Take chances, vary approaches when writing sports columns

Originally published November 2013

Ron Higgins had never left a press box during a football game in his 20 years of reporting. This time, though, he knew he had no choice.

Craig Zeigler, a tight end for Ole Miss, lay on the football field, his leg broken in two spots and twisted in a grotesque position after being leg-whipped by a Vanderbilt player. Teammate Eli Manning said later he could not look at his friend.

Zeigler, Higgins knew, was a beloved teammate who had worked through numerous injuries to earn his starting spot. So after the senior was carted from Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Higgins walked out of the press box, headed to Baptist Hospital North Mississippi, spoke with Zeigler and his father before the surgery, and wrote a column that prompted Vanderbilt’s chancellor to call in praise and the Football Writers Association of America to award first place in a national competition.

“Think outside the box,” Higgins told students at the College Media Advisers national journalism conference in New Orleans. “Think differently. Columns are not just about good writing.”

Continue reading “Take chances, vary approaches when writing sports columns”