Old School Sports Writing in the Washington Post

The lede grafs of Chuck Culpepper’s Washington Post game story—on the top of page one of Sunday’s sports section—about Notre Dame playing Virginia

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Unmitigated joy already flowed out of the Upper Midwest this calendar year toward the outnumbered sorts who wore Virginia orange Saturday in Notre Dame Stadium. It came from Minneapolis in April. The well-informed may have heard about it.

But wait: Could the sliver of orange tracing down toward the venerable field Saturday, and the blob of orange in the upper deck just above, dare crave something almost as dreamy from the football realm? Certain moments of No. 18 Virginia’s scrap with No. 10 Notre Dame, such as a three-point halftime lead, suggested that they could. Three whiplash plays harrumphed that they could not.

Notre Dame’s 35-20 win under a sky that brooded and then brightened traded on three plays that doubled as near-triplets, especially two doozies from the third quarter. . .


  1. Barnard Collier says

    I don’t know that the overly-cute, ponderous, long-winded, too-clever-by-triple, pretentiousness from whoever the Washington Post writer is has much to do with old-time sports writing.

    To my ears it’s almost a mockery and perhaps that’s what it was meant to be and I simply miss the point.Red Smith, perhaps the best sports writer of the 20th century, never wrote such glutenous gabble.

    When I worked at the New York Herald Tribune my sports writing hero was Red Smith, a writer even Ernest Hemingway admired. If you desire an appetizer of Smith’s skill, the following link is to an excellent story from the New York Times Sunday Magazine about Red and his work.


    A neat paragraph in the story by Ira Berkow (no slouch as a writer himself) offers a glimpse of the philosophy of a fine writer and the kind of man Red actually was.

    “But he once wrote that, ‘I flinch whenever I see the word ‘literature’ used in the same sentence with my name. I’m just a bum trying to make a living running a typewriter.” Frequently asked about the so-called ‘significance’ of writing a sports column, he said that his contribution might be ‘to the gaiety of nations’ and asked ‘Does everybody have to do something “significant”? I’ll leave “significance” to the political writers.’ ”

    So, under a sunny, un-brooding sky with no dreamy doozies in sight, I hope good 21st century sports writing will go down Red’s road, which was clear, clean, and almost always arrived somewhere worth going to.

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