Writing Is Power

Writing Is Power.

Writing is the rhythmic tap, tap, tap of the keyboard.

Writing is sitting down and crafting anything that means anything.

Writing changes people, moves people, frees people.

Writing influences government, science and technology.

Writing sparks debate, provides voice, starts a conversation.

Writing is about a smiling child, a tough time or just a beautiful day.

Writing is a voice for the voiceless, too.

It can change the world–and in today’s world, there is no greater power than that.

S.L. Price on Michael Sam, gay athletes and the future of the NFL

For my next project, I’ve decided to repurpose a Daily story I did in February about gay athletes in college athletics and the culture that surrounds the issue. This issue has taken a national stage over the past few years and especially in the past eight months, since former Missouri football player Michael Sam came out as gay following a breakout season as Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year. Sam was later drafted, cut and then signed to another team’s practice squad. But this issue has roots much deeper than last February, as athletes and teams have shaped a culture for years.

For the Daily story, I had to keep my audience in mind: people interested in Michigan issues, mostly students. For this reason, I framed my story around the experiences of three gay former Michigan athletes. For this project, I would want to have a broader scope, stretching over a longer time period and certainly a much larger area. I would seek to involve not just Michigan but Sam and many others who have faced his conflict: how far this issue has come, where it is now and where it goes from here. I would likely also base it off of overall climate and analysis rather than anecdotes.

The NFL hasn't seen much of the effects of Michael Sam's young career, but more like him are on the horizon.
The NFL hasn’t seen much of the effects of Michael Sam’s young career, but more like him are on the horizon.

A good starting point comes to mind. On Feb. 17, 2014, S.L. Price wrote in Sports Illustrated (full story not available online) about Michael Sam’s journey and the environment he would soon enter into as an NFL player. As a top college talent, there was little doubt Sam would either be drafted or end up on a team’s practice squad by the end of the summer, making him the first openly gay player in NFL history. The cover ran with a photo of Sam, the header “America is ready for Michael Sam” and the subheader “Is the NFL ready for Michael Sam?” Historically, sport has been a starting point, or at least a catalyst, for social change. In the 1940s, Jackie Robinson debuted in the Major Leagues and had an illustrious career long before blacks and whites were even required to go to school together. Price did great reporting by going inside NFL franchises and taking the temperature of a league that has long upheld a masculine, competitive locker-room culture. Because I want to frame my essay from a more overall standpoint, this is a good piece of reference.

 

Brainstorming Project 2 ideas

Sometimes it baffles me how hard it is for writers to work with their own writing. I, for example, often have trouble editing my own work, and occasionally it takes me some time to figure out where I’m going with a particular piece.

It was also hard for me in this project to figure out ways to repurpose writing I’ve already done. But I have a few ideas:

1. I wrote a Michigan Daily story last February about gay athletes and how the environment has changed for them in college sports over the years. This issue, I think, has far-reaching consequences and implications in society; treatment of gay people has been one of the most widely discussed issues over the past decade. In this story, I wrote about several gay former college athletes–three at Michigan, one at Penn–and I referenced the story of Michael Sam, which unfolded around that time last winter. Since then, a lot more has happened on the issue: Sam has been drafted, cut and then resigned, and another player from Arizona State came out to his team before the season. This story could be modified to fit a variety of different themes.

2. I wrote another Daily story in August after the International Champions Cup match at Michigan Stadium between Real Madrid and Manchester United. That game brought all kinds of people with all kinds of different stories to Ann Arbor: fans of both teams, fans from different countries, people from around the U.S. who helped put on the event. Those stories could be told through a variety of different lenses, and I still have the audio files from the interviews, allowing for some sort of multimedia project.

3. I wrote a final English paper in April about the media and a variety of subjects relating to it: understanding biases, handling issues regarding race, sexuality and language, coverage depth and shaping norms. This paper also had a variety of examples pertaining to these subjects, everything from the Daily’s coverage of former kicker Brendan Gibbons’ expulsion, to Hurricane Katrina, to FOX and CNN’s political news coverage, to Sports Illustrated cover stories, to NBA vs. WNBA and ESPN.com vs. ESPNW.com. The issues involved in these situations are critical and can be evaluated in many different ways.

From Little League to Big League

Jake LourimJake Lourim is a senior sports editor for The Michigan Daily, the official student newspaper of the University of Michigan. He covers men’s basketball among many other sports and served as the managing sports editor in summer 2014.

Lourim started sports writing in middle school and knew from a very early age it was something he wanted to do as a career. In high school, he established an independent sports news website covering sports at his high school.

Born and raised in Troy, Michigan, Lourim is from metro Detroit and isn’t ashamed to say it. He loves Aaron Sorkin TV shows, neck ties and his mom’s homemade macaroni and cheese. His favorite memories from his childhood are nights spent on the baseball diamond. He grew up with his parents, brother, sister and dog, Mugsy.