The Best Writing You'll Read Today

As we mentioned awhile ago, Blazers reporter Matt Calkins pulled off quite a feat in the national 2011 writing contest sponsored by the Associated Press Sports Editors. Matt won three first-place honors in the 30,000-to-75,000 circulation category, taking the top prize in column writing, feature writing, and beat writing. Here are links to his winning contest entries:

COLUMN WRITING (entrants are asked to submit selection of five columns)

— A piece about the place of religion in sports, after the Auburn coach said “God was on our side” when the Tigers won the national title.

— A breakdown of the Rose Garden’s infamous “Free Throw Guy,” and how he may actually be causing opponents to be missing foul shots.

— A column on how Shaquille O’Neal impacted a local family in a way only he could.

— Matt’s night hopping local gay bars after Kobe Bryant dropped a homophobic slur on television.

— The incredible story of Jim Orr and the paramedics who fulfilled his final wishes.

FEATURE WRITING (single story)

A look at former champion wheelchair athlete Craig Blanchette and his 20-year battle with an addiction to porn.

BEAT WRITING (one feature, one news story, one game story, and two wild cards)

— A feature on point guard Patty Mills’ heartbreaking Aboriginal background.

— A profile on Blazers assistant coach Bill Bayno and his mental-health struggles.

— A feature on Blazers guard Wesley Matthews, which includes a conversation with his estranged father.

— Game coverage of Brandon Roy’s magical Game 4 against Dallas in the first round of the playoffs.

— A news story about he abrupt firing of general manager Rich Cho.

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