Saturday, February 20, 2016

How Sausage is Made

Rob Oller's piece on the new Jesse Owens movie in the Columbus Dispatch today told me more about him than his subject. In it, he dances back and forth between the reality of who Owens was a man and Owens the myth. While he understands the difference, Oller ultimately appears let down to know that his childhood hero was a mortal man with flaws and scars, just like the rest of us.

"I respect the pursuit of accuracy. But the child in me believes in some benefit of not knowing how the sausage is made." - Rob Oller, "Owens' flaws don't diminish the man"

I'll have to see the movie to fully understand what he means by that, but I get what he's saying and it tells me a lot about the writer. Not wanting to know the details or inner workings of things, even a moment of turning a blind eye, is the how and why we get into big issues that we cannot untangle.

I'm not a writer. I am a person who enjoys the process. The parts of my brain that fire up and start making connections when I come across something inspiring... is a drug. The creative process is similar to painting, for me. Once it hits you, you know it and you begin working what it is on your mind and in your heart. Maybe all your organs. Maybe something cosmic enters in there, too.

From that point on, YOU become a sort of life sponge. By the time you are reaching for your pallet knife, grabbing the brushes and finding something to paint on you are taking in that / this particular moment in time. Once you start painting, all points between your head, heart, and your hand become a filter. Sometimes you'll know the result, sometimes not. That is what makes it beautiful.

Sports columnists all over the country go through this process multiple times a week. Opportunists, they watch the athletic world around them and strike at an angle they seem interesting, will sell papers and (most importantly) are low risk. There are some that view sports from the outside looking in and others that merely work within comfort zone bubbles.

It is easy to determine which is which in regards to the Columbus Dispatch. And that is fine. There are many, many that have the same voices, it's only the team color schemes and scale that change.

Maybe that should change, though. Maybe the idea of a Sports section in the newspaper should be limited to facts, figures and a few nice photos while everything else surrounding the game should be left to writers in the other sections of the paper.

The voices we are left with writing in the "sports" section these days are completely ill-equipped to handle the upper levels of sports, college to pro, local to global. Think about the complexity of what a Buckeye football game brings to the Columbus area. From pay for players to new buildings on campus to the Blue Jackets and their arena deal, to MLS single entity, to professional contracts of players, to the USSF and FIFA, to the lawyers, business professionals and all the kings men that make it all go.

If they were looked at honestly, warts and all, these items show up in just about every other section of the paper other than the sports page. Keeping them within the boundaries of the "sports section" of a paper or online news outlet allows it to exist in a sort of fantasy playland and enable the business side to take advantage of people and communities instead of being part.

It's time we took a good long look at how the sausage is made and shuffle along the folks that see any benefit to looking the other way.

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