Kauf Drops: Writing a Different Story

There's more to the story than just the player carrying the ball.

How many times do you watch a baseball game, either on television or live, and then go home and read the recap of the game you just saw?

Maybe five percent of the time? Ten percent?

I often feel bad for the writers who have to do that. I can’t imagine having to watch a game and write a recap that you know most people aren’t going to read.

Why?

Because most don’t care.

They saw it and they’ve already made up their own opinion about what they saw so they aren’t going to pull up their favorite website and read something that has no opinion at all. Just a recap of what you saw with your own eyes.

I sat up for a long time on Wednesday night watching the movie, “We Are Marshall.” I know the story of what happened and I know what came next. We all know that even a movie made of a true story has a little twist in it here and there. A small scene, or small dialogue, that most people know probably didn’t happen but they throw it in there anyway just to give it a little bit of a dramatic flare.

To give you “the feels” so to speak.

It makes you watch the next scene. And the next. And the next.

I bring this up for a reason. I bring up a movie about a true event and a recap of a game we already saw.

When I was growing up, my grandfather would put the sports section of The Fresno Bee down on the breakfast table and wait for me to sit down. I would skim through some of the stories, picking out the ones that really held my attention, and then he would ask me what I thought.

He would never give his opinion; he would just ask me why I thought that way about what I had just read.

I didn’t know at the time why he was doing it but I know now. He was doing it because he wanted me to have my own opinion about what I was reading. In this case, I should have my own opinion about the game I’m watching on television or live from the seats inside the stadium.

It’s why I don’t read the reviews of a movie. It’s not my opinion. It’s the opinion of someone who gets paid to write mostly negative reviews because it’s easier to tear something down than to encourage it or build it up.

I’m not going to write something I don’t believe and I’m not going to suck up to a team, whether it’s high school, college or professional, just because they want to see me write a certain something or say a certain something.

It’s not the games I love the most. It’s not baseball, the number one game on my favorites’ list; it’s not high school football or even college football. Don’t get me wrong, I love watching those sports as a fan and I’m the biggest Fresno State Bulldogs’ fan in the state of Texas no matter how bad this team has been since Derek Carr left for the NFL.

I love the players. I love rooting not for the numbers on the front of the jersey but the name on the back. I love a good story about a comeback player who’s coming off an injury or someone that beat the odds to make it where they are today. That makes for an incredible story.

Why do you think ESPN does so well with the “30 for 30” pieces they do? Because it’s not a recap. It’s not something you already know. It’s about people, places, games, and details you knew very little about and the story behind all of it.

There’s a story coming up that I’m excited about. It’s about a high school coach, who happens to be a good friend of mine, and someone whom I admire a great deal. Not because he’s a coach, though that has my respect in a totally different way, but because of the man, father, and husband he is.

Those are the stories I love.

Don’t believe me? Find a copy of Prosper Magazine for the month of June and read the piece I did on Prosper Eagles’ infielder Easton Murrell who was about to graduate and head to college at the University of Arkansas on a baseball scholarship. It was a piece that I was, and still am, incredibly proud of. It was a piece that, after I got done editing it, reading it more than a dozen times before submitting it to the team who published it, I still to this day will tell you that it was one of the more enjoyable pieces that I’ve done in quite some time.

Why? Because it was personal to me. Because it was about a young man I had been watching through his baseball, as well as football, career for four years in high school. And it was for the two people who raised him who made myself and my family feel welcome from the minute we had anything to do with the Prosper community.

Recaps aren’t fun. They aren’t something you’ll ever see me look back on as something that I enjoyed and it’s not something that I will ever look back fondly on as a proud moment in my writing career.

High school football in the state of Texas is one of the more fun events to be at on a Friday, or even Thursday, night. If you enjoy the game, and you enjoy the atmosphere, try watching it with a different perspective.

Try watching a few particular players you know a little about but want to know more. Watch how the coaches handle the players or how they handle a certain situation. Don’t just watch the game in front of you because you’ll miss the little things. And those little things might end up in a story written by someone who loves the little things and the players involved in those little things.

Why?

It becomes a story that the writer will look back on as something he, or she, had a blast writing. Pieces that they will always look back on and never forget.

A piece that will never get lost in a sea of other recaps of games most of us could care less about.

I’m not saying writers shouldn’t enjoy recaps and I’m certainly not going to look differently at the ones who enjoy it.

I’m telling you about me. And, to me, there’s more to a game than who won or lost or who had the most passing yards.

It’s about the players on the field. It’s about their impact. And it’s about their story for the four years of their high school career.

That’s where my enjoyment is.

Where is yours?

About Todd Kaufmann

Growing up in San Diego, CA, Todd made the move to Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas in the spring of 2008. Since then, he has covered events such as the Byron Nelson Classic, the Colonial Tournament, the AT&T Cotton Bowl, numerous home games for the Texas Rangers as well as high school football around the metroplex. You can also find some of his written work in the weekly Prosper Times and monthly Prosper Magazine. He and his wife Kerri make their home in Little Elm, Texas with their daughter, Hannah, and yellow lab, Ranger. Contact: Website | Facebook | Twitter | More Posts

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