‘Beyond the Box Score’ lecture to address storytelling in sports

In the last few years, sports journalism has increasingly become a venue for long-form storytelling and investigative journalism. In-depth sports narratives have evolved from their roots in magazines like Sports Illustrated to take on new forms in books, television and online, giving rise to shows like ESPN’s “E:60” and “30 for 30” documentary series, and any number of websites and blogs dedicated to exploring all sides of a story without the constraint of column inches.

Sports Illustrated’s George Dohrmann, ESPN columnist and CNN contributor LZ Granderson, columnist Melissa Isaacson and ESPN reporter Jeremy Schaap will discuss the evolution of storytelling in the realm of sports in a panel discussion moderated by author Jonathan Eig.

“Beyond the Box Score: Storytelling in Sports,” will be held at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 7, in the McCormick Tribune Center Forum (1870 Campus Drive) on Northwestern University’s Evanston campus. The event, co-sponsored with the Northwestern University Department of Athletics and Recreation, is free and open to the public. The panel discussion will also be streamed live on the Medill website and the Athletics Department website. The discussion can also be followed on Twitter using the hashtag #MedillSports.

This is the third “Beyond the Box Score” lecture at Medill, and second co-sponsored with Athletics. In 2011, five generations of Medill alumni discussed “Race in Sports and Sports Journalism.” Last year, Northwestern University football coach Pat Fitzgerald and ESPN reporter Rachel Nichols joined Sports Illustrated’s Stewart Mandel and Pete Thamel (then with the New York Times) to talk about “Covering College Sports in 2012 and Beyond.”

About the panelists:

George Dohrmann received the Pulitzer Prize for Beat Reporting in 2000 while working at the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press for a series of stories that uncovered academic fraud within the University of Minnesota men’s basketball program. He is the most recent sportswriter to earn a Pulitzer. He also is the author of “Play Their Hearts Out: A Coach, His Star Recruit, and the Youth Basketball Machine,” a book that, based on eight years of research and unconstrained access, uncovers the tough truths hiding behind the romanticized hoop dreams of America’s basketball prodigies and their families.

Soon after receiving the Pulitzer award, Dohrmann joined Sports Illustrated, where he currently is a senior writer. His primary beat is investigative projects, but he also reports on college basketball, college football and soccer. In May 2011, he wrote a special report for SI that exposed an eight-year pattern of violations under Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel that is credited for leading to the coach’s resignation. Dohrmann says his most memorable story while reporting at SI was covering the Michael Vick dogfighting case in 2007. 

LZ Granderson is a senior writer and columnist for ESPN The Magazine and He also contributes to ESPN’s “SportsCenter,” “Outside the Lines” and “First Take” television shows. In addition to his work for ESPN, Granderson writes a weekly column for, appears weekly on CNN Newsroom, has a CNN video blog and podcast and is a frequent guest on a number of CNN shows.

Granderson’s writing often focuses on social issues, and when it comes to his ESPN work, how those issues relate to sports and sports figures. He was named the 2012 Journalist of the Year by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. In 2009 he received the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation award for online journalism, an award he was nominated for again in 2010 and 2011.

Melissa Isaacson
 is a columnist for after spending 19 years as a reporter and columnist at the Chicago Tribune. During her time at the Tribune, she was the principal beat writer for the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls during their championship years of the early 1990s and later the Chicago Bears for seven seasons. She was also part of the paper’s coverage of the World Series-winning White Sox in 2005, as well as the Cubs’ playoffs in 2003, 2007 and 2008.

Isaacson, who is an adjunct lecturer at Medill, has covered virtually every major sporting event, including the Summer and Winter Olympics, more than a dozen Super Bowls, the Final Four, college bowl games, Wimbledon and U.S. Open tennis and the British Open. She is also the author of “Sweet Lou - Lou Piniella: A Life in Baseball,” and “Transition Game: An Inside Look at Life With the Chicago Bulls.”

Jeremy Schaap is a six-time national Sports Emmy Award winner who has reported at ESPN since 1996. He is a correspondent for “E:60,” the host of ESPN Radio’s "The Sporting Life" and a frequent contributor to “SportsCenter,” “Outside the Lines,” “NFL Countdown” and “College Gameday.” He is also a commentator for and the substitute host for “The Sports Reporters.” Schaap is also the author of “Cinderella Man,” a New York Times bestseller, and “Triumph: The Untold Story of Jesse Owens and Hitler’s Olympics.”

Schaap’s best-known stories at ESPN include a Bobby Fischer profile that earned him the national Sports Emmy Award for writing, an award named for his father Dick Schaap, as well as an investigation that took him to Serbia in search of a basketball player accused of brutal assault. He also conducted the first interview with Bobby Knight after he was fired by Indiana University in 2000, an interview that the New York Post’s Phil Mushnick called, “A slam dunk … one that should be stored in the annals of sports broadcast journalism.”

Moderator Jonathan Eig (BSJ86) is the New York Times bestselling author of “Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinson’s First Season,” and “Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig.” He is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of ChicagoSide, an online sports magazine that was founded last year. ChicagoSide supplies content to media outlets like TimeOut Chicago, the Chicago Sun-Times, Crain’s Chicago Business and The Wall Street Journal. Eig’s work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Esquire, and he has also been a guest on NBC’s “Today Show,” NPR and “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.”

For more information on this lecture, call (847) 467-4130, email, or visit