Spencer Hall imagines what would happen if Grantland Rice were to submit his most famous article to a certain future ESPN site.
Thank you for the submission, but we unfortunately will not be able to use your work on our new website. We are looking for voices who echo a tradition of innovative, moving sportswriting that is at once young but timeless, emotionally moving but with a eye towards clinical critique, and infused with a creativity that never ceases in its quest to expand the parameters of sportswriting.
To expand on this, I’d like to just offer a few pointers for you in order to help you in your future work.
Outlined against a blue-gray(1) October sky, the Four Horsemen rode again.(2)
1. Hyphenates are a no-no. Just say “sky.” Shorter is always better. This is always true. Trust. Me.
2. Wrestling references are a little low in the class department. This one is dated, too. When you write for us, think: “Would Malcolm Gladwell know who this is?” If not, don’t include it.
I bring all this out to show the parallels between sort of post-modern (for lack of a better term) sports writing on the internet, twitter, blogs, and the like, and the greatest sports writing ever, which has very little to do with the alternatively obsequious or bellicose 800 word columns and maddening boilerplate recaps we have become accustomed to.
“The Four Horsemen” would not have been published by a reputable institution anytime in the last fifty-years. By modern standards, it is not a very good sports story. It is merely the greatest sports story of all time.