Dunne Revels In Realism
What I’ve learned: perspective changes everything.
The feature story embodies the idea that a shift in perspective bears more fruitful, news-worthy content than otherwise reporting on known information and, in a word, “beating a dead horse.”
This may be obvious, but to one unfamiliar with the sports world, the paradigm shift between the games on the field and the down-to-earth problems that inhibit the athletes behind the plays changes everything.
It’s the question that needs answering: why cover sports?
Well, human beings are fascinating. They’re fluid, and don’t adhere to any specific narrative. They’re abnormal, weird, rather gross — but insightful, genuine, and free. This seems to be what Tyler Dunne perpetuates: the objective fact of a particular game, or play — interspersed with the flawed lives of the every-day superheroes we watch on television.
For instance: Aaron Rogers. A man that acts as others expects him to be: extraordinary. Those paint his canvas with perfection. His complexities are daunting to some; breed confidence all at once to others. Yet therein lies the misfortune.
One man can’t bear the weight of the world on his shoulders, get on the field, make excellent plays, and pretend to be okay. Such expectations aren’t meant to enhance play, but destroy performance. Marcell Dareus is the same way.
In the words of Dunne: “Once you peel back this outer layer of joy, there’s this chilling truth: Everybody close to Dareus dies. His father, his grandmother, his grandfather, his mother, his mentor, his brother, close friends. All gone. You’re damn right he’s dejected, depressed.
“Every day. Still to this day. Still to this day. Every day.”
From what depths of psychological entanglement could a man, who has witnessed tragedy on all fronts, muster up the courage to keep going? Tyler Dunne answers: through life’s losses can one breed hope for the future.
Dunne is a particular favorite of mine, as his pieces (an attitude I’ve shared with previous responses) refuses to adhere to the norms of a traditional “sports” piece, as in, stories that entail heavy sports-esque dialogue and concepts. With the strongest focus on Dunne’s part being less on the game and more on the person holding and throwing the ball.
Dunne betrays a solid emphasis on the human condition — allowing anyone without distinct knowledge of football, or basketball, or anything of the sort — a glimpse at the machinations of its athletes. Dunne breaks the definitive standard that every athlete adorns in some fashion, and yet uses the remains to conjure brilliance through his gentle prose and immersive diction.
It’s the perspective shift.
“Perhaps Rodgers is flawlessly compartmentalizing whatever drama stirs out of the public eye, and the fact he’s been so pedestrian is strictly football-related. Perhaps he makes amends with his family down the road, too. The relationship remains salvageable. This source expects the gravity of missed weddings, holidays, funerals and anniversaries to “hit Aaron hard at one point.”
And such sentiments pervade his pieces like clockwork. You have a character, you expose their problems to the universe, yet you weave their faults with their successes to create, in an ironic sense, the perfect person — a specimen worth reporting. A story worth telling.