellation and/or suspension of pretty much all sports, it seems like the perfect time for some retrospective bloviating about my experience cataloging local sports and putting out the sports section in hopes of our area readers getting some entertainment value from it or insight into the job.

What follows is mostly a stream of consciousness recollection. Continue at your own risk.

As a bit of background information; before starting the job, I’d had a background in writing, but I’d never written sports stories before. For that matter, I’d never written for a physical medium either.

That’s one of the foremost peculiarities, physical space. The thing that I, or anyone who writes for the paper have to keep in mind is that there’s only so much real estate in the paper to work with, and that real estate depends on how many pages are in a section, how many ads are taken out in that section and what else we’re running.

You’ll notice I didn’t use an Oxford comma in that last sentence to save a character.

In fact, as I write this, I’m watching the character counter at the bottom of my word processor to make sure I don’t go too far over or under what I know we’ll need when this runs.

Covering games, while definitely enjoyable, isn’t all fun and games. Paying attention to every play to make sure you note it down because it may be important afterward, taking good pictures and doing as much live updating on social media as possible can be a handful sometimes.

After the game comes collecting stats from whatever source you can find and interviewing coaches and players if they stood out.

Which, as an aside, I have to mention that 99% of coaches that I’ve had to deal with have been wonderful.

Interviews have also highlighted, for me, the quality of the kids we have participating in sports in the area. I haven’t had a single problem with them, and they’ve been very responsive to what, I’m sure, some of them see as an irrelevant medium.

As a second aside after that aside and relating to pictures, the sports department recently started up an Instagram account where you can find all the pictures we take of events we’re at in crisp digital clarity. We also run feature galleries; for example, there are galleries up showing off the girls and boys scoring leaders for the basketball season to go with the recent articles.

Find our galleries at: @escanaba_dailypress_sports on the app or instagram.com/escanaba_dailypress_sports on the web.

Why aren’t you running X or Y or even all the pictures you may ask? Well, pictures are an odd thing for the paper. Sometimes it’s not about what’s the best picture, but what best represents the game or how the composition of the picture ended up. Sometimes it’s even a space concern. As with the length of anything we write, we also have to choose an appropriate size.

Now, a definite benefit of having to really pay attention to the game is the access to places a normal fan wouldn’t be allowed. This is especially apparent, and welcome, during football season when I get to hang out on the sideline and see the action up close. It’s a real boon for someone who enjoys that sport first and foremost to get to experience the energy with the teams on the sidelines.

A particularly interesting game I had the opportunity to cover was Gladstone baseball’s super-regional win over Boyne City last June.

It was interesting in the sense that for me it was a one-day turnaround, which meant leaving Escanaba at three in the morning, driving five hours downstate, covering both of the Braves’ games that day and driving back to get home around 1 a.m.

If you remember the article, or traveled down there yourself to watch, you’ll remember it was an exhilarating game, but it was definitely one I didn’t mind seeing the end of by the end of the day.

Well, there are other things I could include, but I’m reaching that aforementioned spatial limit, so I’ll have to cut it off here. I hope you found some parts of this illuminating or entertaining.


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