This item initially appeared in the Best of Post Sports newsletter, which you can subscribe to here.
The end of the calendar is a common time to take stock of the previous 12 months: successes, failures, moments memorable for their grandeur, humor or absurdity. For me, it’s often a startling reminder of how time passes in ways that somehow seem both fast and slow.
Wait, the Olympics were THIS year?
Russia hosted the World Cup final five months ago?
The Larry Nassar sentencing was in JANUARY?
In looking back over the past year of work at Post Sports, we asked some reporters and columnists to choose their favorite stories. “Favorite” doesn’t necessarily mean “most important” nor does it even mean “best.” Pieces resonate with different people for different reasons.
The work I enjoy doing the most is journalism that holds those in authority accountable for their actions, and the work I enjoy reading the most has a capacity for joy that is, if not unique to sportswriting, seemingly found most often there. You'll find both among the stories gathered here.
Below, we’ve shared the writers' choices of their own favorite efforts (in alphabetical order by last name, lest anyone perceive a bias for our Clarkes over our Svrlugas). We also asked them to identify their favorite works authored by colleagues; those choices will appear later.
As for my favorite? Like any proud parent, I can never choose among my children, but let's just say it's included here.
Kent Babb, reporter
My own favorite story was on Tina Ball. That’s really because, six months later, I’ve forgotten how difficult and ridiculous it was to put it together. I mean, the least unusual thing about it was that I interviewed a woman who cannot express herself verbally. Because I went to Lithuania and spent three nights in a rural spa where you’re only supposed to walk around in robes and slippers. (I skirted that rule. I’m a professional, dammit, and I think robes are weird.) The whole experience was challenging and crazy — what is real in LaVar Ball’s universe, and what is The Matrix? — but ultimately rewarding, because in my career I have never examined a yin-and-yang story like that of LaVar and his wife, who has been rendered silent by a stroke. That, and even all these months later, I still get compliments on the creativity of certain phrases — “one who’s all voice with questionable substance, the other who’s all substance with no voice,” for example — many of which were actually written by the lovely and talented editor Matt Rennie. (Read the story here.)
Jerry Brewer, columnist
My favorite story of the year was chronicling Maryland Baltimore County’s historic upset of Virginia. It was the first time in the men’s NCAA basketball tournament that a No. 16 seed had defeated a No. 1 seed, and I felt lucky to witness the random glory and agony of it all. You couldn’t mess up a story like that, and I kept it simple and just painted the picture of an emotional night. (Read the story here.)
Liz Clarke, reporter
Whether working on a game account, feature story or investigation, reporters must take great care with facts and fairness. This first-person piece spilled entirely from the heart upon my return to Wimbledon after a four-year absence and, I hope, speaks to a broader point about not taking life’s small moments for granted. (Read the story here.)
Chuck Culpepper, reporter
Not only did this day at the PyeongChang Olympics verify so much of what I value in sports, but the response proved the most voluminous of any story I have done here, reassuring me the world might just teem with people who appreciate sportsmanship and the stupendous effort it can take even to finish last. (Read the story here.)
Will Hobson, reporter
This was truly one of the most remarkable, outrage-inducing, depressing, but also, in a way, stirring news events I have ever covered. Before the sentencing hearing, something in the neighborhood of 80 to 100 girls, women and parents were expected to speak. But as the televised scenes of these victims confronting Nassar, and him cowering, attracted national attention, dozens more victims — including several Olympians — gained the courage to make the trek to Michigan and confront Nassar as well. Their voices, collectively, ignited national outrage over the case, prompting legal and civil fallout at Michigan State, USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic Committee that is far from over. (Read the story here.)
Sally Jenkins, columnist
My own work? I suppose I liked the piece I did about LeBron James and Laura Ingraham telling him to shut up and dribble, because it seemed like such a predictable topic, but I think I made pretty good contact. (Read the story here.)
Adam Kilgore, reporter
The Olympics, as an event to cover, grind you into powder. The Olympics, as an enterprise, are corrupt and exploitative to the border of irredeemability. But sometimes, somehow, they’re magic. This was the night that stuck with me from South Korea. (Read the story here.)
Rick Maese, reporter
This story was the culmination of six weeks of reporting, cold calls and door-knocking, all aimed at trying to get inside the high-profile but tight-lipped investigation into the culture of the Maryland football program. The end result was a deeply reported, balanced piece that not only foreshadowed the investigative report that was finalized nearly three weeks later, but highlighted the inherent struggles found within many big-time college football programs, revealing the thin line between motivation and abuse. (Read the story here.)
Dave Sheinin, reporter
I’d been sitting on this idea for more than a decade, and to finally pull it off, and bring a small measure of fame to a guy who had his one shot at glory ruined by Mother Nature, was an everlasting privilege. (Read the story here.)
Barry Svrluga, columnist
During the Eastern Conference finals, Capitals beat writer Isabelle Khurshudyan and I were assigned a story on the entirety of the season — the high of winning the Stanley Cup, of course, but also, as the GM said, “points in the season where the whole thing could have crashed.” Reporting and writing the story was a blast because we were able to get different guys to open up in different ways, and we ended up with a pretty complete picture — the good, the bad — of what went into the run. (Read the story here.)