When communications professor Gary Pomerantz watches the Huge 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 Submit — 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 Huge Sport. With UC Berkeley as his alma mater and Stanford as his present faculty, Pomerantz supplies perception into the Huge Sport, its historical past and the way sports activities at Stanford are larger than simply any single sport.
This interview has been flippantly edited and condensed for readability.
The Stanford Each day (TSD): The Huge Sport is approaching subsequent weekend. As a Cal graduate, what was your favourite Huge Sport second out of your undergrad years?
Gary Pomerantz (GP): I used to be the sports activities editor of The Each day Californian, the college paper, in 1980. It was my sophomore yr, and Cal had a poor soccer group. They completed 3-8 that yr 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 sport. It’s bragging rights within the Bay Space and, you understand, that offers us a way of enjoyable to it.
TSD: Standing on the opposite aspect of the rivalry now as a professor at Stanford, how would you say the expertise and your reference to the Huge Sport is completely different?
GP: When one in all my college students is on the sphere, I’m the largest fan they’ve bought within the stadium. I’ve had a number of soccer gamers in my class by means of the years — Richard Sherman and Coby Fleener, who went on to have productive careers within the NFL, have 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 normally are key to what makes this sport so significant. Are you able to elaborate on a few of your private ties to Huge Sport historical past?
GP: I keep in mind once I was a younger sports activities author in 1982. I used to be on the Submit, and … I mentioned to my editor, “I bought a function story I’d wish to pitch to you.” And he mentioned, “Certain, what’s it?” I mentioned, “I wish to write a function on John Elway.” And he mentioned, memorably, “Who’s that?”
Elway, Stanford’s star quarterback on the time, in fact, misplaced essentially the most well-known, or notorious, Huge Sport in historical past. Everybody has to know at Stanford and Cal about The Play. I imply, The Play is simply outrageous. You realize, I’ve gotten to know Gary Terrell, the trombone participant who bought 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 yr at Stanford with Tyler Bridges, who wrote a guide about The Play, “5 Laterals and a Trombone.” And that’s the great thing about the rivalry — plenty of sudden issues have occurred.
TSD: The spectacle is definitely a part of the enjoyable — and Cal’s surprising comeback play in 1982 was undoubtedly a kind of memorable moments. Speaking about soccer extra usually, inform me about your expertise publishing a guide 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 time intern in the summertime of 1981 to write down a function story for the Submit. And I keep in mind desirous about soccer and the associated fee that the gamers who play it pay — and concussions entrance and middle in that regard. The middle of that group was Mike Webster, the primary participant identified with CTE, persistent traumatic encephalopathy.
[Football has] tried to regulate, however there’s solely a lot adjusting that may be achieved. It’s a violent sport. And in case you ever stand down on the sidelines throughout a sport, as I’ve, the physics of this sport are, nicely, they’re horrifying. And once I’m at a sport watching a scholar of mine play, whether or not the Huge 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 sport, and it’s vital 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 group in your class, what have you ever noticed concerning the uniquely aggressive tutorial atmosphere our soccer gamers exist in? And the way does that affect the gamers?
GP: I educate a seminar on specialised writing and reporting about sports activities. I need college students to have the ability to suppose extra rapidly on their ft; I need them to have the ability to distill info and discover the essence of a narrative; I need them to have the ability to enhance in interviews, you understand, no matter which aspect of the desk they’re sitting on in that interview. So, it’s a ability set that’s transportable to any area.
Typically gamers have completely 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 arduous 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 have 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 likewise making a workshop for the scholars to grow to be 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 Huge Sport, however it’s when one in all my former college students, a sports activities author named Chelsea James on the Submit, 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 stage in a private approach.
That was my Huge Sport. That was one in all my largest Huge Video games … I don’t suppose information reporters can create tales or feelings that aren’t there. They’ll 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 yr’s Huge Sport. “I’ll be rooting for a fantastic story,” he mentioned. “And past that, I’ll in all probability be carrying a impartial colour.”