December 20, 2011

George Vecsey Quitting New York Times Column: George Vecsey is stepping down after almost 30 years as a sports columnist for the New York Times. One of the most prominent columnists in sports who does not appear on television, Vecsey is also known for books on baseball and coauthoring Coal Miner's Daughter with Loretta Lynn. He writes, "If I have one regret -- one pitch I'd like back -- it is my upbeat commentary during the McGwire-Sosa home run frolics of 1998, after Steve Wilstein of The Associated Press spotted androstenedione in McGwire's locker." As for his favorite moments, he writes, "[T]he Olympics and the Tour de France were great, but my eight World Cups of soccer, so far, were the best sporting events on the planet."

posted by rcade to general at 11:08 AM - 3 comments

I think it's a tribute to Vecsey that I had no idea until recently that he was 72. His work has always conveyed an enthusiasm that I'd associate with a much younger writer. He has been the best chronicler of the rise of soccer in the US, and the mainstream press's best communicator of its global appeal. I'll quote the WaPo's Steven Goff:

While most meat-and-potatoes American columnists avoid soccer at all costs, other than to rehash tired 1-0 punch lines, George loved writing about the sport and its importance to most of the world's inhabitants. He gave it a chance, and ultimately embraced it.
Vecsey's first World Cup was Spain 1982, which he recalled when eulogising Socrates earlier this month: "He taught me to love an entire sport, and that is no small thing."

posted by etagloh at 03:42 PM on December 20, 2011

etagloh: You state, While most meat-and-potatoes American columnists avoid soccer at all costs, other than to rehash tired 1-0 punch lines, . I fully agree and I consider this fact to be the most responsible cause in hindering the growth of soccer's popularity in the US.

posted by trueblueroo at 07:37 AM on December 21, 2011

I think there's a generational shift likely to take place, since up-and-coming writers in the US now have exposure not just to Vecsey's sympathetic coverage, but to football journalism and blogging elsewhere. You still see the generic sports-jock hack approach, and the "gentle explainer of foreign game" approach, but over nearly a decade living in the US, I've seen the emergence of an approach that's both native, in that it draws from the general tradition of American sports writing, and smartly informed by the tradition of football writing around the world.

I've said before here that ESPN's coverage could be faulted mostly for its lack of analysis, and they've improved things greatly over the past couple of years. Once there's a native discourse that comes across as comfortably as the one that sustains multiple hours of NFL Countdown or College Gameday (or Inside the NBA, for that matter) then it'll serve as a springboard for the game in the US.

posted by etagloh at 11:23 AM on December 21, 2011

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