The local business I work for has raised money for charity, collected food for the hungry, and toys for poor children at Christmastime.So what? Every other business in town does the same thing. The problem is that no one wants our help. Why? Because we're a strip club. Apparently the money, food, and toys become tainted and evil as they pass through our door, unfit for use. Our help is unwanted because we do something that is seen a wrong by outdated moralists who have no idea what they're bashing.
Who are these people to refuse help to those that need it? Isn't that contrary to their goals? Do they have enough? Have the problems of poverty, battered women, hunger, and homelessness been solved? I wonder if the people they're supposed to be helping care where their assistance comes from. "What?! This food came from a food drive at a strip club? No thanks, I'd rather let my family starve!" Unlikely.
I could go on for a while about what's wrong with indie papers' sports coverage, but I'll just paraphrase Woody Allen: 'It's terrible, and the portions are so small.'-Jeff Merron
Well, it only took us eleven years, but Ace finally has a sports column.
For over a decade, we've been hearing vague rumblings in this town about bleeding blue, but frankly, we thought it was just some obscure reference to old money.
We've noticed that a rather large structure sits at the corner of High and Broadway (the one they paved over a neighborhood for), but we thought that's just where people go to see a KISS concert.
And we seem to be spending a lot more time sitting in Saturday afternoon traffic this fall, but then again, Nicholasville Road's always a disaster.
In reality, sports coverage is something we've wanted to add for several years, but we had to find a writer who was capable of offering a legitimate alternative to our readers. C'mon, it's not as if the daily paper and local television stations have left gaping voids in this sector. There are so many members of the press huddling over every ball with such obsessive glee that it's a wonder there's any room left for the fans (as if there's any distinction).
There are people in the news business using slogans professing their True Blue status, and working as an informal PR arm of university athletics. That's just disturbing.
There are many sources for sports reporting in this town: who won, who hurled what through which apparatus, who's been hired and fired, numbing statistics, along with a lot of braying that passes for "color" or "flavor," and so on.
Our standard for what we wanted to read in sports coverage definitely isn't available in a daily; it isn't even available in the excellent (and discernibly alternative) sports pages of our Mother Ship, the Village Voice. (Though they do pass the ultimate test in that they provide compelling reading for people who never plan to set foot in New York, much less attend a sporting event there.)
THIS is more what we had in mind:
"This saw Boone: the bluegrass, the virgin land rolling westward wave by dense wave from the Allegheny gaps, unmarked then, teeming with deer and buffalo about the salt licks and the limestone springs whose water in time would make the fine bourbon whiskey; and the wild men too...the dark and bloody ground."
That's how William Faulkner began his celebrated 1955 derby essay for Sports Illustrated when Swaps beat Nashua.
Which is not to suggest that we thought we'd discover the next Faulkner (necessarily), only that we were committed to finding a WRITER who happened to know sports - not a typist, not a stenographer, not an ex-jock looking to relive his glory days, nor a wannabe jock looking to live out his fantasies.
When we got serious about the search this summer, and asked around, to see if such a person even existed, one name came up repeatedly: Jeff Zurcher.
His j-school mentor, Maria Braden, described him as "perceptive, smart, tenacious, and a wonderful writer."
He was a safety for the UK football team in the mid 90s, graduating with a double major in English and Advertising in 1998. He was an Academic All-American and a Rhodes Scholar semifinalist, and then went on to get a masters degree in international politics and commerce from the Patterson School of Diplomacy. He was a regular columnist for The Kernel in the late 90s- an avocation he enjoyed so much he decided to do an independent study on column writing. That turned out so well, he ended up presenting his paper to the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. He's now a producer for The Slant on Fox Sports Net, among other things (in his spare time, he's Director of Corporate Communication for a pharmaceutical company).
In this week's column, he introduces himself to the readers. It doesn't have much to do with sports, which is ok by us. He says future columns will, and that's ok too. We trust him.
We expect great things from a guy who got so involved in a high school term paper on the Kennedy assassination that he actually went to Dallas to do his research.
Jeff knows sports, and Jeff knows Beowulf. Maybe that's true of a lot of sports writers, but we haven't met that many of them. Maybe it's too bad that Rhodes Scholar thing didn't work out. But we look at it this way, Oxford's loss is our readers' gain.