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1 piece of creative nonfiction

by Colin Dabkowski

Colin Dabkowski was the arts critic at The Buffalo News from 2007 to 2018. He has also worked as an editor at McSweeney's, a freelance journalist in New Orleans, and a night stock clerk at Wegmans. He is currently studying to teach English at the secondary level.

What Happens in the Big Leagues


A story from fragments of sports articles published in The Buffalo News between June, 2018 and September, 2019.

Note: In the summer of 2018, my decade-long tenure as the arts critic and reporter at Buffalo’s struggling daily newspaper came to an end. It was a job so challenging, so gratifying, and so rewarding no reporter could have invented it for himself. It was therefore not to last.


And so that year, on a joyless afternoon, for joyless reasons, I was reassigned to a joyless job. In addition to working an unpredictable schedule of nights, weekends, and holidays, that job consisted largely of copy-editing sports.


I liked holidays. I liked weekends. I hated sports.


So I quit. Which was the intended effect.


But before I left, as a way to stay sane while cashing paychecks and completing my education degree, I kept a running file of context-free quotes from the sports stories I had edited. They were so saturated with homoeroticism, so undeniably sexual in their language of physical domination and submission, that they seemed worth preserving and sharing in some way.


This turned into a yearlong series of tweets called SPORTS QUOTES OUT OF CONTEXT. This project allowed me to funnel my frustration with my editors, and my juvenile tendencies, into strange dispatches that made people laugh—even if that laughter threw the disappointment of my situation into starker relief.


What follows is a compendium of those tweets, rearranged but otherwise unedited, in the form of a story about sports. Or about sex. Or about both.




by Colin Dabkowski


Everyone liked his physique—6-5 and 252. Most were scared by his production. Somebody with his size, his strength, commands a double team. If you don't give him a double team, he's going to be in your backfield, making you pay.


It's a man-whipping-man game and no matter what the position is, injuries are a part of it.


“No matter where I’m at,” he said, “somebody’s going to feel me. I believe my size doesn’t matter because there’s multiple guys in the past who showed that size doesn't matter.”


He’s very slippery. He’s definitely mischievous and loves to bite. You have to keep an eye on him at all times.


But when he gets his eyes up he’s able to make a play in tight areas. He's still raw, but you can't teach size. His lack of lower-body flexibility might be tough to overcome, but he does have intriguing length.


Super, super tough. Very nasty. When he gets his hands on you, school’s out.


“I was telling them earlier today, gap integrity is going to be huge for our team. Guys having to stay in their gaps because he will find the open hole.”


Our plug-ins have really stepped up and filled those holes nicely. Two holes could have been problematic, but Yu was steady in his pursuit.


“I'm strong. I have quick twitch,” he said. “I'm always significantly harder, just because I know what I can do.”


This rough is so thick. Sometimes it gets through it, sometimes it doesn’t. What happens in the big leagues is they find your hole and they keep going at it.

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