Friday, June 15, 2007

Puffed Rice: It's time to re-evaluate a sportswriting classic.

By Coke Ellington
Ellington teaches journalism at Alabama State University.

Picture this. You're teaching a journalism course and one of your students turns in a sports story that leads with an allusion to Jewish and Christian eschatology.
The writer uses a simile that first makes one of the teams a cyclone sweeping the other off a precipice. Then the cyclonic team becomes a tank with the speed of a motorcycle. It seems the "four whirlwind backs..carry the mixed blood of the tiger and the antelope." The winning team's line "was just about as tottering as the Rock of Gibraltar."

One of the winning team's backs "traveled those last 12 yards after the manner of food shot from guns."

As you read the student's story, you notice a dozen players and two coaches given only a surname on first reference, although two of them subsequently gain first names.

Objectivity? Forget about it. A backfield is "one of the greatest..that ever churned up the gridiron in any football age." "One of the best of all punters" kicks out of bounds and a "brilliant fake works to perfection."

After reading all that, what would you tell the student?

Read the rest of this article from the American Journalism Review on Grantland Rice's famous story by clicking here.

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