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Thursday, October 24, 2013

What Hits A Home Run In Sports Writing?

Bill Littlefield in his pre-Only A Game days, interviewing legendary sportswriter Roger Angell. (Only a Game)

Bill Littlefield in his pre-Only A Game days, interviewing legendary sportswriter Roger Angell. (Only a Game)

What defines good sports writing? Two men at the top of their craft join Here & Now’s Robin Young to answer that question.

Bill Littlefield is host of the NPR show Only a Game. He’s also a terrific writer. One of his stories was chosen for the 2013 edition of “The Best American Sports Writing.”

Pulitzer Prize-winning author J.R. Moehringer is the guest editor of this year’s anthology. But 15 years ago, Moehringer’s and Littlefield’s roles were reversed.

When Littlefield was the guest editor in 1998, he picked one of Moehringer’s essays to be part of that year’s collection.

We take the opportunity to speak to both authors about what makes good sports writing.

Interview Highlights

Bill Littlefield says good sports writing is good writing, period

“I don’t think there’s anything different in terms of what makes sports writing great and what makes writing great,” Littlefield said. “What makes writing great is you listen and pay attention, and then you present people as they are, and you perhaps teach your reader, or bring your reader along on some kind of ride that tells them something about what it means to be here.”

Moehringer compares reading great sports writing to watching a great game

“It kept dawning on me over and over, that my reaction to a great piece of sports writing was not unlike my reaction to a great game,” Moehringer said. “There was something that just riveted your attention and suddenly all the things on your to-do list and the lateness of the hour, everything else that was on your mind moments ago, was gone.”


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