The Daily Illini

The importance of storytelling: Sports coverage goes beyond field

By Eli Schuster, Sports Editor

What makes sports so great?”

*raises hand*

Well, I’m glad you asked.

I’ll stand by Grantland Rice’s old saying: “It’s not whether you win or lose; it’s how you play the game.”

For me, that phrase goes a long way. It most certainly isn’t about winning or losing, but often the person playing the game is what makes it so special.

During this past weekend, I was watching the NFL Draft. I’m one of the few who was actually tuned into the Saturday coverage to catch rounds four through seven. I imagine it was me and the families of some hopeful draftees tuning in.

Nonetheless, I love the later-round coverage. The stage doesn’t seem nearly as big and the viewer gets a bit more time to learn not about who is a proven winner, but how these athletes play the game.

Personally, I can’t get enough of watching people who put their heart into what they’re doing. It may seem cliche, but sports are so much bigger than throwing a ball back and forth. While I can rant on this subject for hours, I’ll keep this focused to one point in particular: Shaquem Griffin.

Griffin comes out of UCF and was the 141st pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. He was one of the nation’s best collegiate linebackers and ran a record-breaking 4.38 40-yard dash time at NFL Combine, the fastest by any linebacker ever.

Griffin is also missing a hand.

However, Griffin’s disability has become the least of his worries, and the 22-year-old has achieved the dream of landing on an NFL roster. Even sweeter, the roster Griffin will call home is the Seattle Seahawks, the same team his brother, Shaquill Griffin, has been on for a year.

As Griffin got the call from the Seahawks organization, the powerful moment was caught on video. The two brothers embraced while a room full of friends and family followed suit.

The story of Griffin is worth a closer look, and I recommend digging deeper. His path not only shows how a disability doesn’t define who you are, but it also shows the impact sports can have on an individual.

Every athlete, coach or even waterboy/girl has a story that goes beyond what’s happening on the field, court, course, track or whatever. The power of sports lies within those individuals and not within the 4.38 dash time by Griffin (still very cool).

How a person plays the game also has to do with why they play the game. I sit here in the sports editor position for only a little over a month now, and a goal I hope to continue to pursue is finding out more about why people play the game. The truly great sports stories will never come from a game recap.

Covering collegiate athletics opens the door for a wide range of storylines. Not to mention, a look into non-revenue sports that may not have as much popularity nationwide will lead to some incredibly interesting stories.

No matter the sport, plenty of stories are waiting to be shared and we need to continually stress the importance of telling these stories.

@Schuster_Elias

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