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October 19, 1990 - Image 10

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1990-10-19

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Fifty Years Of Continuous Publication
Page 10 -The Michigan Daily Centennial Edition- Friday, October 19, 1990

Sports writing
evolves in Daily's
years of coverage
by Theodore Cox
The September 28, 1889,
edition of the Michigan Daily bore
the page one sports headline,
"Many Heavy Men Turned Out to
Practice Yesterday." With that,
Michigan football coverage began
in the Daily.
Sports coverage has changed
considerably since those early
days, but one thing hasn't -
football has always been covered.
Before the turn of the century
only a few sports stories a week
would grace Daily pages. There
were no pictures, and the copy was
straight forward.
By 1930, the sports section
looked much different. It had its
own two page section. Photos
were being used occasionally, and
the sports column had been born.
The sports column has always
been set aside for the senior sports
editors. Each editor picks a catchy
column head phrase such as: From
the Press Box, 1932; Sportscript,
1953; Broad Side, 1969; Raising
IHel, 1984; Miller Time, 1987;
and Gill Again, 1990.
The phrases can be a play on
the writer's name or a cliche.
Along with the column head,
came the writers picture. Every
once in a while, the editors decided
not to run the pictures, but most
years the column heads were
similar to our present day ones.
Other sports writers were not
permitted to write columns until
March 21, 1980 - the birth of
Sporting Views. In a column, the
writer is allowed to offer his/her
opinion on any sporting subject.
Football and men's basketball
are the two sports that the Daily
has always covered thoroughly.
The paper has always been able to
fund low budget road trips to away
games. Writers sometimes spend
the night at fraternities, or with
friends, or they stay at a motel.
Coverage of women's athletics
was minimal up until the last few
years. Women didn't begin parti-
cipating in varsity sports at Mich-
igan until the 1970s. Even then,
women's games were covered
sparsely.
Part of the problem was space.
Up until 1985, the Daily ran
Tuesday through Sunday. The
sports section was allotted two or
three pages with advertisements at
the bottom. With the addition of
women's athletics, there was no
room to cover all sports. But the
addition of Sports Monday last
year solved the problem.
Sports Monday was the first
time the Daily had a separate
weekly section devoted to sports.
In fact, it wasn't until 1981 that
the sports section was separated
with a head at the top of the
pages.
Not only does the eigh~page
Sports Monday give the Daily
more room, but it gives it an extra
day to write the stories. With a
Sunday paper, the sports staff
could give next-day coverage.
However, there wasn't a Monday

paper to provide analysis of the
weekend's play.
The staff has always had around
20 writers on average, a few of
which were women. In the past
year the sports staff has undergone
unprecedented growth and currently
stands at nearly 40 people. Minor-
ities were not included until the
civil rights movements in the
1960s.
The issue of women writers
covering men's sports is still a
highly debated topic. The Daily
was one of the first papers to
bring the debate to Ann Arbor, as
a Daily writer was the first female
writer in the press box.
In the spring of 1968, junior

by Matthew Dodge
Sportswriting in middle of this
century was a Beethoven Symphony.
The style was flowery and intricate.
The tone was romantic and
sentimental,yet always with a touch
of optimism.
Michigan Daily writers placed
adjectives such as "gallant" and
"evil" before the names of players
and teams. The home team was
always the hero. Of course this was
easy to get away with in the days
when University of Michigan
athletics was dominate. No school in
the nation compared to the overall
success of the Wolverines, and the
Daily let all its readers know it.
Fifty football seasons ago, our
nation was embroiled in World War
II. The War greatly affected the
University, and decimated the Mich-
igan sports teams. Student-athletes
and coaches were forced to postpone
their lives to go off to war.
During this period, the sports
writers of the Michigan Daily usedj
much of their ink supply to chron-
ical the comings and goings of the
Michigan athlete fighting in the war.
The Daily kept tabs on former stars
who had been sentoff to train for
duty by playing on various Armed
Forces sports teams.i
On July 3, 1942, the Daily
wrote: "All-American Bob Westfallj
will probably play for the Army's
team at Keesler Field in Biloxi,
Mississippi this fall."
A week later, the Daily reported:
"Flying Tom Harmon will play for
the All-Star Service team which will
clash with the professional
Washington Redskins August 30.
"A lot of people consider it poor
taste to let so many of the nation's
famous athletes do their bit for the
war on Service teams while the rest
of the boys go of to fight.
"But contrary to popular
misconceptions, Service teams are
disbanded immediately following
their schedule and the members are
shipped off to active duty."
To 1940 Michigan fans, Tom
Harmon was a homegrown version
of the Red Baron. He was as big a
hero as Ann Arbor has ever seen, and
Daily writers saw no shame in
glorifying his every move.
Harmon was the most celebrated
athlete in the history of the
University. His playing days ended
upon his graduation in 1940. He had
already become an instant legend,
but when he went off to defend
America overseas, the Daily
practically pontified him.
Daily sports editor Mike Dann
wrote about Harmon on June 25,
1942 under the headline: 'Two Kinds
of All-American':
"With famous athletic figures
being handed exalted Army and Navy
commissions at the drop of a hat
your columnist feels that this is a
good time to talk about an athlete,

Of'

#98

9 r

WW II prose
glorifies Harmon

fall. Cliff dropped out of school last
summer to work in a Defense factory
in Jackson."
The Daily took a down to earth
look at sports during the first full
year of the war. The full effects of
the conflict would not be realized for*
a couple years, but they could
already see that life would not be the
same.
In September of 1942, the Daily
felt the winds of change: "And so
another football season comes to
Ann Arbor - a season that prom-
ises to be a far cry from any within
the memory of any student on the
Michigan campus.
"In the first place, the crowds
won't be the same. People just
won't be traveling long distances to
witness pigskin struggles this year.
They'll stay at home because they
can't get train tickets or because
their tires are too thin, and perhaps,
because they can't wrangle enough
gasoline to fill the tank. And there
will be those who don't come
because they feel its their patriotic
duty to ease the transportation
burden as much as possible."
But once the initial shock of the
war evaporated, the focus turned
away from the departed students. The
paper continued to have periodic
updates about former players, but the
emphasis was squarely upon the
current crop of athletes for several
years.
Sportswriters finally renewed
their war writings when the war
ended in August, 1945. As in the
past, they trumpeted the comings
and goings of Tom Harmon. One
week after the bombing of Nagasaki,
the Daily wrote:
"Harmon received his discharge
last night and left to join his wife
and six-week-old daughter here in
Ann Arbor.
"He had two close calls with
death. The first occurred in Dutch
Guiana in April 1943, when the
bomber he was flying in crashed into
the jungle. Harmon, however,
parachuted to safety. The other
occurredwhen his plane was shot
down over China in October of the
same year. He was found 32 days
later. Harmon holds the Silver Star
and the Purple Heart medals."
The decade of the 1940s meant
pain; pain for players, families, fans,
and writers who languished across
the oceans and anguished here at
home. The war taught them that
Wolverine sports were ultimately in-
significant - except for one reason.
Athletics were a relief that alleviated
the turmoil of human suffering -
especially in Ann Arbor.

who was perhaps, far greater than
any of them.
"In a recent letter to Russ
O'Brien, a close friend here in Ann
Arbor, Tom said: 'The Air Force is
a great thing. You can't imagine the
tremendous advantages that it offers
to any boy who wants to serve his
country. The competition is tough,
but it makes my work a lot more
interesting.'
"That's Harmon for you, no
matter what he is in he gives it all
he's got. He could never stand to
take a back seat in anything he tries.
"That's why he's probably
Michigan's greatest football player.
"All your columnist can say is
'that I would hate like hell to be a
Jap pilot when Harmon is out
hunting Zeros."'
But as the war entered its first
full year, Daily discussion turned to
the post-Harmon Wolverines. As
players streamed out of Ann Arbor
for jaunts around the country and
across the globe, the quality of
Michigan athletics decreased

significantly.
The depletion of coaching staffs
and player rosters greatly hampered
the programs of most schools -
including Michigan. The Daily staff
lamented the Wolverines' inability
to beat Ohio State more than once
between 1942-1944.
Players were not the only ones
needed to defend the country --
many coaches also joined up.
"Athletic roaches are leavir.g
thick and fast for the country's
Armed Forces. The University of
Iowa leads all the Big Ten teams in
this department with eight, while
Michigan lost only one."
Daily sports writers focused on
the way in which the football team
was affected by a shuffling of players
in and out of the war cause.
They wrote of a positive change
on July 17, 1942: "Michigan's
athletic outlook for 1942-43 was
greatly strengthened yesterday when
big Cliff Wise, sensational
sophomore baseball and football
star, announced he will return this

Woody Hayes' soi
almost presided
over Dailyites
by Mike Gill
The memories are still pretty
vivid for former Michigan Daily
Sports Editor Bob Wojnowski.
High Street in Columbus was
bustling the night before the 1982
Michigan-Ohio State showdown.
The Daily had just been pasted 25-
6 by the Ohio Lantern in a foot-
ball game. The two newspapers
were departing a bar known as
Surf City a little after midnight.
It was then that Wojnowski
and Daily photographer Brian
Masch entered Daily folklore and
began living a nightmare that later
made them minor celebrities.
A drunk celebrant began
cussing police outside the bar.
When Columbus officers began to
beat him, Masch started taking
pictures. The Daily was planning
to run a full page photostory on
what Columbus was like the eve
before the game. Masch was warn-
ed to stop, but continued to shoot
photos anyway, explaining he
worked for a newspaper and that
this was a public place. The offi-
cers didn't buy the explanation -
a billy club came down upon
Masch. Later he was frisked and
handcuffed.
Then Wojnowski attempted to
save his co-worker. "I was not re-
motely intoxicated," Wojonowski
explained. "I had maybe two or
three beers because I remember
having the stomach flu. They
wouldn't listen to me though. I
went up to the police and
identified myself as a reporter and
said, 'What are you doing, you
can't arrest us.'. He just raised hi
billy club at me and said 'Get the
bleep out of here."'
A more startling thought
entered into Wojnowski's mind.
Masch had his car keys. When the
police weren't looking, Wojnow-
ski attempted to regain his keys.
While pulling them out of
Masch's coat pocket, Wojnowski
felt the strike of a club. Later, he
found himself going with Masch
to jail in handcuffs.
The Daily Duo were charged
with obstructing arrest. Wojnow-
ski also had assault on an officer
added. The official report stated the
sports editor came from behind and
jumped on an officer's back. The
two were fingerprinted, had their
pictures taken, and sent to a cell.
"The whole time we were in
the cell my two biggest concerns
were that nobody would believe us
and that we were going to miss
the game," Wojnowski said.
Finally around 5:00 a.m., the
two were released on their own
recognizance.
But the story was far from
over. The charges were still
pending. The two returned twice to
Columbus - once to hire a
lawyer, another time for a
preliminary hearing.

At the hearing, the pair's
lawyer told them,;"I've got good
news and bad news. The good
news is you've got a judge who is
considered the fairest, most
honest, one of the best judges in
the county. The bad news is that
it's (former Ohio State coach)
Woody Hayes' son."
The humor of such a fact put
the pair's escapade on the page's
of USA Today. Detroit TV
channels said they would send
cameras to cover the trial.
But the prosecutor felt like a
quarterback in a fourth and long
quandry each time he stared at the
long defense's witness list. He
elected to punt, dropping all
charoee if the two sianed a form

0

r

Scoopst Sports has
more than vanill1a
by Theodore Cox
It usually begins with a suspicion.
I think so-and-so is going to be fired.... He must be on drugs to play like
that.... How'd a kid from Detroit get a new Mustang?_
The beat reporters begin asking players and informed connections about
the suspicions. If the reporters receive at least a maybe, the suspicion
becomes a rumor.
The hard part becomes finding someone who will confirm the rumor, on
- or off - the record. If someone is found, it's a scoop - the thing for
which every reporter strives. The Michigan Daily sports staff has had it's
share over one hundred years.
On November 14, 1958, sportswriter Alan Jones broke the story that
Bump Elliott would become the new Michigan head football coach replacing
Bennie G. Oosterbaan. A Daily reporter overheard a Board in Control of
Intercollegiate Athletics meeting. A long time Wolverine coach, Oosterbaan
would be able to remain as a staffer in the athletic administration.
On March 27, 1980, sportswriter Drew Sharp broke the story that Bill
Frieder would be named the new basketball coach, replacing Johnny Orr who
had resigned earlier in the week.
In that same story Sharp wrote, "Indiana basketball coach Bobby Knight
applied for - and was denied - Michigan's head coaching position vacated
by Johnny Orr's move to Iowa State, according to an informed source."
Sharp, now with The Detroit Free Press, explained how the story
developed: "I had just been (at the Daily) a couple of months. So our sports
editor at the time was flying around the office with this rumor that Bobby
Knight wants to come here. The people on the basketball beat didn't want to
touch it. The senior editors didn't want to touch it. I was working that

f

Dear Sports Staff:
President Nixonl was hartened to hear that you. hase
extended youe offer. 'rhe fact is he looks at the
games each oweeed and oaken his own chokce.for fs,.
With all the aspects at the Michi- -fal . tie
competition with thee eightt his h s NCAA card.
Ocides that, n oulcad hope to hat htter this fall
than soesof football'n exprts.

" Y"JI3~. tU ~ flIQIt~~~ .J. i. 1
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