Thursday , Feb , 28 , 2008 C.Y. Ellis

How to Write: A Sneak Peek into the Mind of a Fan

How to Write: A Sneak Peek into the Mind of a FanThe comments sections for most of my articles are changing. It’s getting better. It used to just be posters telling me how much I suck. I stopped checking for a few weeks ago. I was thinking I may have to reserve that name at GoDaddy just to cyber-squat. Now I get things like, “You make some good points [or random observations], but you switched gears [or branched off into another direction].” Finally, someone who paid attention in English class. Also, there seem to be a lot more commentators arguing with one another instead of me, so I’m slipping out of the crossfire.

The thing about the internet is that it has opened up “journalism” and sport “journalism” to more literary and less journalistic types. How many beat writers do you see writing in the first person, using contractions or expressing personal opinions? Oh, sometimes it happens with “sports columnists” or in on the op-ed page, but that is rarified air reserved for only respected and tenured writers.

There’s a huge place for the beat columnist. You need him and I need him. He’s much more highly trained than me. I cannot write this stuff without him. I cannot write about games or the sport without keeping up with the news. However, if you are looking for pure “journalism” in my column, you have come to the wrong place and/or you haven’t been paying attention. If you want, as I need, a rendition of the scores and stats, a brief summary of what went on and a few exclusive quotes then you need to spend some more time reading the beat writers and journalists.

Why are you here, then? Why are you reading this? You want something different, but you’re not sure why. You’re not sure what you’re looking for, but some of you guys come back. Some pop in randomly and others just surf on through. Why? Well, there’s something being said here. Let’s look at what’s going on and see why you might be stopping in (other than the obvious – which is to tell me that I suck).

From a literary standpoint, three things are going on in most of my articles.

First, I like to use Hemingway’s “tip of the iceberg” technique. To paraphrase, “less is more.” According to Ernie, only about 1/9th of the iceberg is above water. What’s going on underneath?

Second, let’s try to examine things a little bit. Remember “The Big Aristotle” saying that “Excellence is not an act, but a habit.”? (Something that Stephen Covey likes to remind us of). Aristotle’s teacher was Plato, and Plato’s teacher was Socrates. Socrates, perhaps the founder of Western Philosophy, founded his philosophy by saying, “The unexamined life is not worth living."

Pretty deep for basketball, right? While some watching the game might say, “Dude, that dunk was cool!” others may say, “Did you see how Barbosa broke to the corner, forcing his defender to cover his potent three-point shooting ability and allowing Stoudemire to get into the post against only one defender?” Although cool dunks were the result in both cases, the latter explains how Stoudemire was so open for that dunk.

Third, things often come out in sort of an Irish-drunken-Joycean way – “stream of consciousness”, that is. This is how most persons think and wonder and dream. Deciphering things into something sort of readable is the hitch. Sometimes it works and sometimes it misses sorely.

The writing, in some respects, flows much in the same manner as conversation flows while watching a game. Like tonight, I was watching the Mavs-Sp*rs game with Bluntman. Watching Dirk Nowitzki, we fondly remembered learning that Dirk hums David Hasselhoff tunes to himself when shooting free throws. This became well-known during the Mavs’ run to embarrassment in the 2006 Finals. From there, we critiqued the new “Knight Rider” series as well as lamented the cancellation of “Baywatch.” From there, the conversation turned to an evaluation of the various +2s over at All during a time-out, too.

That’s kind of how tings work around here.

Oh, what the hell does this have to do with basketball? It’s an examination of watching and talking about the sport, Aristotle.