Stephen Brunt describes himself as a “rare bird” in the sports writing business. He’s never covered a baseball or hockey beat. He wrote a book about Bobby Orr without interviewing the Boston Bruins great. He went to university with dreams of becoming a trombonist. And even when the dreams of becoming a musician faded and he turned to writing, he wasn’t writing about sports.
“I’m an arts writer, who became a news writer by default, who became a sports writer for a lark really, and then became a columnist without having worked a beat in sports,” says Brunt. “At first I just wanted to try (sports writing) because it was fun. It seemed like a good writing gig.”
He worked as a sports columnist for the Globe and Mail for more than two decades. During that time, his features and columns were nominated for multiple National Newspaper Awards. Brunt’s best piece of reporting, he says, was a series about corruption in Ontario boxing that won him a Michener Award for public service journalism in 1988. He’s written seven books – most notably about Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Orr and Muhammed Ali – and is working on another two.
Brunt got his first taste of writing as an undergraduate at Western, where he wrote about jazz and pop music for the student newspaper and the London Free Press. After graduating from the master’s program in journalism in 1982, he started working as a summer intern with the Globe, but was laid off in the midst of a recession.
Brunt was rehired by the Globe in 1984 as a general assignment reporter. He established himself writing about various federal and provincial election campaigns, but became a sports feature writer because wanted a change of pace. When the sports columnist position opened up in 1989, he applied for and landed the job.
Brunt admits that his writing wasn’t very good during those first two years as a columnist. But in the long term, he says that his outsider status – as someone who hadn’t been a beat sports reporter – allowed his columns to flourish, especially at a time when sports writing was becoming less about game reporting and more about the economics, culture and politics of the world of sport.
Like many sports columnists that have left newspapers for cross-platform media, Brunt recently moved to full-time work at Rogers. He writes the back page column for Sportsnet magazine and co-hosts Prime Time Sports, a radio show syndicated across the country.
Regardless of what medium Brunt is working in, he says the goal remains the same: “The best sensation in my gig is when you... feel like you hit the bull’s eye. You’re clear, you have a take and it’s well thought-out and it’s original and it pushes buttons with people.”
Read the complete story: Faculty of Information and Media Studies Journalism Alumni Gallery of Distinction
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