Friday, July 9, 2010

Pitt in Ireland - Sports writing sample.

Panthers Invade the Emerald Isle

By Joshua M. Patton

The green shores of Ireland, now part-time home to Noted Yinzer Ambassador Dan Rooney, will welcome the University of Pittsburgh men’s basketball team for a whirlwind tour of games and goodwill that will take them to Cork, Dublin, and Belfast. Dan Rooney might be the only one anticipating the arrival of the Panthers with any significant excitement. Basketball is an emerging sport in Ireland with only a few nationally televised games per year. Still, Pitt will be taking on an international consortium of assess to kick on the court.

The nature and tenor of the visit is touted as an exercise in goodwill and international athletic brotherhood, which in part it is. However one only has to read between the lines when head coach Jamie Dixon says that “from a basketball perspective, this is an outstanding opportunity for our team to get an early start on the season.” The Panthers will maintain a normal practice schedule in-between games, sightseeing, and events. However, they will face four Irish teams and should win handily. There greatest challenge follows, the dreaded Melbourne Tigers, a professional Australian team that has won championships in their home country. The six-game tour is then closed out in Dublin as they face the English National Team, formidable I’m sure, but not as cohesive a unit as Dixon hopes his Panthers will be.

The good news is that even if the locals, the Brits, and the Tigers mop up the gym floor with the Panthers – perhaps too tired from sightseeing, normal practice, and “shagging,” to really put forth the effort – it is a great way to break up the monotony of a normal NCAA season. The Panthers are typically in and out of a town faster than a late-night visit to a reverend’s daughter, no matter what the outcome of the games, they will have an uplifting experience on the other end of the tour.

They will be visiting UPMC facilities in Ireland, to include the Children’s Hospital Dublin Branch. They will also be doing some work of worth with Peace Players International, an organization that tries to keep Protestant and Catholic children from attempting to kill each other and settle their squabbles through triple-doubles and athletic competition. And the Panthers need the fun, Utah is their first opponent and it is undoubtedly the toughest opening bout in the Big East. Erin Go Big or Go Bragh.

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