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The New Republic: Your New Source for Sportswriting Excellence

I guess all I'd say to ex-student-radical and grumpy old person John B. Judis is this: if you want to write a mean-spirited and comically trivial critique of The Post's sports section that indicts us for, among other things, sloppy grammar, these are a few things you might not want to do.

1) Confuse affect and effect, to wit: "were they effected by the hometown crowd?"

2) Make random mistakes, to wit: friends "sometimes tell me how lucky I am to have to hometown paper like The Washington Post."

3) Confuse plural and singular twice in one sentence, to wit: the Maryland football team's win put "THEM in line for the conference CHAMPIONSHIPS." (And later, twice refer to Wake Forest as a plural entity, which I suppose is how it's done in Britain, but not, typically, over here.)

4) Drop random words, to wit: the story "states obvious and elaborates it with hollow quotes."

5) Drop more random words, to wit: "the ball began to bound into end zone."

6) Write a wretched clause like this: "...The Washington Post devotes exactly one passing sentence toward the end to it." (The end? The end of what? And what's "it?" The subject of a sentence that appeared two sentences above? Is that how you'd like us to write? Is that what Strunk and White recommend?)

7) Make a bizarre claim like this: Florida State is "resurgent" because of one home win over a terrible Virginia team. (Find me the sports minds that believe Florida State is "resurgent" because of that win.)

8) Make a borderline factual mistake, to wit: that Maryland won the game over Clemson on a field goal with three seconds left. There was no time left on the clock when Ennis made that field goal. If you meant Maryland attempted that field goal with three seconds left, you could have said so.

Now obviously, I'm just picking extremely easy nits, albeit with a writer who likely faced a considerably less onerous deadline than we inept Washington Post scribes deal with on a daily basis. (Marc Carig's deadline for last night's Terps game story: two seconds after the final buzzer. Literally.) And obviously, Judis's main beef is not with our bad grammar, but with our leaving certain details out of one game story, like how Maryland officials would respond to a spotty officiating decision. (Answer: call the ACC offices and complain, like they always do in these cases, a process that inevitably results in some sort of nothing and maybe a newspaper story, an explanation which presumably would have filled Judis with love and understanding.) Still, I'm just sayin'.

P.S.: Johnny boy, I used several adverbs in that last graf. Writing instructors often disapprove of the use of adverbs. Maybe that can be your next post, offering further evidence as to why you'd prefer almost any paper to your hometown rag (and its blogging subsidiaries). Seriously fella, go around this great country and read every sports section in every town, and then convince me that you'd prefer almost any of them to our humble daily offering. Hogwash.

By Dan Steinberg  |  November 8, 2006; 11:14 AM ET
Categories:  Media  
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