Today, Shaughnessy has a piece on Brigton's high school football championship season. They have gone from 0-9 three years ago to 12-0 this year. All the while, they have had to deal with the indignities of playing Division 4 high school to include the most recent slight of their game not being played at Gillette; all of the other state title games were played at Gillette.
Shaughnessy typically does a good job with these articles. When he has the opportunity to paint a sympathetic tale of a team or person overcoming adversity and obstacles, he is effective. He does a good job of painting the picture (for instance, detailing the long commutes of some of the players) and he taps into quotes from the players who best represent the team's spirit. This article is typical of a good Shaughnessy feel good story.
Shaughnessy will run sometimes afoul in these kinds of articles when 1) he gets overly preachy; 2) he starts drawing analogies with the local professional sports teams; or 3) he starts railing against the injustice of the "system". He refrains today and we are left with a pleasant read.
Edit Add: On a separate but related topic, last week Shaughnessy wrote about the Tri-County league--he blasted the rules that incentivized running up the score in the first half. I did a little statistical comparison between the 2006 and 2007 seasons to see if the numbers backed up this story. Took the game scores of the top 3 finishers in the league for 06 and 07. For these team's wins, the average margin of victory was 21 points in 2006 and 18 points in 2007. I then looked specificially at blowouts which I defined by a margin of victory of 20 points or greater. In 2006, the first half score contributed to 60% of the final margin of blowouts. In 2007, the first half
contributed to 76% of the final margin of blowouts. What does this suggest? Yes, in 2007, there was a larger run-up of scores in the first half...but overall "sportsmanship" really did not take a hit so to speak since the overall margin actually decreased. This is the kind of thing that would make Shaughnessy better--do the research to back up the emotional claims. Makes for a stronger story although I think Shank would also find that the stats would sometimes get in the way of a good story he is trying to spin--God forbid!