I was an avowed daily reader of the Washington Post Sports section throughout middle and high school. The Post trails behind the NY Times, The Wall Street Journal, and maybe a couple others in overall prestige. But there’s no way any newspaper ever assembled a more impressive stable of sportswriters than the Post those last golden, pre-mainstream-Internet-journalism years.
That staff included Tony Kornheiser, Michael Wilbon, Thomas Boswell, John Feinstein, George Solomon, Mike Wise, Sally Jenkins, Tracee Hamilton, Leonard Shapiro, Andrew Beyer, Norman Chad, and even occasional contributions from all-time legend Shirley Povich. And that list is probably missing a few names slipping my mind.
Almost any one of those guys or gals could have been a main attraction, but the fact that they all converged to one paper is borderline miraculous.
Kornheiser and Wilbon had the most distinct voices (Boz not far behind them), so it was little shock that they were destined for bigger things, courtesy the immensely entertaining PTI. Kornheiser in particular was my favorite goofy cynic. Nobody cracked jokes in writing quite like him. He would also write comedy columns for the Style section that were just as good as his sports stuff. I was bummed he didn’t work out on MNF.
The Post sports section covered everything in and around DC: the Wizards (née Bullets), the Capitals, and – when at last we got an MLB team- the Nationals. But the Post has always known that the heart and soul of sports in the DC area is the Redskins. The Skins got the most coverage and the best coverage.
It’s hard to say what the most memorable moment was from those years because the coverage was so consistently good. But the rehiring of Joe Gibbs and their amazing playoff run in ‘05 stand particularly strong in my mind. Maryland’s basketball title in ’02 was great, also.
It goes without saying that the internet has blown up the tradition of sportswriting. I could probably write 25,000 words on the topic, but I’ll spare you. The changes have been about two thirds for the better and one third for the worse. Two tallies in the “worse” column, in my mind, are 1) the dissolution of the thousand-ish word sports column as a tractable unit of sportswriting, and 2) the disorganization of sportswriting talent. I miss the days when I could open up to Section D of the Post to get a varied, compelling, authoritative snapshot of Washington sports.