‘The Sports Page’ reveals past era

By Candy Rendon

Playwright and Baylor graduate Larry Herold will showcase his play, “The Sports Page,” at the Stage West Theatre in Fort Worth next week.

The play was the winner of the 2011 Pandora Productions New Play Festival award and the 2010 Texas Playwriting Competition and was a finalist for several other prominent playwriting awards.

Herold introduces the screenplay with a synopsis explaining the world that he brings to life in “The Sports Page.”

He writes, “Waxahachie, Texas. The NFL’s Dallas Cowboys are holding training camp. A young man arrives, yearning to join the pantheon of big-time sportswriters. But when he encounters a pair of crusty scribes, a glamorous female TV reporter, a wily P.R. man and a star player who refuses to speak to the press, his life takes an unexpected turn.”

Herold, who wrote the play, explained his passion for sports writing and writing the play.

“This story is so near and dear to sports fans,” Herold said. “People remember when journalists used to be the only ones telling the public what was going on with sports. That relationship between the public and the sports writers was very romantic, and this play shows that relation.”

“The Sports Page,” follows Scott Young, a 27 year old sports writer eager to get his career moving forward during the big 1960s shift from editorial sports journalism to television broadcasting. Young’s pursuits are further challenged by Jane Jordan, a young female reporter growing in popularity with television viewers.

From the skinny ties to the cigarette smoke, the play paints all the details of the transitional experience during the ’60s.

“People didn’t know that television was going to be this huge thing bringing them right to the game, but it was just getting started,” Herold said. “All kinds of things were picking up. Newspapers were losing a lot of their readers when television became the popular medium for sports coverage. Many writers had to adapt. And then the women wanted to get in on it.”

Jerry Russell is the founder of Stage West Theatre and explained the varying perspectives in the play.

“This is a fascinating story of sports history going through one of the biggest changes in media,” Russell said. “There is certainly a local hook present with the play, but what interests me the most is that national aspect.”

“Scott is young and ambitious. He shows up thinking he will be this great newspaperman. All of a sudden, television finds him. Does he consider making the switch?” Herold said.

“The Sports Page” deeply examines its characters’ faults and struggles to bring audience members a clear view towards the story, Herold said. When asked how he came to create the roles, Herold explained his recollection of different colleagues and co-workers he encountered over the years.

“Well, first you need to get your ideas from experiences throughout your life, and I happened to know a lot of writers over the years. Then, like other writing, you kind of grab your words from the air to piece together your story the way you want it. It’s a mixture of things, kind of like soup,” Herold said.

“What draws me most about the characters is that you have a couple of longtime, grizzled sports writers,” Russell said.

Herold recently finished the play’s video trailer, where he says he is taking advantage of television’s present role with the media. Herold posts several interviews on YouTube, looking into the history of sports journalism and “The Sports Page.”

In one of these interviews, Mark Oristano, a sports journalist who once covered the Dallas Cowboys, emphasized the play’s guided attention to historical detail.

“In Texas, football is certainly a huge part of our lives, but back then it was very rare to find games televised. Now every game is on.” Because of Herold’s play, viewers will see both the highs and lows of sports coverage today, Oristano explained.

Herold, who resides in Dallas, received his B.A. in journalism from Baylor and continued his story writing with an MFA in creative writing from Texas State University. He is cofounder of Times Square Playwrights in New York City and is a member of the Playwrights’ Center and the Dramatists Guild.

For more information, visit www.larryherold.com/thesportspage. Tickets are available through Stage West Theatre at boxoffice@stagewest.org. The play is showing 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays, 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays. The play will be running from Thursday until March 18.