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My Letter to the Editor

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Yesterday, as I’m sure the vast majority of you are aware, the Oklahoma State football beat writing position was opened up by Oklahoman sports editor, Mike Sherman. He asked for a cover letter, writing samples, and examples of digital work from potential candidates.

Since I am in fact applying for this job, how about all of my digital work? This blog has become my de facto resume. It has all my writing, the good of it, the terrible, the untimely puns, and the painstaking essays. It’s all here. All 410 posts. I’ve been writing for far longer than the duration of this site, but this is all that’s public.

As for that cover letter? Enjoy:

Dear Mike,

June 9, 1973 was a brilliant, beautiful day in New York, the place where so much of, well, us has happened. The massive crowds congregated early in the morning in anticipation of something many of them had never seen. History was at stake and everyone knew it. I was negative twelve years old.

On this day a horse named Secretariat ran the Belmont Stakes in two minutes and twenty-four seconds. The fastest mile and a half ever recorded to that point in time. A record that to this day hasn’t been broken.

I found this video on YouTube the other day. It’s more than a decade old and the grainy footage next to our modern HD televisions make it look much older than that. It’s a portion of a documentary produced about Secretariat from that day in Elmont, New York.

The clips of Secretariat running are magnificent, yes, but I’m struck mostly by the peripherals of the video, the people telling stories. Without sports writers sporting events like this would be little more than gambling sideshows. But because of these fabulous purveyors of information tales like this one are re-told in reverential tones for decades.

Fast forward that video to 8:30 and listen to the story about Jack Nicklaus. Listen to how he wept as Secretariat thundered down the back stretch, hooves circling immortality. This is why we watch sports. This is why the greatest golfer who ever lived broke down and cried in his living room while watching a half-ton four-legged mammal run a race on dirt. This is why journalists exist, to tell us stories and to connect the dots.

Here’s the thing about sports: we watch them because we fall in love with teams or because we know the participants or maybe because we have nothing better to do on a given day. But mostly we watch sports to experience moments that take us somewhere we’ve never been. Lezak’s last 50M, Donovan’s one-touch goal in South Africa, Ian Johnson in Glendale, Secretariat in ’73.

We want to feel something when we watch.

Because we are human though, and have this insatiable desire for more of what we consume, we don’t stop at just feeling. We want to re-live the moment. We fill our DVRs to the brim, we listen to interviews with our heroes, and we depend on journalists to interpret what we just saw. We depend on them to tell us if what we just experienced was as unadulterated and beautiful as we thought it was when we first consumed it.

I am not a great writer. I do it because I’m better at it than I am anything else in life. I do it because words move people and words help people understand what they just saw and felt. I do it because I’m in love with telling stories.

I do it so I can look back at the best class that never was.
So I can objectively give my thoughts on what OSU is doing right and what OSU is doing wrong.
So I can unashamedly do copious amounts of statistical research.
So I can break down the United States Open.
So I can empty my mind after 36-10 Bowl routs.
So I can talk to Zac Robinson about the ESPYs and Augusta and the Lions QB situation.
So I can see what the future looks like.

I write for all of these reasons and sometimes I simply write for the thrill of stringing a dozen or so words together in a type of harmonious union that resonates with my readers, even affects them.

So if I am hired to run the Oklahoma State football beat for the Oklahoman I will continue to dig into stories and refine my humor and objectively entertain the way fans should be entertained by writing. I will have an edge and because of that I will make mistakes, but I will also empty my mind of all its ideas and all its words every single day to create the highest quality content I possibly can for my readers.

It’s what they deserve.

– Kyle Porter

PS: If you’re interested in telling Mike Sherman why you think he should hire me as the new OSU beat writer, his email is [email protected] Or you can just leave a comment below supporting my application as I’m sure the good folks at the Oklahoman will be reading this at some point…

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