It’s rare I buy a book for educational purposes and laugh my way through.
I recently picked up a copy of William Zinsser’s On Writing Well to learn just what the title offers. There is a chapter on sports writing and the following paragraph made me laugh:
The ego of the modern athlete has in turn rubbed off on the modern sportswriter. I’m struck by how many sportswriters think they are the story, their thoughts more interesting than the game they were sent to cover. I miss the days when reporters had the modesty to come right out and say who won. Half the sportswriters think they are Guy de Maupassant, masters of the exquisitely delayed lead. The rest think they are Sigmund Freud, privy to the athlete’s psychic needs and wounded sensibilities. Some also practice orthopedics and arthroscopic surgery on the side, quicker than the team physician to assess what the magnetic resonance imaging scan revealed or didn’t reveal about the pitcher’s torn or perhaps not torn rotator cuff. ‘His condition is day-to-day,’ they conclude. Whose condition isn’t?
Zinsser’s criticism of sports writing is amusing and I enjoy the way he brings their labeling of an athlete’s condition as day-to-day back to the average person. In just three words, “Whose condition isn’t?”, Zinsser reminds me to reconsider not only the athlete’s daily condition, but also my own.
If you are interested in improving your writing skills, buy a copy of this book.