Even so, it's not often that a writer must deal with a situation as delicate as that faced by Boston Herald sports writer David Teel on Jan. 22. How, exactly, does one write a piece about the basketball victory of a college team whose campus is still in shock from news of the same day's violent, public kitchen-knife decapitation of a grad student? How can you report a sports triumph in the wake of a human tragedy?
Teel's lede is a visceral and pulsating montage of free throws, fouls and hustle plays-- immediately interrupted by this somber call for a moment of silence:
... and then it's on to a blow-by-blow narrative of three-pointers, left blocks and jump shots culminating in a 78-71 Hokie victory. I have to admit--although I've been known to holler at the Jazz, hold Michael Jordan in the same regard as Darth Vader and suffer active depression for a week following the 1997 NBA Finals--I rarely so much as glance at the sports section. Still, Teel's lively reportage makes for great reading.
This was also an evening of tragedy at Virginia Tech, a campus all too familiar with such. Authorities reported a fatal stabbing at the university’s Graduate Life Center and said a suspect was apprehended.So before hailing the Hokies for their admirable performance, pause for a moment. Think of the victim, her loved ones and the unfathomable events that surround us.
I keep wondering, though. At some point, Teel must have been grappling with the question: Mention it? Leave it alone?
How do you deal with such a sensational tragedy in a sports story--considering that, since it was an away game, the team was not subject to the campus lockdown? Was the team even aware of the murder prior to the game?
Should Teel have simply omitted mentioning the tragedy? Or did he handle it well?