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Home > Publications > Quill > SDX Awards: Sports Column Writing


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Tuesday, July 3, 2007
SDX Awards: Sports Column Writing

Winner: Geoff Calkins, The Commercial Appeal

by Jim Poyser

The family had to figure out how to get the body home. It turned out they don’t embalm people in Italy. So they had to ship the body to an American. And meet with the people at the Embassy. And how can anyone prepare for a race during all that?

Calkins, sports columnist at The Commercial Appeal for the past 11 years, said his columns “are about love and grandfathers and absurdity and addiction and hypocrisy and big-time sports and small-town America. They’re not about games.”

Judges said the first-place award went to a writer “with outstanding versatility and keen reporting. Calkin’s two tales of loss were among the most vivid and moving stories submitted. With a sharp eye for detail and an attuned ear for rhythm, Calkins tells wonderful stories.”

Calkins said he likes to “find good stories, stories that transcend sports, that move people. When you look hard enough, you’ll find them. One column … is about a kid who hit a foul shot at an elementary school field day. It was much better, and more meaningful, than anything I got from a week of covering the Super Bowl.

Sports Illustrated picked Dwyane Wade as its Sportsman of the Year, and I suppose that’s a reasonable choice. He won a championship with the Miami Heat. He seems to be a decent enough guy.

Also, the people at Sports Illustrated probably never heard the story of Jack Williams. He’s only 11, after all.

Jack didn’t win an NBA title. He wasn’t on network TV.

But for several hundred who crowed into the PDS gym on March 9 of this past year, Jack became the freckled embodiment of everything good and pure about sports.

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