Sports Coverage gets access to Michigan State athletics

On both Aug. 1 and 2, students in Jeff Nardone’s Sports Coverage class had the oppurtunity to explore Michigan State’s (MSU) athletic programs and interview MSU basketball players, MSU basketball assistant coaches and the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) Executive Director Jack Roberts and find their own story topic.

The class toured the Breslin Center, Munn Ice Arena and Spartan Stadium, Nardone said. At the Breslin Center, the class was able to step into the locker room. Nardone said the locker room tour was new for him.

Off the court: MSU basketball players Klarissa Bell and Russell Byrd answer questions posed by the Sports Coverage class on Tuesday. photo by Samantha VanHoef

“I’ve been doing this for 2o years and I see something new every year,” Nardone said.

The class was able to see the the facilities for the football team along with the athlete’s academic help center, Nardone said.

Russell Byrd, Michigan State Spartans redshirt freshman shooting guard,¬†and women’s sophomore guard Klarissa Bell attended a press conference on Aug. 2 where students asked a variety of questions ranging from the structure of Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) basketball to the hazing of freshman on the basketball teams and from the recruiting process to the issue of whether college athletes should be paid. Students interviewed assistant coaches Dane Fife and Dwayne Stevens earlier in the day, Nardone said.

Byrd was a highly recruited player coming out of Indiana, according to ESPN. He was one of the top-100 recruits in the nation. While playing in AAU, Byrd could play up to 85 games in a year.

Stories about AAU, or any other topic, can be so diverse, Nardone said. The fact that it is a necessary evil can be one route a writer can take. A head coach hates it, but needs it to recruit competitively.

“I don’t want to tell (my students) which story to write,” said Nardone.

This is part of the challenge for the students, Nardone said. They have to find their own story through all of the information and interviews they have been given.

Despite that approach, many students, even with all of the freedom and possibilities of a story topic, are still leaning toward writing a story to do with AAU, Nardone said. This is because there are so many angles to the story and it can be covered uniquely.

Sports Coverage instructor Jeff Nardone watches his students interview Michigan State athletes on Aug. 2. Nardone said his students also got to visit some athletics facilities that even he hadn't toured over the 20 years he's taught here. By Samantha VanHoef / Upstart Staff

“My story is a feature concerning AAU baskeball. I’ve gotten great quotes from Jack Roberts and members of the MSU Basketball coaching and administrative staff,” Patrick Hall said, a student in the Sports Coverage class.

Hall said that in the past two days he has learned to ask the hard questions right away to get good quotes. He learned from Nardone that every little tidbit can change a story, the smallest bit of information can change a reader’s perspective.

“When I get back to my staff I will be able to write more interesting stories,” said Hall. “I will be able to put a little bit more fun into more sports coverage.”

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