Star Search: Star Fumbles KU Game Coverage

It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents…

When I heard of the KU football team’s miraculous win over Georgia Tech Saturday I went straight to Kansas City’s news source – the Kansas City Star – for the tale of the tape. Had it been a nail biter, a see-saw battle whose outcome was only determined in the closing seconds? I wanted the straight scoop, the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Instead what did I get?

A drawn out exercise in overwrought sportswriting by Star sports reporter J. Brady McCollough. A story that actually kept me from the information I sought. For five complete paragraphs it tap danced before giving even the game score.

Surely now, I then thought, the who, what, where, when and why would settle in and I’d learn what happened.

No way.

On McCollough rambled for another 14 – seriously count ’em – graphs before even relating that KU quarterback Jordan Webb completed four passes in the first quarter on KU’s second possession.

By then frustration had set in. I wanted to read about the game, not some sportswriting homer waxing Homer. KU’s win was not the Iliad nor was there a reason to send readers on an odyssey of purple prose.

What’s purple prose?

“Prose so overly extravagant, ornate, or flowery as to break the flow and draw attention to itself,” one definition reads. “Purple prose is sensually evocative beyond the requirements of its context. It also refers to writing that employs certain rhetorical effects such as exaggerated sentiment or pathos

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20 Responses to Star Search: Star Fumbles KU Game Coverage

  1. Anonymous says:

    Spot on. The talent is layed-off & gone. The quality of the Star is dropping much faster than newspaper industry fundamentals. Anymore its just ads and bird cage liner.
    But the quality of what I’m able to absorb online is refreshing & invigorating. Just as you had to go to Atlanta J-C to get the real story, I’m loving the myriad of options and quality available online from all over the globe.
    Good riddance Star.
    But Hearne, KCConfidential sure isn’t setting this new online world ablaze. How many months ago did I hear about the pending revamp here? 6 or 8?
    Its past due. I always bitch about the KC Star website but this one isnt much better- very bland & rudimentary. Its the same format you launched. Whats the hold up?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Really, Hearne? That’s all you got? You’re scraping the bottom of your anti-Star bile barrel.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Relying on the Star for simple, concise, accurate reportage of anything is like planning on your ex drunk dialing you to come over and play Sodom and Gomorrah with her and six of her sorority sisters. (note), I mean you as in all of us not “you” specifically.

    If you’re not gonna watch the game and care in the least bit, sign up for “ALERTS” from ESPN or any of the other two dozen sites that offer similar service.

    Your continued high expectations for the Star are NUTS! Battle’s over, nobody wins, nobody loses, life ain’t fair, Z-MAN and FANNIN still have their jobs.


    There are lots of other ways to get damn near instant info on people, places, things and events you care about delivered straight to your damn phone.

    OK Andy, Barney, Opie, Aunt Bea, Floyd, Goober, Gomer, Otis, Thelma Lou and that other chick Andy was strummin! Move along, nothin to see at the Star any more.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Burman Dinstow
    This isn’t necessarily about writing talent. It’s about editors adapting copy to online needs. Decades ago, when people learned about game results from the newspaper, the lede was pretty matter of fact. “XYU upset heavily favored ABC State…” The media evolved, and most people get their results before they see the paper, so game stories are altered so that they are “good reads.” Featurized ledes with lots of after-the-game interview and perspective…and organized to withhold the payoff — the final score.
    Now it’s 2010, and newspapers, via their web sites, are back to being the first source of results for many, but the fossilized dinosaurs who manage the newspapers haven’t evolved. Breaking stories need to have breaking-style writing (inverted pyramid); a newspaper web site is the same as a wire service when it comes to breaking news. Save the fancy writing for when we have time. But–one way in which this is about writing talent: Too many writers at The Star and other papers believe that they are “artists” and that writing an inverted pyramid is somehow beneath them.
    HC: Well said, Burman. What I noticed over my 16 years at the Star is that the majority of reporters were really just people who wanted to be (and often thought of themselves more as) writers. Wordsmiths, but butt kickers looking to raise a little heck and tell it like it is.

  5. Anonymous says:

    mark x
    I ALWAYS read the hometown paper of the teams Kansas City Chiefs.KU.KSU.MU play to get the straight poop on a game.

    Simple, concise, accurate reporting? The Star?


  6. Anonymous says:

    Steve Vockrodt
    That’s how a lot of sportswriting is these days, particularly in daily newspapers. I’m not sure why it evolved this way. I’m not necessarily saying this is Brady’s problem, but I suspect a lot of beat writers get too close to the teams they cover and almost seem to want to fawn over their subjects. Hey fellas, the players and coaches aren’t your audience.

    The other thing could be that a lot of these writers are raised on high school sports writing where you’ve always got to make the significance of a game seem like more than it is and that the players are better than they are. It’s funny, but I’ve been around enough athletes to know that the athletes take losses and disappointments much better than fans and parents do (and sportswriters, for that matter).

    Either way, I pretty much resort to Yahoo!Sports for my sports new coverage. There are so few talented writers and columnists elsewhere, and none that have the guts like Yahoo! has to take their subjects on.
    HC: It may be the way it often is here but it’s not the way the story was told in Atlanta. Or Lawrence. Check ’em.

  7. Anonymous says:

    PucKChaser, Hearne,
    HC: Thanks! I’ll remember that next time.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Jayhawk Fan
    Sounds like when Mr pot met Mr kettle, and call him black.

    and for any dumbassracistfreaks (e.g. the king of racist tony) wanting to go call racism, RELAX, that was an idiom.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Jim Fitzpatrick
    Good job of contrasting the two accounts, Hearne. The comparison really tells the story. Kudos to Robertson for weaving color into his informative account. I’ve read a lot of Brady’s stories, and he has much to learn.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Hello everyone, just thought I’d offer my thoughts as the person who wrote the story in question. Basically, a lot of time passes between 2:30 p.m. when the game ends and Saturday night (online) or Sunday morning (print) when people read the account of the game. Whether you enjoyed the writing or not, I don’t think sportswriters are doing their readers a great service by detailing play-by-play of what happened in the game. I figure that most of the fans who cared about the game watched it and know what happened. So I try to give them the perspective of the players who they cheer for. In general, if you’re looking for play-by-play, you probably aren’t going to enjoy my game stories.

    Anyway, thanks for reading, and I certainly appreciate the constructive criticism.

  11. Anonymous says:

    That picture pretty much says it all. If you’re looking for straight, dry, play-by-play action, you probably have to go back to an out of date era. In 2010, 98% of people that are reading a game cover in a local newspaper about a local team have already watched the game in person or on TV. The informed reader feels as though they are wasting their time being told by a sportswriter exactly what they’ve already seen with their own eyes. The true fan goes to the local beats for something more, something in depth, something that helps us relive the experience we just had on a different level. That’s exactly what Brady’s story does here.

    A place like Yahoo! sports is still aiming for a dry boring story with just the bare bone facts, because it’s a national site tailored to a national audience. If people are reading their site, it’s because they’re probably interested in what else has happened around the country that they maybe don’t know about yet.

    Your nostalgia for the good ole days is all well and good, but the Star is playing a sheer numbers game to retain whatever readers they have left. More people want that extra level of experience, because if you don’t know what happened in the game in this day and age of technology, you’re already on the outside looking in.
    HC: Hey Josh, no nostalgia here. Play by play would have boored me to tears. Check out the Atlanta newspaper account or the Lwrence Journal World’s. I just wanted a few details to give me a feel for how it went down. Did you even read the Star game story?

  12. Anonymous says:

    Thanks, Brady. You’re a stand up guy for standing up.

    But play-by-play isn’t what I was looking for. Nor was it what the Atlanta or Lawrence provided. They did however provide quite a few more details of what happened in the actual game than your story. It wasn’t until pretty much the tail end of your story that you touched on a detail or two about what went down on the field.

    I would counter that most people that have an interest in the game did not watch it. Most ardent fans may have, but there are many levels of being a sports fan. From fair weather to fanatic.

    Lots of people care about KU – especially if there is a huge upset like on Saturday.But they may not have had time to attend or watch the on TV or listen on radio. Or they may not have had access to the broadcast. And in this case, many KU fans were expecting the worst and probably didn’t go out of their way to watch what they expected to be a slaughter. Had this been a game KU was expected to be competitive in, a lot more people would have likely tuned in.

    People have work, families, vacations, golf and tennis games, you name it. Include me in one of those categories, running wild with my kids.

    But once I found out KU had upset Ga Tech I wanted to know a little about the game. Not just that a week of epiphanies lead up to it, followed by exuberance and vindication. A few details about how it went down.

    Your writing and story were very passionate but I had to look elsewhere for any information about the game.

    Check out Atlanta’s game story if you want to see my point. Hardly a play-by-play, nor was it a passion play.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I don’t play by play either….but I would like SOME facts in the story. Often, the Star ‘buries the lead’, or even doesn’t include the facts that are PERTINENT to the story (such as who, what, when, where or how). It isn’t just you, Brady. But it IS frustrating. I go to the Star’s site less and less all the time.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Hearne,I think you’re a little bit out of touch with local sports fans. We WILL go out of our way to watch our beloved teams no matter how good or bad they might be

  15. Anonymous says:

    Jim Fitzpatrick
    I said Brady’s got a lot to learn, but my hopes for him have soared now that I see him write a very reasonable and completely non-defensive explanation of his approach to the story. Congratulations, Brady. Your open-mindedness will help you grow. And I will keep reading.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Agreed, sometimes people who care have obligations that prevent them from watching KU games live, and when that’s me, of course I want to find out what happened.

    The thing is, I don’t need the Star for that – I can get the facts anywhere, and fast. What I want is more than just surface level coverage, because I follow the team on more than just a surface level. I want more thoughtful analysis, nuanced takes, interesting reads about the people taking part in the games. When you can actually watch what happened within about 30 seconds of reaching a computer (or your own DVR, or even your phone) why would you read a beat writer for anything else?

  17. Anonymous says:

    Jayhawk Fan
    “”JimmyD Says:
    September 13th, 2010 at 10:17 pm
    Hearne,I think you

  18. Anonymous says:

    John Altevogt
    Agree with Fitzpatrick’s comments. Good to see an informative dialog. Now if we could just see a little bit more of Brady’s approach from The Star’s higher ups.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Hey guys did you know Hearne really liked the AJC and the Journal World’s stories of the game? I was just saying that in case you didn’t know.

  20. Anonymous says:

    I’m a huge sports fan and avid KU football fan. Let’s say it was a beautiful fall day and I decided to take my daughter to the zoo instead of watching the KU game. Here’s what I would do:
    -Check out the score on my phone.
    -When I get home, I’d go to or Yahoo! Sports to see HOW KU won or lost. I’d see full stats, drive charts and an AP style recap of the game.
    -The next day I’d read the LJWorld and the Star for the KU beat writer’s game account and to see if a columnist covered it.
    I’d venture a bet that most ardent sports fans would follow my progression, therefore they would already know what happened on the field or would just naturally look elsewhere for box scores/PBP.

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