When communications professor Gary Pomerantz watches the Large Sport, he doesn’t root for the groups — he roots for the story.
As an completed sports activities author who has coated the NFL for The Washington Put up — along with a number of Tremendous Bowls, World Collection, Rose Bowls and Wimbledons — Pomerantz is aware of sports activities.
The Stanford Each day’s Cate Peters spoke with Pomerantz for an knowledgeable sports activities author’s tackle the Large Sport. With UC Berkeley as his alma mater and Stanford as his present faculty, Pomerantz gives perception into the Large Sport, its historical past and the way sports activities at Stanford are larger than simply any single recreation.
This interview has been calmly edited and condensed for readability.
The Stanford Each day (TSD): The Large Sport is approaching subsequent weekend. As a Cal graduate, what was your favourite Large Sport second out of your undergrad years?
Gary Pomerantz (GP): I used to be the sports activities editor of The Each day Californian, the varsity paper, in 1980. It was my sophomore 12 months, and Cal had a poor soccer workforce. They completed 3-8 that 12 months and performed in opposition to Stanford and received … it was an upset.
I used to be swept up by this nice rivalry. One of many nice issues about this rivalry is, oftentimes, it doesn’t actually imply something by way of one of many groups or each groups going to a bowl recreation. It’s bragging rights within the Bay Space and, you realize, that provides us a way of enjoyable to it.
TSD: Standing on the opposite facet of the rivalry now as a professor at Stanford, how would you say the expertise and your reference to the Large Sport is totally different?
GP: When one in all my college students is on the sphere, I’m the most important fan they’ve acquired within the stadium. I’ve had a couple of soccer gamers in my class by the years — Richard Sherman and Coby Fleener, who went on to have productive careers within the NFL, had been in my class. When a scholar’s in my class, that trumps any connection to the alma mater.
TSD: Connections to gamers and the groups basically are key to what makes this recreation so significant. Are you able to elaborate on a few of your private ties to Large Sport historical past?
GP: I bear in mind after I was a younger sports activities author in 1982. I used to be on the Put up, and … I mentioned to my editor, “I acquired a characteristic story I’d wish to pitch to you.” And he mentioned, “Positive, what’s it?” I mentioned, “I need to write a characteristic on John Elway.” And he mentioned, memorably, “Who’s that?”
Elway, Stanford’s star quarterback on the time, in fact, misplaced probably the most well-known, or notorious, Large Sport in historical past. Everybody has to know at Stanford and Cal about The Play. I imply, The Play is simply outrageous. You understand, I’ve gotten to know Gary Terrell, the trombone participant who acquired run over, a beautiful man. I coated Kevin Moen a few years earlier than that when he was enjoying for Cal — he scored the landing on the play. I used to be moderating a dialogue about The Play final 12 months at Stanford with Tyler Bridges, who wrote a e-book about The Play, “5 Laterals and a Trombone.” And that’s the great thing about the rivalry — a number of sudden issues have occurred.
TSD: The spectacle is definitely a part of the enjoyable — and Cal’s stunning comeback play in 1982 was undoubtedly a type of memorable moments. Speaking about soccer extra typically, inform me about your expertise publishing a e-book on the Steelers, “Their Life’s Work,” and taking a deeper dive into soccer tradition and the well being of gamers.
GP: The Steelers of the late ’70s received 4 Tremendous Bowls in six seasons, and I went to La Trobe, Penn. as a summer season intern in the summertime of 1981 to write down a characteristic story for the Put up. And I bear in mind occupied with soccer and the price that the gamers who play it pay — and concussions entrance and middle in that regard. The middle of that workforce was Mike Webster, the primary participant identified with CTE, power traumatic encephalopathy.
[Football has] tried to regulate, however there’s solely a lot adjusting that may be performed. It’s a violent recreation. And in case you ever stand down on the sidelines throughout a recreation, as I’ve, the physics of this sport are, nicely, they’re horrifying. And after I’m at a recreation watching a scholar of mine play, whether or not the Large Sport or in any other case, I’m not solely cheering for them, I’m rooting for his or her well being.
TSD: Certainly — participant well being is greater than only one single recreation, and it’s essential that the wellbeing of athletes on each side is being prioritized over any rivalry. Talking of your relationship with the athletes, being a professor at Stanford and having college students who’re on the soccer workforce in your class, what have you ever noticed in regards to the uniquely aggressive tutorial setting our soccer gamers exist in? And the way does that affect the gamers?
GP: I train a seminar on specialised writing and reporting about sports activities. I would like college students to have the ability to suppose extra rapidly on their ft; I would like them to have the ability to distill data and discover the essence of a narrative; I would like them to have the ability to enhance in interviews, you realize, no matter which facet of the desk they’re sitting on in that interview. So, it’s a ability set that’s transportable to any subject.
Generally gamers have totally different personalities off the sphere than they do on the sphere. I feel that’s at all times been the case. One of many joys for me in educating a writing course is that I can create an editor-to-writer rapport with my college students. I work onerous with them on their writing, and I get to know not solely their writing, however who they’re, and that’s the enjoyment.
That’s the enjoyable of it, and my college students have made careers with these reporting abilities. Coby Fleener did a few tales for Sports activities Illustrated, and Richard Sherman is now doing sports activities broadcasting with Skip Bayless on “Undisputed” on Fox Sports activities. I’ve college students who weren’t athletes, however who wrote for The Stanford Each day or had been on KZSU radio, and so they’ve gone on to do sports activities or different issues. The enjoyment is bringing everybody collectively in the identical room and taking over sports activities — its historical past during the last century, how sports activities writing has developed and in addition making a workshop for the scholars to change into apprentice sports activities writers themselves.
TSD: It’s inspiring to see how impactful your class might be. Speaking about Stanford athletics extra broadly — how does sports activities journalism play a task in bringing athletes and followers collectively?
GP: I can inform you one in all my favourite moments associated to Stanford sports activities. It’s not the Large Sport, but it surely’s when one in all my former college students, a sports activities author named Chelsea James on the Put up, interviewed a Washington Nationals pitcher named Drew Storen, who was a Stanford alum, and each of them had been in my class — interviewer and interviewee, each from my class at Stanford, representing each side of the coin enjoying on the highest degree in a private means.
That was my Large Sport. That was one in all my greatest Large Video games … I don’t suppose information reporters can create tales or feelings that aren’t there. They will solely write about what is there. So what issues to me is that the video games are coated — that they’re introduced vividly to life on the web page or on the pc display.
Pomerantz says he’s excited to see what charming narrative unfolds at this 12 months’s Large Sport. “I’ll be rooting for an awesome story,” he mentioned. “And past that, I’ll most likely be sporting a impartial coloration.”