Sports Journalism Blog

By Mike Williams | @MikeWritesSport

Sports Capital Journalism Program

SAN ANTONIO — The United States Basketball Writers Association inducted four sports journalists into its Hall of Fame during the annual honors luncheon on Monday. Lew Freedman of the Cody (Wyo.) Enterprise, David Jones of the Harrisburg Patriot-News, Charles Pierce of Esquire, Sports Illustrated and Slate Magazine and Kirk Wessler of the Peoria Journal Star were honored.

Freedman is a multiple USBWA award winner who now covers rodeos and outdoor sports. He has published numerous books and has won over 250 writing awards. One of his more interesting articles was based upon a 10-day, six-game road trip with the now-defunct Alaska Pacific program. “I think it was a captivating story for people,” said Freedman. He has spent time at Anchorage Daily News, Chicago Tribune and Philadelphia Inquirer during his 40-year writing career.

After graduating from Ohio State, Jones got his start with The Columbus Dispatch. After five years, he joined the Harrisburg Patriot-News where he covers both Penn State football and basketball. “I love college basketball,” said Jones during his induction speech. “I was stunned when I got the call. I smiled all day. I smiled all week…I love all the people who cover college basketball because there are a lot of great stories about college basketball.”

Wessler started his 40-plus year career at The Columbia Daily Tribune. He is a former president of the USBWA. Wessler is currently the sports editor at the Journal Star.

Journalism wasn’t his first career. Wessler originally intended to be a history teacher and coach. “On my first day of student teaching, a student…put his feet up on the desk of a girl across the aisle,” Wessler remembered. “I told him to put his feet down and he said ‘no.’ So I said I quit.”

Although Pierce is currently a political writer for Esquire (which he considers his “other gig”), his career began with his childhood love, college basketball. He appears weekly on National Public Radio’s sports program Only A Game. “We’re in a good profession,” said Pierce. “I’ve always maintained that one of the things that makes basketball great and was Dr. Naismith’s great invention was that he put the goal off the ground, thereby guaranteeing sooner or later something would happen and someone would have to go to it. There are not many jobs where you get paid to sit down and for 40 minutes, you get to watch people fly. I think we all take inspiration from that.”

Other honorees include Joe Castiglione, Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletic Programs at the University of Oklahoma, who received the Katha Quinn Award for extraordinary service to the membership and the media industry. Quinn, the former Sports Information Director at St. John’s University, was honored by the USBWA 30 years ago for her work during the 1987 Pan American Games basketball tournament after being diagnosed with liver cancer. She passed away in 1989.

Nicole Auerbach of the website The Athletic received the Rising Star Award. Idaho State junior guard Sam Dowd was honored with the Most Courageous Award for overcoming a homeless existence as an adolescent. Outgoing USBWA president Vahe Gregorian of the Kansas City Star received the Ray Marquette Award.