Thursday, December 29, 2011

What a Mouthful!

I'm on record as saying that the site is a nice addition to the squash world's relatively paltry offerings for news. I make it a point to visit "the Report" after first checking out SquashSite. I definitely recommend lovers of squash bookmark both sites....

The Report does, however, have its quirks. The daily news is posted in the morning, so anything newsworthy that happens during the day will not appear until the next morning. So when Willstrop won the Punj Lloyd PSA Masters tournament, and thereby ascended to #1 player in the world rankings, there was nothing on the Report's site until the next day. But okay, fair enough, I'm sure the folks putting the Report out have other things to do during the day, and aren't sitting around a desk waiting for squash news to come drifting in. 

Another quirky thing about the site is the writing of Rob Dinerman. I've never met the man, but having read his articles over the years you can draw a few firm conclusions: he is a hardball fanatic, is not a fan of US Squash (probably because of its embrace of softball), and is not a fan of the common period.

He writes enthusiastic reviews of professional doubles tournaments, in particular those played under the ISDA banner. He also recently picked what he considered the most important squash performances of 2011 in an article he wrote for his site, and of the 8 players highlighted, 5 were squash hardballers -- a disproportionate number, surely. But again, to each his own. If the Report wants to be mainly a venue for original articles about squash doubles, that's fine, although certainly limiting.

But of enduring interest is what appears to be Mr. Dinerman's antipathy towards the period -- a/k/a the full stop. He doesn't seem to like them, sometimes going to seemingly extreme lengths to avoid their use. Here is a wonderful example, from his recent article about the ISDA tour:

When Manek Mathur and Yvain Badan posted sequential victories over first Damien Mudge and Ben Gould (rupturing their 46-0 skein) and then Matt Jenson and Clive Leach, the top two ranked teams on the ISDA tour, in the final two rounds of the Briggs Cup, the last and most lucrative pro hardball doubles tournament in calendar 2011, they completely upended the prevailing status quo, generated the most noteworthy accomplishment in the nearly nine years since Leach and Blair Horler dethroned reigning champs Mudge and Gary Waite in the final of the April 2003 Kellner Cup (on a daring Horler reverse-corner at 14-13 in the fifth), became the first team in the 12-year history of the ISDA to win a tournament in which they faced match-point-against in the third game of their semi and culminated a meteoric ascent from having to hack their way through the qualifying rounds as recently as this past January to winning an event of this magnitude less than a year later.
When I first read this paragraph I searched desperately for a period, but only at the very end of the paragraph, spent and exhausted, did I find one.

It's clearly Dinerman's writing style, which he has honed over many years. I am a writer and an editor, and frankly I wouldn't write that paragraph that way, but clearly Mr. Dinerman is just exercising his own artistic license, and I'm all for artistry. 

I was curious, though. There are ways of judging the difficulty in a written sample, and it has become something of a science. I am occasionally called on to write at a 6th grade level, for example, because I need to convey in layman's terms rather complicated things about medicine that need explaining, but big words cannot be used. Well, there is a site for figuring out grade-level reading abilities. WordsCount analyzes text through various means and can estimate the level of education one must have in order to understand it. So by copying the above sentence-paragraph into the readability calculator, I was able to get an approximation of the grade level one would need to understand the text. 

The Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level was 65. 

Not 6th grade, but 65th grade. What the hell is that, anyway?

1 comment:

  1. I received a nice email from Rob Dinerman after this was posted. He's not at all apologetic about his writing style, which is fine; as I pointed out in the blog, that is his artistic prerogative. There is a reason he writes these longer sentences, and the truth is it has become almost his 'brand' -- you can spot a Dinerman report without reading the author's name. When you think about it, that's a hard thing to accomplish....

    I do want to make one correction. In my original blog it implied that there was a lot more hardball coverage than softball. That's not true; most of the daily reports they put up are all about softball. Dinerman himself may write quite a bit about hardball topics, but the site as a whole is not weighted disproportionally to hardball.


Sorry, but due to increasing spam, I've added the Word Verification step. My policy on comments is anything goes, as long as it is about squash and as long as it isn't unnecessarily nasty....