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Home > Publications > Quill > SDX Awards: Newspaper sports column writing


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Friday, June 30, 2006
SDX Awards: Newspaper sports column writing

Winner: Tim Dahlberg — The Associated Press

By Chris Speckman

It only seems appropriate that the work of Associated Press columnist and boxing writer Tim Dahlberg would pack a punch.

“Tim Dahlberg reaches out with his pen and touches readers’ hearts and minds,” said the judges. “He seeks out sports figures other writers overlook … and tells their stories with compassion.”


He brought the cigarettes along, but left the motor home behind. The nearest Hooters is 340 miles away in Nottingham, meaning dinner consists mostly of what they call take-away over here.

In a place run mostly by stodgy old guys in coats and ties, John Daly walks around in a big blue shirt adorned with more sponsors than a NASCAR racer. The shirt has to be big just to get it over his prodigious belly, but the side benefit is that there’s more room to sell on it.

Daly’s caddie trails behind, lugging a garish blue and gold bag covered with “RedNeck” and even more logos. Zip it open and you almost expect to find a six-pack inside.


When writing about former major champion golfer John Daly, Dahlberg hits the funny bone of his readers by letting the details speak for themselves.

In other pieces, Dahlberg uses the same astuteness to deliver a different kind of emotional blow.


Off came the warm-up jacket, the buzzer blew, and Ryan kind of half hopped, half ran onto the court, his left leg trailing slightly at an odd angle.

The noise was deafening as he ran out on the court.

In the stands, Justin Belflower was near tears. A few years earlier, he was a jock at Clovis East, one of those big men on campus. He knew how hard his kid brother had worked for this moment.

“If you had said four years ago he’d play in a varsity basketball game, I’d say stop lying because it will never happen,” Justin said.

On this afternoon in February, it did.

And Clovis East would never be the same.


In his column “Ryan’s Shot,” Dahlberg shares the story of Ryan Belflower, a disabled student whose 3-pointer on senior night inspired a community extending far beyond his high school.

After the story graced the front pages of newspapers across the country, Dahlberg discovered Ryan’s long-distance shot had far-reaching implications.

The author recalled an e-mail that was sent to him from a 52-year-old quadriplegic.

“He said that the day before he’d just decided to give up on life,” Dahlberg said. “But when he read the story he said: ‘I am renewed. I want to be there for my wife and kids.’ ”

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