If Only News Had a Scorebook and a Means of Keeping Score

(Monte Dutton photos)

Clinton, South Carolina, Wednesday, May 2, 2018, 11:03 a.m.

By Monte Dutton

My preferred form of journalism is sports. It’s the source of most of my experience. Recently I’ve been writing lots of news. It’s interesting. I derive some satisfaction. I’ve done it before from time to time.

On Tuesday night, sitting in the home grandstand of Wilder Stadium and snapping occasional photos of the Class 3A playoff soccer match between Clinton and West-Oak, I felt more at home. Sports involves more human drama and less splitting of hairs and reading between lines.

Outcomes are more obvious. A football player either makes a catch, or he doesn’t. When a basketball player stands at the free-throw line with three seconds left, he makes it, or he doesn’t. Even as thousands watch, it’s a matter of the player, and a ball, and a hoop 10 feet off the floor.

It’s just a game. Or a match. Or a race. The far-reaching effects on the world, or the country, or the state, or the county, or the schools, are usually not directly relevant.

The Duke of Ellington supposedly said, “The Battle of Waterloo was on the fields of Eton,” but he claimed he didn’t. I found an account that the original words were written by Montalembert in something called “De l’Avenir Politique de l’Angleterre.”

That’s Charles Forbes Rene de Montalembert. I can’t say I know anything else of him.

Suffice it to say that sports is way over on one end of micro, and news is way over on the other end of macro.

I’d rather watch a walk-off homer than wonder what really happened in executive session.

But “these are times that try men’s souls.” Thomas Paine wrote those seven simple words in The American Crisis, pamphlets published at the dawn of the Revolution, long before Trump, nuclear weapons, illegal immigration and the opioid crisis.

I will never get the days of Friday and Monday back, but almost all of them were spent making calls, leaving messages, writing texts, interviewing by phone, writing new information, updating the story each time it arrived, and thinking it was done before it was. Now it’s just done for now. It’s hibernating until next year, when the General Assembly will undoubtedly take it up again.

With apologies to Robert Earl Keen Jr., the road goes on forever, and the party never ends.


(Steven Novak cover)

If you become a patron of mine, you’re supporting writing like this as well as my mostly NASCAR blogs at montedutton.com. If you’ve got a few bucks a month to spare, click here.

Another way I cobble out a living is with my books, a wide variety of which are available for sale here.

The new novel, my eighth, is called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Lightning in a Bottle is now available in an audio version, narrated by Jay Harper.


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