The Saunders provide interesting season kickoff to Fireside Chat

By Ed Otte
The father-son team of Dusty and Patrick Saunders emphasized the need for excellence in

Patrick and Dusty Saunders at SPJ Colorado Pro's first Fireside Chat.
Patrick and Dusty Saunders at SPJ Colorado Pro’s first Fireside Chat.

sports coverage at a Fireside Chat on Oct. 3 at the Denver Press Club.

“There is a lot of mediocrity in sports broadcasting, you see it at the national level all the time, but I think Bob Costas and Al Michaels are examples of what you want to see and hear,” Dusty said at the Colorado Pro Chapter event. “They’re thoughtful and articulate. They don’t ramble on, stating the obvious with a bunch of cliches.”

Dusty covered the broadcasting beat as a critic and columnist for more than 40 years at the Rocky Mountain News. He currently writes a Monday TV/radio sports column for The Denver Post.

“Vin Scully is in that same class,” Patrick said. “Economical with words. Very good with words. He narrated a video (retirement) tribute to Todd Helton at Sunday’s game, the Rockies last game, at Dodger Stadium. It was great. I asked Todd afterward about the video and he was moved by it.”

Patrick joined The Post in 1998 as a Denver Broncos beat writer and now covers the Colorado Rockies.

When asked how he handles cliche comments by players and coaches, Patrick said, “At the beginning of the season, that’s what they’re going to say. If they’re saying the same things later in the season, I just don’t quote them in my stories. Readers don’t want to see that over and over.”

Both men advised college journalism students to focus on improving the quality of their work.

“Be a good writer, be a good reporter,” Dusty said. “Resist having your opinion in your stories. Good columnists were reporters before they began writing commentary. You have to be a good reporter to be a good columnist.”

Patrick was asked why he became a sportswriter. “Growing up, the first thing I did in the morning was read the sports pages,” he said. “I still do.”

Dusty said he contributed to the early interest in sports. “When Patrick and his brothers were little, we’d drive up to the highest point in Arvada, Hackberry Hill, and listen to the Cardinals games on KMOX on the car radio. Sports broadcasting has changed a lot since then.”

The father-son relationship was discussed in other aspects.

“When he writes something critical about (Rockies TV game commentator) George Frazier or (Denver Nuggets TV game commentator) Scott Hastings, they’ll ask me, ‘Why doesn’t your dad like me?'” Patrick said. “But being his son helped me gain access to some interviews early in my career.”

“I do cast a big shadow,” the 6-foot-3 father said.

“You said that?” Patrick said. “Well, he does have big shoes.”