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Collaboration can make sports page more engaging

BAY KELLEY, Sierra Sun

I’ve lost my skating roots.

I still think the skate subculture is one of the coolest things going, but I’ve lost touch with the lingo. I don’t know the names of tricks anymore – I mean, I recognize the names, I just can’t apply them to an action – and, when one of the kids was nice enough to loan me his board at the Truckee Skate Park this weekend, I realized that I don’t know how to ride. I’m clumsy and skate with wings, my shoulders hunched and my elbows poking out at neck level.

Skating used to be my obsession. I used to live and die by the board and would mercilessly mock the poser with wings.

When I was a skater, I was at once a victim, constantly hounded by the “heat” for “riding a plank with wheels” and a rebel with a cause, breaking skating laws to prove a point; that the laws were unnecessary.

I was a little punk, which I still profess to be, just tempered.

I remember I used to flinch whenever the local news would cover a skateboarding event and try to be hip.

“There are lots of cool kids out here getting ready to ‘rip it up’ on the ‘halfpipe.’ Maybe someone will do a ‘hand-plant’ or get ‘big air'” the on-the-scene newscasters would say.

The anchorwomen, with the expected light banter at the end of the feature, would respond with “are you feeling a little old out there, John?” I think even she, in my hypothetical situation, knew that he sounded silly and contrived. This sort of exchange was typical.

Their intentions were good, but their typical news’ voice just didn’t apply. Piecing together phrases with the appropriate jargon simply didn’t suffice. It was lacking authenticity.

I’ve been feeling like the uncool newscaster, lately.

As I ‘expand my horizons,’ becoming a little bit acquainted with the sports and recreational things going on around here, I’m beginning to realize that I’m having difficulty finding the ‘soul’ of the various activities.

I remember that what separated me from the on-the-scene news reporter at the skateboarding events was that I was engaged in the activity he was simply covering. There was more to the sport than he could possibly grasp; struggles with law enforcement, appreciation for well-executed tricks and a life immersed in the sport.

You could hear the quotation marks around the lingo that he used, to me it was a real way of speaking.

It’s the difference between a salon-style family photo with everyone neatly in their place and a candid photo of a Sunday barbecue with friends. One serves to document the components of the family, the other tries to capture the overall mood of the moment, like when the dog stole the meat off the grill. One is shot by a professional who has little acquaintance with the family at hand, the other photographed by someone who is busy chasing the dog.

It does not take a professional photographer to take a good picture.

What I’ve found is that if I’m trying to get quotes for a story, the best thing I can do is find a group of people talking amongst themselves about the event at hand and quietly jot stuff down. When talking to a reporter, people tend to pose. Phrases become overly edited and appropriate.

The point of all this is to say that I want your input.

Next week, the Sierra Sun will feature an article by Scott Gaffney, a local filmmaker, who made a trip up to Canada to do some skiing with some friends. The prospect of having an insider’s perspective on a unique trip and a new (authentic) voice on the sport’s page makes me really excited.

Bruce Ajari’s column, for example. provides weekly coverage during the summer months that benefits local anglers to umpteenth degree. Fishermen/women who read the Sierra Sun and the Tahoe World are very well informed of the conditions and are provided good hints to improve their participation in the sport.

I want more of that.

I will obviously continue to cover as many things as I’m capable in the coming months, but I would jump at the chance to get input or articles from people who have a ‘life immersed in sport.’

To send articles or discuss ideas, contact Bay Kelley at 587-6061. If it’s past 5 p.m., dial extension 15 and leave a message. I’ll return the call as soon as I can.


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