ESPN’s “Journalism Showcase” – April 22, 2016
Listen as ESPN The Magazine deputy editor Ty Wenger and senior editor Paul Kix talk with Wright Thompson on his latest cover story on Tiger Woods’ secret life after his father’s passing. Excerpts are read by deputy editor Otto Strong.
ESPN The Magazine and ESPN.com senior writer Wright Thompson’s feature, “The Secret History of Tiger Woods,” examines how the once-elite golfer’s life has unraveled since his father’s death in 2006.
One premise in the piece, which debuted online April 21 and will be in the “Fame” issue available on newsstands April 29: Earl Woods’ passing seemed to have set his son adrift, personally and professionally. Woods once had an idyllic marriage and seemed destined to smash any golf records he hadn’t already. In the 10 years since losing his father, Woods’ relationship and game crumbled in a whirlwind of scandal, injuries and doubt.
Thompson’s writing provides tremendous detail about Tigers Woods’ fascination with military culture – a trait that seems fitting given his father’s military background – illustrated with photos of the iconic athlete working with U.S. Navy SEALS. It also features quotes from one of his few athletic peers, NBA legend Michael Jordan (whom Thompson profiled in 2013).
On Mike & Mike and SportsCenter, Thompson answered many questions about writing the piece, which reflects 18 months work.
“If I’ve learned nothing else, I’ve learned that he’s an unbelievably thoughtful and complicated guy,” Thompson, on Mike & Mike, said of Woods. “And you know, the headline is ‘The Secret History of Tiger Woods’ and it could very well be a secret history of Tiger Woods.
“I feel like if you went and talked to eight people who really know him you could conceivably have eight different people describe him and all of them would in some way be true. So I don’t want to say this is the ‘global’ Tiger Woods. He’s a complicated guy.”
To complement “The Secret History of Tiger Woods” ESPN the Magazine’s long-form piece by Wright Thompson, the ESPN Features Unit produced a video segment to air on SportsCenter, Outside the Lines and ESPN digital platforms.
Narrated by Thompson, the video debuted along with the story on ESPN.com Thursday and then aired on ESPN television platforms as Thompson made appearances to discuss the Woods piece.
“The feature gives in short form a feel for the incredible details that Wright discovered in his long journey of trying to get more background on Tiger’s decline,” said Greg Jewell, coordinating producer in the ESPN Features unit. “The TV feature is just a very small snippet of how Tiger has searched over the last 10 years to find what he’s missing since the loss of his father.”
– Andy Hall
- On ESPN.com, Michael F. McElroy writes “Rise Above,” the unbelievable story of high school wrestler Zion Shaver, who was born without legs. Shaver left the wrestling mat to a standing ovation last month. He didn’t win a state wrestling title in Ohio, but he won over a crowd that didn’t know half of what he’s overcome.
- UCLA defensive lineman Kenny Clark Jr. will be drafted by an NFL team next week, a dream he’s accomplished without his father by his side. Kenny Clark Sr. was convicted of murder 11 years ago and has been in prison since his son was nine years old. On Sunday’s Outside the Lines (9 a.m. ET, ESPN), Mark Fainaru-Wada explores the challenges Kenny Jr. has faced, growing up and excelling on the field while his father has been behind bars.
- Also on the subject of the NFL Draft, writer Jeremy Fowler has the story on ESPN.com of how the Browns’ decision to pass on Ben Roethlisberger in the 2004 draft has haunted Cleveland ever since: “The day the Browns passed on Big Ben.”
- In the wake of the shooting death of former New Orleans Saints defensive end Will Smith, gun violence once again reared its ugly head as a topic of national discussion. But there is hope. In Sunday’s SC Featured segment on SportsCenter, Scoop Jackson reports on the New York Rens, an AAU basketball team that has been directly impacted by gun violence, and whose players wear orange patches to raise awareness for the issue. SC Featured: The Patch debuts in the 10 a.m. edition of SportsCenter and will re-air in other editions of the program throughout the day.
- Panelists on Sunday morning’s The Sports Reporters (9:30 a.m. ET, ESPN; 10 a.m., ESPNEWS; 10:30 a.m. ESPN2) will be John Saunders (host), Jemele Hill, Mike Lupica, and Bob Ryan.