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Writing for the Journal at a once-in-a-lifetime sporting experience, again

POSTED February 1, 2013 9:32 p.m.

New Orleans last summoned me in 1992, and the experience involved the Turlock Journal!

I was a college journalism student and distance runner and my dual interests led me to attend the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials as a reporter. A photojournalist friend teamed up with me to drive 2,000 miles across the country on an ultimate field trip.
We produced stories and photos for newspapers in communities like Turlock, which had an 800-meter runner who did well. No Internet then, of course; film, FedEx and faxes were our cutting-edge tools. After expenses, our three weeks of hard work earned us a total of $100. It was an adventure only 
21-year-old kids like us could love.
Twenty-one years later, I teach more than I write but still enjoy reporting about sports. Highlights have included covering the 1995 Track and Field World Championships in Sweden, two books about the San Francisco Giants, a book of Yosemite adventure stories and a number of first-person outdoor travel articles.
Though I live deep in the Raider Nation, the 49ers have always been my football team. I'm old enough to still hold a grudge about the “Traitors” moving to Los Angeles in 1982. Beyond that, San  Francisco won four Super Bowls in my formative years. In the first game I saw in person, the Niners beat the detested Dallas Cowboys to advance to their fifth Super Bowl in 1995. And quarterback Steve Young met my students and me once, treating us as wonderfully as he once threw touchdown passes for the red and gold.
When the chance arose to return to New Orleans and to write again for the Journal about another hometown hero, I tried to channel Colin Kaepernick sprinting for the end zone as I immediately accepted. After all, the Super Bowl doesn't come along every day, for players or for journalists, and one must seize the opportunity like a linebacker diving on a loose ball.
Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoy this as much as I will. Follow the Journal's Super Bowl coverage throughout the weekend at,, and

— Matt Johanson writes about sports, the outdoors, education and politics for California newspapers and magazines. His books include "Game of My Life: San Francisco Giants" and "Yosemite Epics: Tales of Adventure from America's Greatest Playground." More of his writing can be found at

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