If I were a real sports writer, I’d have cachet. I’d have press passes, direct lines and occasionally even minions on cadetships to do some of the hard yards for me. My name and/or organisation would have a presence large enough for me to travel the world to speak to folk who would be honoured to receive my calls and be interviewed for my stories.
Where would I go, who would I call, and what would I ask?
- I’d start by speaking to an Olympic-Final’s worth of sprinters who have been suspended at some stage during their career for taking performance enhancing drugs, and ask them how on earth we’re supposed to believe that Usain Bolt is clean.
- I’d speak to a US Open Semi-Final’s worth of anonymous linespeople and ask “So, would you have foot-faulted Serena?”
- I’d put the head of the International Golf Federation in a room full of softballers, baseballers and squash players and ask him to explain the value of his sport being in the Olympics come 2012.
- I’d commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Sydney Olympics this year by speaking to a bunch of Aussies about the lasting impact of the event on their lives. I’d speak to medallists, also-rans, didn’t-quite-make-the-teams, volunteers, family-members, fans, those who have benefited from the infrastructure, someone who deliberately left Sydney to avoid the Games, and of course Fatso the Fat-Arsed Wombat.
- I’d track down the men who pretended to be wheelchair-bound during the 2000 Boston Marathon and won the event only to be disqualified. And I’d also seek out some of the “6-12 people” who are “quietly disqualified” from the marathon each year.
- I’d reunite the selectors of the USA Basketball team for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, and have them recount their deliberations about who should be selected for the Dream Team.
- While on basketball, I’d seek out men who still lose sleep over decisions they and their colleagues made in war-rooms on various NBA Draft days. I’d start with the men who made the call to take Bowie over Jordan in ’84, and the men who chose Milicic in ’03.
- I’d gather pairs of players from a range of team sports – one a superstar who didn’t win a title, and the other a lesser-known player who won one. I’d ask them whose career they would have preferred to have had. I’d start with Nathan Buckley and Nic Fosdike, before moving on to Dan Marino and Jeff Hostetler.
- I’d visit St.Kitts and Nevis on Kim Collins Day.
- I’d track down the family of the woman who was the 9th best Australian rower in 2004 – the one who wasn’t in the boat because Sally Robbins was.
- I’d visit Stockholm and spend time in the area in which Elin Nordegren grew up, to find out the townspeople’s opinions of Tiger Woods.
- I’d find the chemist in Florida who accidentally gave the Venezualan horses at the World Polo Championships the drugs which put them to sleep permanently, to try to learn how one copes after such a tragic mistake.
- I’d scour the globe for parents of lowly ranked professional boxers and participants in the Ultimate Fighting Championship and ask them if all of those hours changing nappies and dealing with toddler-tantrums were worth it now that they’re regularly seeing their son have his head beaten in by more proficient opponents.
- I’d find the man who taught Roberto Baggio to take penalty kicks as a child, and find out whether or not somewhere deep inside he felt like he too had let his beloved Italy down that day in 1994.
- I’d find the man who taught Sidney Crosby how to handle a stick as a child, and find out whether or not somewhere deep inside he felt like he too was responsible for the uplift in Canadian national pride that day in 2010.
So that’s what I’d be writing about if I was a real sports writer.
But I’m not a real sports writer, dear reader. So you don’t have the chance to read any of these stories this week. Instead, all I can offer you is what you’ve already read.