I’m going to see how many of my Sports Reporting students at Wingate University really read my blog today.
I told them I’d give them a “shout-out,” in the language of the day, in this space before the semester’s over and here it is.
I have 19 students, mostly either communication studies or sport management majors, in this class this semester and they’ve been a good group. In this class they’ve gained experience in writing a variety of types of sports stories, from game coverage to columns. I try to give them exposure to the history of sports reporting — one student is doing her research paper for the class on columnist Red Smith — but the class also addresses current issues affecting sports journalists.
I’ve enjoyed our recent discussions about media coverage of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s legal issues and Tiger Woods’ news conference and new Nike ad debut during Masters’ week. We’ve also talked about ethical issues in sports journalism — should media outlets have run the surreptitiously-recorded cell phone video of a drunken Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones? — and the relative merits of blogging compared to traditional news coverage.
And one of my favorite aspects of this course is that they (and I) get to go on some field trips which I hope are educational as well as fun. We’ve visited the studios of ESPNU, the World Wide Leader’s college sports network, in Charlotte — where Wingate got its own “shout-out” during a live telecast by studio hosts Adrian Branch and Mark Gottfried. The students have also been to a Charlotte Checkers minor league hockey game — as credentialed media members — and a big group of them will go to a Charlotte Knights minor league baseball game on Monday.
I’ve always offered this class in the spring semester because — as much as I love football — it offers students a better opportunity than the fall to experience a wide variety of sports.
From the old sportswriter’s standpoint, this is my favorite season change.
And April is an especially good time to be a sports fan in Charlotte this year. The Charlotte Bobcats are in the NBA playoffs for the first time. The Checkers are ending their 17-year run in the ECHL with a nice post-season run. (A brand new Checkers team will debut next year in the American Hockey League, as noted previously in this blog.)
As those seasons end, the Knights, the Triple A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox, and the Charlotte Eagles minor league soccer team have just begun their seasons. I’ve covered both for the Charlotte Observer for nearly 15 years.
The Knights are off to a good start at 7-3 with a team that’s made up to a large extent of last year’s Class AA Birmingham Barons, who were in the Southern League playoffs.
The Eagles, who lost in the championship game of United Soccer Leagues’ Second Division (two steps down from Major League soccer) last summer, also have a new look. The Eagles lost the best player in the team’s history when forward Dustin Swinehart retired after an a 11-year career in which he scored more than 100 goals. (If you don’t know much about soccer, trust me, it’s impressive.)
There are lots of new faces and, as usual at this level, the roster was still in flux as the Eagles started their season started tonight with a 3-2 loss to the Charleston Battery (insert your favorite electricity joke here.)
Both organizations are media-friendly and it’s always a fun way to spend a summer. There will be some Knights stuff on the blog for the next few months. The Eagles, who are owned by an entity called Missionary Athletes International, also have some interesting stories and I’ll be following them here as well.