A Magazine by the Society of Professional Journalists

SDX Awards: Newspaper sports column writing, Mark Kiszla

By Quill

“Fearless” is one way to describe Mark Kiszla’s brand of column writing.

“While other sports columnists might be willing to sit on the couch and howl at the sports world, Kiszla hits the pavement looking for the stories that no one has told,” said Gregory L. Moore, editor of The Denver Post. “When the story of the day demands commentary, Kiszla is there, always with a clear opinion based on reporting and insight.”

Kiszla, a staff columnist for The Post, treats all topics as fair game for the sports pages.

In 2004, Kiszla attacks the sensitive rape allegations plaguing University of Colorado’s football program in “Charges leveled at CU show college sports’ priorities wrong.”

The Boulder district attorney alleged CU has used sex to entice prospective players.

Gov. Bill Owens demanded an investigation on behalf of the state, insisting, “Women are not recruiting tools.”

The Buffaloes, upset dirty laundry was aired so close to the date prospects sign formal commitments, shouted the misplaced outrage that this scandal could be a conspiracy to undermine CU’s football success.

Binge drinking and date rape are serious, nationwide problems on college campuses, and the Buffs are worried about losing recruits to poachers? There’s your proof the heft of big-money football warps priorities.

Kiszla continued to smear the priorities of the sports world in “Code lets NHL play violently,” which criticized the NHL’s tolerance of caveman-like behavior.

“His commentary is not always popular with those fans blinded by the colors of their teams, but he grasps the issues that must be discussed,” said Moore.

Applauding guts and glory, Kiszla covered the story of Jake Plummer in “Plummer has backers in his own revolution.” The Broncos quarterback was fined after defying NFL edict and wearing a decal on his helmet honoring the late NFL star Pat Tillman.

Plummer went out and beat Carolina 20-17, overcoming a costly interception to rally Denver with a fourth-quarter comeback.

It was the second-bravest thing Plummer did Sunday.

No. 1 was taking the hit of a hefty fine promised by the league if Plummer dared to honor Tillman, a former teammate who quit the NFL to become a soldier and died at age 27 during combat in Afghanistan this year.

“Mark Kiszla wreaks havoc with his readers’ emotions,” said the judges. “He writes with compassion, while at the same time he offers strong, valid arguments supported by facts. He takes on the establishment, toes the lines, then crosses it.”