Student blog tackles sports topics of the day

November 23, 2010

By Michael Payant

Michael Payant

Some people unwind at the end of the day by writing in a journal or diary. They might record what happened at school that day, their crush of the week or vacation plans for next month.

Michael Payant takes a different approach. He vents in an online sports blog, and discusses things like the National Football League pregame show on FOX, or the alarming post that proclaims “We are all Yankees.”

Payant, a junior at Liberty High School, created Sports Guy Shuffle, a site where he discusses issues facing the sports world today.

“I like to think I have a pretty well-rounded sports view,” he said, adding that he writes about “any topics I find kind of have a human interest piece, some deeper story that I think is significant or deserves recognition.

“Just (getting) my opinion out on random subjects in the sporting world.”

Payant’s mother, Susan Cohodes, said that her son “just decided that he has things to say, so he’s going to start blogging.”

“I enjoy writing and I enjoy sports, so it’s not a task I don’t look forward to,” said Payant, who is also on Liberty’s tennis team. “If I have some homework, I’ll sit down and work, then take an hour break and then get back to homework. It’s kind of a way to unwind.”

Serving as managing editor of Liberty’s campus newspaper the Patriot Press, Payant is getting a little experience in the world of journalism. His responsibilities include working on the school website and “trying to get as much experience working on the paper” as he can, he said.

“Rick Reilly is kind of my writing idol,” Payant said regarding the ESPN.com sports columnist who writes about sports and whatever else he wants after signing a five-year, $17 million contract in October 2007.

“I really like what he does and enjoy reading his articles,” Payant said. “I think they’re funny and thoughtful. I want to get my thoughts out there and if people like them that’s great, but I just want to write them down.”

Payant hopes to follow in his mother’s footsteps by studying journalism at Northwestern University in Chicago. He’s also looking at the University of California schools “because of the nice weather.”

“Strong schools with big-time sports and journalism programs are my focus at this point,” he said.

Due to the uncertain future of the journalism industry — after all, we can’t all be Rick Reilly — his parents have encouraged Payant to have a backup option.

“We’re hoping that he also maybe gets a degree in math,” his father Tom Payant said.

Fortunately, Payant excels in all his classes at school, according to his father, who notes that he “takes the toughest classes they offer” at Liberty.

“I sent the link to a number of my colleagues from undergrads who are working in the industry, and they thought it was good,” his mother said of her son’s blog. “A couple of them encouraged him to be a math major … but said if he wants to write there will be a place for him.”

Kevin Brown, sports editor at the Everett Herald, said he thinks the blog is a great outlet for a budding journalist to use.

“It does a couple things,” Brown said. “One, it gets you writing. He posts almost every day, which is important. Writing’s like running, if you’re doing it all the time, you’re going to get better. The other thing is he’s getting feedback. You learn what you’re doing right and wrong.”

Cohodes agreed, noting her son’s ambition to go out and actually do something rather than just talk about it.

“I’m excited that he’s doing something that he loves, and I’m impressed that he took the initiative,” she said. “Lots of people talk. He actually just sat down and did it.”

“I’m really having fun writing it,” Payant said, “and it’s something I want to do. I encourage people to read my opinions and see what (they) think.”

David Krueger is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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