Sports Journalism Includes Telling the Stories No One Wants to Tell

Famed sports reporter and commentator Kevin Scarbinsky wrote his last column for AL.com earlier this year, but on Aug. 9 he told a joint meeting of Alabama Media Professionals and Homewood Rotary Club he believes in journalism more than ever. “Real journalism is telling the stories no one wants to tell – that have to be told,” Scarbinsky said at AMP’s monthly meeting at Homewood Public Library.

Numerous sports-related scandals fall into this category, as does the story behind the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s football, bowling, and rifle teams being shut down in late 2014, he continued. The latter was important to tell because of the disconnect between the truth and the official line about how and when the decision was made, Scarbinsky said. Since the programs were reinstated – due largely to public outcry – UAB’s enrollment and economic development in Birmingham have gone up, he said.

Scarbinsky transitioned to vice president of marketing for
Bruno Event Team, a sports marketing and event-management group, earlier this year. He said he needed a new challenge after spending decades reporting on the sports world for The Birmingham News and AL.com. He covered the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, 16 NCAA Final Four basketball championships, countless national football championships, golf tournaments including the 1997 Masters Tournament, which was Tiger Woods’ first major championship win, and more.

Scarbinsky said news outlets have changed drastically during his career, noting Birmingham and most major cities had not one, but two daily newspapers not so long ago. However, good reporting remains the same. The person who broke one of the biggest current sports stories, for instance, did it through reporting on his Facebook page, after ESPN laid him off, Scarbinsky said. “The size of the news outlet doesn’t determine the quality of the work,” he said of today’s media landscape.

To read more of what Scarbinsky recounted about his sports-writing career, including stories of his interactions with various coaches and insight into which teams he rooted for,
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