State of the Art: The man behind the pen

Postat: 12 juli, 2017 av Magnus i Okategoriserade
This week I had the opportunity to an exclusive interview with Art Staple, NY Islanders beat writer at Newsday, and I asked him a little bit about himself, his work and about the Islanders. Staple is now entering his 7th season covering the Islanders, but they haven’t always been the number one New York hockey team for Art.

 

Tell me a little bit about yourself as a kid. Where did you grow up? How and when did you get interested in sports?

I grew up in New York City, about 10 blocks from Madison Square Garden. In the 1970s and 1980s New York wasn’t quite the same place for kids it is now, so we didn’t have a lot of outdoor time – my older brother became interested in hockey after we would play in roller skates near my grandmother’s building and he played ice hockey for a bit, but mostly he wanted to go to Rangers games and I tagged along.

Do you have any special memories from your childhood regarding the rivalry between the Rangers and the Islanders?

I knew about the rivalry from the time I started watching. One of my first Rangers-Islanders memories was staying up late to watch Game 5 of the 1984 first round, when Don Maloney batted in the tying goal with a high stick and Ken Morrow won it for the Isles in OT to send them on to try for the 5th Cup. I was a Ranger fan then for sure so it was a lot of frustration at not being able to knock off the champs.

Did you practice any sports yourself as a kid?

I played baseball growing up and into high school, but I wasn’t much of a skater so hockey was out.

You went to Boston University 1989-93 to study journalism. How was BU?

BU was fun. My brother was a senior when I started as a freshman so I already knew a bit about the school; another friend of ours from home, Sean Grande, was there as well and he’s now the radio announcer for the Boston Celtics, so I connected with the BU radio station through him. We did some hockey games together, but I was not an avid follower of the hockey program.

Do you have any special memories or anecdotes from your time in school you’d like to share?

When I was a senior in high school I started an internship with the legendary Stan Fischler. He ran a huge operation out of his uptown New York apartment and I was in heaven – I got to help research and write chapters of his books, I was his Rangers correspondent my senior year of high school so I would attend most of the home games and collect interviews for him and when I got to Boston I went to Bruins games as well. It really helped me understand the way reporters do the job, something you don’t always get in school.

I also worked at the Boston Herald in college, taking high school scores over the phone. My first paying gig! I preferred the spending money and mingling with the professional writers to the college paper.

I got a chance to work with the tv broadcast crews on Bruins playoff games during my time up there thanks to Stan, so that was a chance to sit next to some of the greats like Mike Emrick, Bob Cole and Dick Irvin and pass statistics and other info along. My first night on the job in the 1990 playoffs I had to walk down to the old Boston Garden “basket” – the row of broadcast seats at the bottom of the upper deck, a steep walk down, and then to climb over a railing.

I tried to do it as carefully as I could but when I swung my leg over to step down, Mike Emrick was just standing up to introduce himself to me. I kicked him so hard I thought I broke his arm. So there I am, an 18-year-old aspiring sports journalist, on the verge of tears because the best broadcaster in the world is doubled over in pain half an hour before the game was to start.

Luckily he was fine, but I’ll never forget it. He may not either.

Fantastic story! After that, what did you do right after graduation?

I graduated from BU in 1993, worked at the New York Daily News for a year as an intern and then bounced around the New York area for a bit before I landed at Newsday full time in 1997.

What was your first job assignments at the paper?

I started covering high school and college sports, which was great fun – I had a lot of experience covering the pros before that, but local sports, even in New York, connect you to people in a way the pros do not. Parents and coaches and kids are so excited for the coverage that you get a real sense of appreciation and it makes you learn to take great care in putting a story together and wanting it to be perfect, since you may not write about that young person again.

I moved from there to covering the Rangers for three seasons, from 2001-2004. Those were the end of the lean years for that team, but in the pre-Twitter era, it was harder to get too involved in the rivalry. I do recall the Chicken Dance game at the Coliseum, of course, and covering some real characters with those Rangers teams, but every season ended with me switching over to do Islanders playoffs, including the insane Leafs series in 2002. I was in the Toronto room for that one and that was madness – they all had the flu at one point during the series and I caught it just before flying up for Game 7. Not the most fun way to cover such a big game!

When and why did you start to cover the Isles?

I moved over to covering the Giants (football) after the 2004-05 lockout, then covered a bit of everything from 2008-2011 until my good friend Katie Strang left the paper and I was assigned to the Islanders. This will be my seventh season coming up.

How does a usual home game day in Art Staple’s life look like?

Game days have become a bit different now with the team having morning skates on Long Island and games in Brooklyn. I’ll usually drive down to the practice facility for their 10:30 AM skate – that means I leave my house around 9 or so – catch up with a few players, listen to the coach, then I’ll head out to Brooklyn to beat the traffic.

I tend to get to Brooklyn around noon or 1 pm, park my car and then I’ll either settle into the empty building to do some work or meet up with friends for lunch. This job has a lot of ebbs and flows – bursts of work followed by hours of nothing. Netflix is my friend many days!

Other media folks tend to filter in around 5, so I’ll chat with them, perhaps listen to the visiting coach speak and then watch warmups and get busier on Twitter with the night’s lineup. During the game I’m tweeting quite a bit – it actually helps with my notes after the game to remember the big moments – and by the end of the first period I’ll have my notebook filed to the office so they can edit it and post it.

The minute the game ends I file a short (4 or 5 paragraph) summary of the game to be quickly posted on the web, then I usually have until 10:20 or so to file my full story. If the game ends at 9:45 or so, that doesn’t leave much time, but the postgame interviews go quickly and I’ve learned to write fast.

So I’m done and packed up by, say, 10:45 or 11, off to my car for the hour drive home. A long day, but it has its own rhythm that I’ve gotten used to.

Wow, really long days! I think a lot of people like to know how the team informs you, especially about trades and other major events and news. It feels like you often breaks big news about the team.

I don’t want to reveal too much, but their media relations staff is fantastic and we do our best to get along despite sometimes being at odds with information I want and information they want to release. Being around the team as the sole traveling beat writer can be good as far as developing relationships with people in the organization, but it can also be a bit much for everyone to see the same face every day and there are disputes.

Basically, my goal is to report the news as fast and clearly as I can. Sometimes the Islanders help with that, sometimes they don’t and that’s the way it works. You can’t rely on one source of information, so I try to talk to as many people in the hockey world as I can.

What approach do the Islanders have towards advanced stats? Do they co-operate with any analytic-firms?

I think they’re like a lot of NHL teams who have internal analytics that they use rather than the things that are available to the rest of us online. They do have a Russian company that provides player tracking technology and also use some other internal stats.

What is your own opinion about advanced stats?

I think they’re great. Anything to provide a deeper insight into the game or why teams do what they do. It can be frustrating when some stats writers trade in absolutes, just as it is when legacy media reporters do the same. We’re all outsiders trying to glean information from the people in the game and it does none of us any good to dismiss people we write about as dumb or ignorant. We’re the conduit to the fans – some of them love advanced stats, some love narratives, some love opinion. Better to provide the information and keep the “player x sucks” viewpoint out of it.

What is your honest opinion about the arena situation? What is realistic to believe will happen?

I’ve felt from the time the new owners took over that Belmont Park made the most sense as a site for a new arena, so I’ll stick with that. Logic doesn’t always enter the equation, however, and given all the stops and starts (mostly stops) of the last 20 years, who can honestly say they know for sure where the team will play? They’re in Barclays for now and, it seems, for a few years at least. The Coliseum seems unworkable and they’re not moving away from the area. So we’ll see how it continues to progress.

Is the Islanders organization aware of us supporters from across the Atlantic Ocean? Have they noticed our strong commitment and our annual gatherings more than in a few retweets?

I believe they are. The team’s social media coordinator keeps up with the fans quite well and your group in particular is very visible online… Anything that requires coordination between the marketing/digital side, which is run by Barclays, and the team side can be little dicey, given the not-so-great relationship between the two entities. But they know you’re out there! It would great if the league started the European games back up again and included the Islanders. I bet they would understand how passionate you all are.

How about your personal life today. What do you do in your spare time? Is there any time for hobbies?

With two kids at home and not so much time around them during the season, I try to do as little as possible during the offseason and on my days off to be available to the family. My son is 12 and plays baseball and basketball, so I get to as many of his games as I can. For myself, I try to read non-sports books and I play terrible golf when I get the chance.

About your future. Where do you see yourself in let’s say 10 years? Any thoughts of a TV-career perhaps or are you Newsday bound for life?

That is a difficult question! It’s no secret that my industry has seen better days, so I honestly don’t think about switching gears much these days. I love my job, I’ve loved it for a long time despite all the complaining I do, and with every round of layoffs elsewhere I appreciate it more and more. TV is fun to do but I doubt I’m cut out for it full time.

I’ve always dreamed of writing a tv series or a screenplay, so perhaps I will finally get my act together and work on it during the long road trips this season!

Finally I have to ask you about your trip to Stockholm the other year. How did you experience the trip?

It was amazing, simply amazing. My wife and I try to travel out of the States every year and Sweden was high on our list for a long time. To be able to take my son along and have my wife’s parents as well was a real treat. We only stayed a few days and only in the city, so we all say how much we want to go back and explore more.

One of our favorite afternoons was a journey to a restaurant called ”Meatballs For The People”, a place we looked up online and decided to take everyone to. The food was fantastic and my wife desperately wants a sweatshirt that they sell, but they don’t send them overseas! She follows their Instagram account and we both think about the time we can go back and spend a longer stretch in your country.

Arthur Staple

FIVE QUICK ONES

  • Football or Baseball? – Football, definitely. I played baseball, but football is more fun to Watch.
  • Brooklyn or Manhattan? – Manhattan! Born and raised, I can’t turn against them!
  • Blue or Orange? – Blue.
  • Beer or Wine? – Wine.
  • Trade Deadline or Free Agent Frenzy? – I prefer the trade deadline because it comes and goes quickly, usually when I’m on the road. Free agency keeps me tied to my couch for too long.
Annonser

Kommentera

Fyll i dina uppgifter nedan eller klicka på en ikon för att logga in:

WordPress.com Logo

Du kommenterar med ditt WordPress.com-konto. Logga ut / Ändra )

Twitter-bild

Du kommenterar med ditt Twitter-konto. Logga ut / Ändra )

Facebook-foto

Du kommenterar med ditt Facebook-konto. Logga ut / Ändra )

Google+ photo

Du kommenterar med ditt Google+-konto. Logga ut / Ändra )

Ansluter till %s